Inclusion at its simplest is ‘the state of being included’ but it is a bit more complicated than that… It is used by disability rights activists to promote the idea that all people should be freely and openly accommodated without restrictions or limitations of any kind.
It is described by some as the practice of ensuring that people feel they belong, are engaged, and connected. It is a universal human right whose aim is to embrace all people, irrespective of race, gender, disability or other attribute which can be perceived as different.
Miller and Katz (2002) defined inclusion as: “.. a sense of belonging: feeling respected, valued for who you are; feeling a level of supportive energy and commitment from others so that you can do your best.”
It is about valuing all individuals, giving equal access and opportunity to all and removing discrimination and other barriers to involvement.
From an ethical point of view, human rights are fundamental to overcoming disabling barriers and promoting inclusion.
A human rights approach should ensure positive processes and outcomes for disabled people including treating people with dignity and respect and ensure that society no longer disables its citizens.
Respecting human rights in the delivery of services is not an optional extra but a set of core values and fundamental to public sector reform. Human rights extend to economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights.
Work towards inclusion must be active, involves imagining better and understanding that we all have something to contribute. It encompasses people having control over their own support and making their own decisions (personalisation), participation and presence in their own communities.
Some effects of exclusion and discrimination
- Young disabled people aged 16 are twice as likely not to be in any form of education, employment or training (NEET) as their non-disabled peers. (1)
- By the age of 26, young disabled people are more than three times as likely as other young people to agree with the statement “whatever I do has no real effect on what happens to me”. (2)
- Forty-nine per cent of disabled people of working age do not work, and disabled people are at considerable risk of living in poverty, with severe consequences for their families and children. (3)
- Around 1 in 4 children in severe poverty live with a disabled adult (4)
1. The Equalities Review (2006) “Interim Report”
2. Burchardt (2005) ‘The education and employment of disabled young people: frustrated ambition’ (JRF)
3. Lyon, N., Barnes, M. and Sweiry, D. (2006) ‘Families with Children in Britain: Findings from the 2004 Families and Children Study’, Department for Work and Pensions Research Report 340.
4. Save the Children, ‘Measuring Severe Child Poverty in the UK”, Policy Briefing 2010
“We know it can be hard work, but the job has to be figuring it out, not justifying whether or not to begin or to continue including someone.
We dream just as did Martin Luther King… a dream of inclusion, full inclusion, where the answer to who do we include becomes: All means all.”