This week is #SocialInclusionWeek2020 – a week raising awareness of an issue that is of great importance to me.
As such, my weekly round-up of 10 things to know about disability is dedicated to social inclusion. People with disabilities face social exclusion on a daily basis, and it is usually the result of minor things that are missed, those invisible barriers that others can’t see because of their privilege. However, these minor things can have a huge impact on people with disabilities because it is unlikely it is the first time we have dealt with these barriers.
So this week, my 10 tips that you can and must do to ensure you are not inadvertently excluding people with disabilities. These apply in all social settings, either at a business event, a social gathering at a public place, or even in your own home.
1. Ask yourself – can people with different access needs enter via the same entrance?
2. Ask yourself – Is there accessible parking on the premises or nearby?
3. Ask yourself – Is there an accessible toilet that is easy to get to?
4. Ask yourself – Is the space quiet enough to carry a conversation?
5. Ask yourself – If there are tables, can they be set up (or can be changed) so that everyone can see each other?
6. Ask yourself – Is the space uncluttered?
7. Never assume that someone does not want to be included. You may not see us at social events due to us being worried about accessibility issues we find hard to explain repeatedly. The conversation is so much easier when we are asked rather than having to bring the issue up.
8. Speak to the person with a disability, not the person we are with.
9. If you are unsure of an individual’s access needs, ask us. This will demonstrate you care about including us.
10. Ask what pronouns we prefer. There is a lot of literature that talks about outdated terms that people with disabilities still use.
Social inclusion is easy. Dealing with social exclusion is hard and the ramifications of social exclusion can be harmful and long-lasting. The solutions to social inclusion are often small but will have a positive impact. You will become aware of things you may not have thought of in the past, and people will feel included.