‘Inclusive’ communities

Sep 25, 2014
Tagged with: ‘Inclusive’ communities


I chose to write about inclusive communities for this blog and I am finding it somewhat difficult because it can be a touchy subject and I wasn’t sure which way to go with it. But, here we go–This is my two cents on ‘Inclusive’ Communities:

First off, inclusion is really about including ALL people, however, I will focus on it related to disability. Second, when speaking about community, I mean it in a broad way—so, your town, school, neighborhood, etc. I have come across situations where when inclusion is asked about related to disability and physical activity/recreation programs available in the community, people instantly answer, ‘oh, we have a special dance class that happens for two weeks in the summer time.’ Or, ‘our parks and recreation program has a therapeutic horseback riding program, challenger baseball….’

To me, I do not think of those programs as ‘inclusive.’ To me, these are segregated programs where the person with the disability attends a class with others who have a disability and their same-aged peers without disabilities are not involved. I am by means NOT saying that these opportunities are not important. In fact, I think they are very important and have their place on the inclusion spectrum. I am a product of segregated, wheelchair sports programs and gained a lot from participating in them—things like learning to be ok with all aspects of my disability. I actually still participate in wheelchair sports. But, I want to be able to take my dog to the neighborhood park and I want to be able to play basketball at the local Y. So, I AM saying that people with disabilities need to have the choice. They need to have the opportunity to participate in the community alongside with their peers and family members. In order to have the opportunity to participate in the community, the community needs to be open and thoughtful to including ALL people. Communities need to have accessible buildings, parks, and programs/activities. Some of you are probably thinking, ‘well the Americans with Disabilities Act takes care of all of that, what else do you want?’ To that I would give you a smirk with a raised eyebrow- unfortunately, the law isn’t always followed. I can give many examples of newly constructed or remodeled buildings, parks, etc. that are very illegal. And it’s frustrating. And sad. And really, it’s not just laws and access issues, but it’s really about people—accepting inclusion as a philosophy and building into the community’s culture. You don’t have to like me, but let me participate.

I’m over my word allotment, so I will leave you with these websites for more information:

Great essay about inclusive communities and the importance: http://www.abilitycenter.org/programs-and-services/inclusive-communities/community-living

Food for thought: https://aboriginalhr.ca/en/products/item/inclusion-continuum

More food for thought: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGIMvDf97M8

And a NCHPAD article on the subject: http://www.nchpad.org/341/1999/Best~Practice~of~Inclusive~Services~~The~Value~of~Inclusion

Author: Kerri Vanderbom

  • bobl07

    It is so important that any new development or community landscape must have people with disabilities involved in the planning from the very beginning. It’s only when we are invited to the table that these laws on accessibility will be truly observed.

  • Kerri

    You have hit the nail on the head! It is absolutely true! Thanks for the comment, Bob.