INCLUSION: THE BARRIERS & THE SOLUTIONS
FEAR: This is the most common social barrier, and obstacle of inclusion. We are often afraid of people we see as different, so we choose not to interact with them. Or perhaps we don’t want to be invasive or offensive.
OVERCOMING FEAR: People are people, and we are all different, but also similar in the ways that make us all human. Some people like casual conversation and some don’t. Some appreciate help, and others don’t. Our differences need not prevent us from being connected. Human connections are worth the risk.
AWKWARDNESS: Sometimes we just don’t know what to say. We see only our differences, and don’t have the right words to connect. People with differing abilities are often used to being treated differently or sometimes even ignored. Thus, they may have expectations of not being included, and behavior may appear aloof because of feeling marginalized.
OVERCOMING AWKWARDNESS:By altering our own thoughts, beliefs, and behavior, we can diminish the awkward feeling. We all have differences, but we can find common ground. That's how we make connections. Eye contact or a kind voice can be the first step to inclusion and unification.
DIFFICULTY: It is much easier to look away than to watch someone struggle.
OVERCOMING DIFFICULTY:Bridging the gap between different people is easier than you think, and just because someone has a disability does not mean we don't have many things in common. Connecting with people who are different does not have to be effortful or uncomfortable unless we live by that belief. Simply deciding it's not difficult is how we can abolish this social isolation, and change as a society.
DISINTEREST: Maybe you have nobody in your social circle with a disability. It’s not your thing. It’s not your problem. You’re busy. You have your own issues and agenda.
OVERCOMING DISINTEREST:As human beings, we have a social responsibility to care for one another. We take turns offering and receiving help when one is needy or one is able. The one thing we can be sure of is that at some point in life, everyone will experience a limitation on our abilities, even a temporary one. We will all experience a moment when we do not have our full abilities. If you have ever been on crutches, had your eyes dilated, been bed bound, been disoriented, needed an inhaler, been in a foreign country without speaking the language, or even just lost your voice, you have experienced limitations on your abilities. You were likely dependent on somebody to help you. A person to drive you somewhere, reach something for you, to translate, to open a door for you, feed you, help you get dressed, read something to you. That help was given out of compassion. Understanding that is what creates empathy. That human understanding is what makes the world go ‘round. Pay it forward. It will come back when you need it.
IGNORANCE : We are human and we learn by example from other humans. Sometimes we are taught that a person who is different, or perhaps has a deformity or a behavior that we don't understand, is not capable of normal relationships. Parents often think they should protect their children from seeing individuals who are suffering or are different. If we can't see past the disability, it's just not easy to watch.
OVERCOMING IGNORANCE:We can educate ourselves on the facts, especially when our ignorance creates belief systems that contradict with common goodness and common sense. Every single person needs love and meaningful relationships with others. True compassion always feels right, and is easily passed forward to others. Shut your eyes, take a breath, and find your compassion. It's in there, and it can help us see more clearly.