This week we will continue to explore what an inclusive culture looks like.
If we are striving toward full inclusion, then we must first define the word. According to Ella Washington and Camille Patrick, “Inclusion refers to a cultural and environmental feeling of belonging… (people) in inclusive environments feel appreciated for their unique characteristics and therefore comfortable sharing their ideas and other aspects of their true and authentic selves.” (1)
What does inclusion look like in the community? According to Institute for Community Inclusion “…all people, regardless of their abilities, disabilities, or health care needs, have the right to:
Be respected and appreciated as valuable members of their communities
Participate in recreational activities in neighborhood settings
Work at jobs in the community that pay a competitive wage and have careers that use their capacities to the fullest
Attend general education classes with peers from preschool through college and continuing education
An inclusive culture is not a separate program. It is not about creating a special class or a distinct facility. It is about working, playing, and participating together.
People with disabilities want to be treated as equals with the same rights as their non-disabled peers. They may accomplish things differently, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t productive or unworthy of participation. They have the same level of accomplishments and limitations, virtues and faults.
Inclusion is not accidental. It takes a conscious effort and planning within an organization. Leadership must have a vision and goal of inclusion and be willing to do work that it will take. Inclusion goes beyond co-existing. In an inclusive environment people with disabilities are involved at all levels from top leadership to the maintenance crew. Each person’s goals and skills are utilized and appreciated.
Next, we will explore the barriers that prevent the existence of full inclusion of people with disabilities in the community.
1. Patrick, Camille and Washington, Ella. 3 Requirements for a Diverse and Inclusive Culture. The Gallop Pole/workplace. [Online] September 17, 2018. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/242138/requirements-diverse-inclusive-culture.aspx.
2. Institute for Community Inclusion. What We Mean When We Talk About Inclusion. Institute for Community Inclusion. [Online] 2019. https://www.communityinclusion.org/article.php?article_id=213.