Disability inclusion refers to the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in everyday activities, ensuring they have access to the same resources and opportunities as their peers who do not have a disability.
What is disability inclusion?
The purpose of disability inclusion is to ensure that people with long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as those with no disabilities.
This includes all areas of education, work, social engagement and community activities. It aims to promote equal treatment within societies that actively embrace diversity and respect the rights of all individuals.
Disability inclusion – meaning and explanation
As stated in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the concept of disability is constantly evolving. People with disabilities continue to face systemic barriers that prevent them from accessing basic services, facilities, and opportunities that are available to individuals without disabilities.
Some of these barriers are:
- Physical: Inappropriate infrastructure, such as buildings without ramps or elevators
- Stereotypical: Negative attitudes, prejudices, and misconceptions about people with disabilities.
- Systemic: Discriminatory policies and practices that deny individuals with disabilities equal employment opportunities, and limit their access to public services and accommodations.
These barriers can (and often do) intersect with other barriers associated with gender, age, sexual orientation, race and other factors.
Why is disability inclusion important?
15 % of the world’s population, or approximately one billion people, have some form of disability. People with disabilities are more likely to experience socioeconomic discrimination through less education, inadequate healthcare, unemployment, lower wages and unsafe working conditions. Due to these factors, there is also an increased risk of poverty among people with disabilities.
Disability inclusion requires adequate practices and policies that effectively address and eliminate prejudices that hinder the full social participation for individuals with disabilities. When these are included in solid programs of inclusion, it creates a supportive and productive workplace for everyone.
Examples of disability-inclusion in the workplace
- Understanding disability exclusion before practicing disability inclusion: Excluding candidates with disabilities from projects and activities because of discomfort, bias or fear is a form of disability exclusion. Understanding and targeting the underlying causes of discrimination is the first step toward building better inclusivity practices.
- Having conversations about disability inclusion: Learning about implicit biases and stereotypes, and to unlearn these, is another crucial step toward fostering a more transparent workplace. It requires individuals to actively examine their implicit biases surrounding disabilities by engaging in open and honest discussions.
- Considering candidates with disabilities during recruitment processes: avoiding putting individuals with disabilities at a disadvantage is key. This involves creating inclusive job postings and descriptions that focus on essential job functions, rather than specific physical or sensory abilities. Employers should actively welcome applications from disabled people, recognizing the valuable skills and knowledge they bring to the workforce.
- Actively fostering an inclusive workplace: A disability-inclusive workplace is one where individuals are empowered to fully participate and reach their potential. In such a workplace, there is a culture of respect, empathy, and understanding toward persons with disability. Their voices are heard, their talents recognized, fostering an environment where organizations can tap into the strengths of all their employees.
- Ensuring equal opportunities: Providing equal access to job opportunities, promotions, and career advancement for individuals with disabilities is vital and requires inclusive policies that prohibit discrimination based on disability.
- Providing accessible workspaces: Ensuring that the physical environment is accessible and barrier-free for employees with disabilities is a fundamental aspect of creating an inclusive and equitable workplace. Among many things, it requires structural modifications to remove physical barriers. This includes the installation of ramps, elevators and accessible restrooms.