Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me and outlined the issues and barriers to inclusion which they face in their daily lives.
One of the comments I’ve received is that a magazine article which seeks to explore inclusion issues should also be available in audio form for those who have sight or literacy barriers. This struck me as a good point, so this series of articles will also be available in an audio format via my ELC 101 Podcast channel.
Umbrellas Should Only Be Used For Rain
‘disability’. The problem with using an umbrella term to cover a section of society, is that it often does not accurately portray everyone within that group.
Disability is a complex issue, and we need to look at how our language shapes our understanding of it.
‘Having a disability’ tells us very little about an individual person. The term may seem useful to people who don’t have a disability, but the focus is placed on what a person is unable to do, instead of what they can.
Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone was recognised for their individual strengths, and not their weaknesses? By fostering a more inclusive society, we can ensure that everyone is valued and given the chance to contribute in ways which complement their abilities.
Someone who is profoundly deaf and living independently may have been restricted in their communication since March, as face masks mean they are unable to navigate their usual daily routine.
‘Why face masks?’ you may ask. Well, the individual relies on their ability to lipread, and although masks are very much needed right now, it doesn’t help anyone whose daily living and mental health is affected by being unable to ‘see’ the words people are saying.
There are PVC face masks which prevent this issue, and some shops do use transparent perspex screens, but for affected individuals the world has got much smaller and more stressful.
Perhaps there could be a directive that public-facing staff should wear PVC face masks in their role? The lack of Public Service Announcements to raise awareness of this issue mean that many will simply suffer in silence.
One of the biggest bugbears for individuals with sight problems is when cars are parked on the curbside.
Parking cars on the curb presents many hazards for blind people and those with visual impairments. Potentially, this could be very dangerous, as it can lead to the person having to step onto the road to get round the obstacle.
Suffering In Silence
People living with chronic depression have commented to me that they’ve decided not to inform anyone at their workplace of their struggles, because they feel their sense of worth at the job would be diminished.
‘Mental Health Matters’ is something we hear often, yet commonly when someone discloses their difficulties, few people react appropriately.
Saying ‘cheer up’, or ‘you always look so happy’, does not help – it just adds to the pressure to ‘present’ in a certain way, which may in fact contribute to the anxiety and depression.
Wheelchairs are a helpful tool which enable many to go about their daily lives, but there can be a stigma attached. Some people make assumptions about, or even completely overlook, wheelchair users.
For example, when an able-bodied person talks to a person in a wheelchair, there is no need to raise their voice (as sometimes happens), because the person should not be assumed to be deaf.
Also, disregarding the person in the wheelchair by communicating with them via anyone who may be pushing it, is unacceptable and (quite frankly) rude.
Disability Or Open Access?
Another issue is toilets. Can we please stop asking to use the ‘disabled toilets’?
This labelling culture is not helpful; if a washroom is open access, let’s call them open access toilets. At least then people will know what the area is used for, without titling anyone’s circumstance.
Next month’s article will look at issues surrounding race and ethnicity. If you have a subject you’d like me to address, please send a message to email@example.com