For 2023’s International Day for People with a disability, I have been asked by my amazing co-workers to do an opinion piece on what I think would be best to help create a more fair and inclusive world for people with disabilities.
The topic of inclusion and fairness is an all-important discussion that we all have numerous times throughout years, how both old and new ways of fairness can at times, clash, but more importantly, collide and form a foundation to help just about everyone in the entire world.
With regard to this topic, I would like to share with you my personal and professional thoughts on what I believe moving forward we can do to, as I put it, ‘move fate forward’ for disability inclusion and fairness.
I would personally like to define what I feel fairness and inclusion is to my understanding, as I believe we all digest words like these to different degrees in how we have experienced and see the world.
Fairness according to Drew.
To me fairness is about equality for all, but in a kind, genuine and passionate way that brings people together, with acknowledgement that we all have so many unique differences that make us our own individual.
We all have different strengths and weaknesses, that can define our character, but not define who we are as a whole as for that you can only truly know by being in that person’s life where they acknowledge you can understand them.
Inclusion according to Drew.
In the most basic of terms I look at inclusion as a form of being allowed to ‘do what everyone else is doing’ but more defined than that I feel helpful inclusion means creating an environment where those who may wish to explore themselves and their community are able to.
To be more precise, I feel inclusion means you are able to engage in an environment you feel safe, secure and able to explore with kindred spirits or by yourself.
With these two words defined, in my point of view, I will now list six factors I think would be of most benefit for making the world more inclusive and fair for people with disabilities.
1: Building More Bridges: We all have barriers in life and those can be in so many different ways, from physical, psychological, social, spiritual, and emotional as well as more that fall under the value of wellbeing.
By helping one another we need to build more bridges to each other so we can better help explore and understand our barriers and how to successfully overcome them for times when we most need to. And this can only truly be done by connecting with one another.
2: Be Gentler: Being loud and proud is all well and good, but it’s just as important to be gentle and gracious, if we can already start to understand a person and build a bridge we can naturally start to allow ourselves to not to be in a hurry to get things over and done with.
People who are not disabled but are involved with people with disabilities sometimes try to rush, but it’s important to know that not everyone is fast. By being relaxed, helpful and gentle you allow people to show you their own heartfelt side.
3: Keep Learning about the Person: You never stop learning in this life, so keep being an open mind to people who you come across, and keep trying to see what makes them special, even if you don’t find much in common, it’s good to keep in mind as it will help you grow as a person as well.
Understand that you don’t have to be everyone’s best friend, but that doesn’t mean you can’t offer them an ear or a different opinion, if only so the person can ask questions about themselves.
4: Look at Employments Different Ways: Finding long term, meaningful employment isn’t easy for anyone, but it’s far more difficult for someone who may face more barriers such as accessibility, language or sadly even discrimination. But by looking at new ways of employment, other than casual methods such as customised employment, there is an increase in valued roles and more career options.
5: More Accessibility: The age old topic of people with disability and accessibility is as old as time. While people are always making strides to help make their communities accessible, there’s still so much people can do to help, so many more places such as housing, and assessable features such as mobility aids, transport, hearing aids and more can offer for affordable and long term usage.
6: Push People to see the World: There was this beautiful film I watched the other day called Josee, The Tiger & The Fish, about two young adults, one a mobility aid bound girl named Josee who hasn’t seen much of her community beyond her own neighborhood and the other a workaholic boy named Tsuneo who through a chance encounter becomes her caretaker and he gets her out into the community to experience so many different things Josee has always wanted to see.
It was an amazing film, but the one thing I took away that made it so amazing was how Josee’s grandma was so protective of Josee that instead of letting her experience these things, she was instead confining her to just her home. It’s important that moving ahead into the future more family and caretakers understand that the world is out there for everyone to explore.
I see a lot of people fearful for their loved one as they believe the world wouldn’t understand or they would cause harm. This is an understandable fear, but it shouldn’t hold back people with disabilities from experiencing the world, and by doing this, all the other five factors I’ve just discussed may in turn fall into place.
“Grandma, the world isn’t all scary”- Josee from Josee, The Tiger & The Fish.
Thank you for reading, have some happy holidays, and a Merry Christmas.