PERSPECTIVES | Inclusion is different for everyone

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017
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Inclusion is a human right. It means that people with disabilities have the same rights to education, jobs, and community activities as people without disabilities. Yet full inclusion remains elusive for many people with disabilities, and inclusion may not look the same for everyone.

For some parents, full inclusion means that their children should be included in school and in community life alongside their nondisabled peers. Their children are not separated from those without disabilities in the real world, so why should they be separated at school?

There are others, however, who feel including their child “in the mainstream of community life at all times” is not in their child’s best interest. They would prefer “positive segregation” that creates classrooms and activities with other children with disabilities where their child can feel more accepted.

As parents, we can struggle between pushing our children towards inclusion and respecting and embracing their differences. And when our children are excluded by their peers or other adults, it hurts, whether it is in school or in the outside world.

While physical accessibility can be a barrier, other necessary accommodations that allow for meaningful inclusion are not well understood. Educating those outside the disability community both about accessibility, and accommodations that allow those with disabilities to be successfully integrated, is an important step towards more meaningful inclusion.

Creating classrooms and community opportunities that accommodate the diversity of all children — those with disabilities and those without — brings us one step closer to universal inclusion by fostering environments of compassion, mutual respect, and understanding.