Inclusion (disability Rights)

Inclusion is a term used by people with disabilities and other disability rights advocates for the idea that all people should freely, openly and without pity accommodate any person with a disability without restrictions or limitations of any kind. Although disability rights has historically existed as a relatively cohesive movement, the movement centered around inclusion has only recently begun to take shape and to position itself in the eye of the general public.

Examples now exist worldwide. In the United Kingdom it is symbolized most visibly in British Broadcasting Corporation radio programs like Ouch!, hosted by Mat Fraser and Liz Carr, and in the associated comedy, variety and/or stage acts in similar circles, such as Abnormally Funny People. In the United States New York City and San Francisco Bay Area communities, the I AM PWD Project, the hip-hop group 4-Wheel City, the modern dance ensembles AXIS Dance Company and The GIMP Project, and the stage theater companies Theater Breaking Through Barriers, Visible Theater and Nicu's Spoon, are all part of this emerging phenomenon. Lawrence Carter-Long, a nationally acknowledged US social advocate and orator in the disability rights field with spastic diplegia, founded and ran the disTHIS! Film Series in downtown Manhattan once per month for most of the year from 2005 through 2010. The series is now no longer active and it remains to be seen whether other leaders of the Disabilities Network of New York City will take over and re-launch the series from 2011.

The concept of inclusion emphasizes universal design for policy-oriented physical accessibility issues, such as ease-of-use of physical structures and elimination of barriers to ease of movement in the world, but the largest part of its purpose is on being culturally transformational. Inclusion typically promotes disability studies as an intellectual movement and stresses the need for disabled people — the inclusion-rights community usually uses the reclaimed word "cripple" or "crip" instead — to immerse themselves, sometimes forcibly, into mainstream culture through various modes of artistic expression. Inclusion advocates argue that melding what they term "disability-art" or "dis/art" into mainstream art makes integration of different body types unavoidable, direct, and thus positive. They argue it helps able-bodied people deal with their fears of being or becoming disabled, which, unbeknownst to the person, is usually what underlies both the feelings of "inspiration" and feelings of pity s/he may have when watching a disabled person moving in his or her unusual way(s), or in participating in activities that obviously draw attention to the person's condition(s). Inclusion advocates often specifically encourage disabled people who choose to subscribe to this set of ideas to take it upon themselves to involve themselves in activities that give them the widest public audience possible, such as becoming professional dancers, actors, visual artists, front-line political activists, filmmakers, orators, and similar professions.

Mainstreaming is typically limited to putting a person with a disability next to typical people in the usually quite vague and unspecific hope that each will adapt to and learn about the other. Inclusion, while acknowledging the value of mainstreaming as a tool, argues that this is not enough: the whole of society, its physical accessibility, and its social attitudes, they say, should exist with universal design in mind, thus ending physical marginalization of all kinds by ending the idea that a body that is different is incapable of self-management, physical attractiveness, and so on. This all-encompassing practice, its advocates argue, ensures that people of differing abilities visibly and palpably belong to, are engaged in, and are actively connected to the goals and objectives of the whole wider society, as opposed to being a "novelty" that 'normal' people might be afraid to ask direct questions of.

The inclusive attitude is quite divergent from, and usually the exact opposite of, the prevailing attitude in most countries worldwide. Inclusion's opposite tends to be an attitude or undercurrent of pity and/or sorrow among the population of the able-bodied towards people with disabilities — and, among the medical community, a prevalence of the medical model of disability focusing on the physical and/or mental therapies, medications, surgeries and assistive devices that might help to "normalize" or "fix" the disabled person so that they may have an easier time in their surrounding environment. The attitude of inclusion, which has a lot in common with the social model of disability, alleges that this entire approach is wrong and that those who have physical, sensory and/or intellectual impairments are automatically put on a much more effective and fulfilling road to a good, complete, and 'full' life if they are, instead, looked at and valued by society from the outset as totally "normal" people who just happen to have these "extra differences." Like the social movements of feminism, anti-racism and gay rights before it, inclusion is often derided by critics from the right as naïvité, and by critics from the left as identity politics. As it looks less towards 'overcoming' and 'achieving', and more towards being and existing in the moment, inclusion by its very nature forces others in the world to possibly begin to actually accept bodily forms and processes they may not be immediately comfortable with.

Some say that part of the reason for resistance to inclusion in the United States may be that the older architecture of its more prominent cities makes structural adjustment for disabled people costly and supposedly impractical, leading indirectly to a high measure of hostility towards disabled people lest they end up feeling 'entitled' to receive such adjustments automatically and unquestionably. Others tend to blame the attitude of Social Darwinism more generally, accusing it of corrupting the attitude of able-bodied people in the U.S. in particular towards disabled people — often to the point that it prevents that country's culture from readily accepting disabled people in aspects and venues that are not directly legality or law-related, e.g. theater, film, dance, and sexuality. (See also the article Ableism.)

Famous quotes containing the word inclusion:

    Belonging to a group can provide the child with a variety of resources that an individual friendship often cannot—a sense of collective participation, experience with organizational roles, and group support in the enterprise of growing up. Groups also pose for the child some of the most acute problems of social life—of inclusion and exclusion, conformity and independence.
    Zick Rubin (20th century)