Inclusivity as an ‘ethos’ not a function: Top tips and disability resources

This blog has been written by Adam Williams and Mirika Flegg, Accessibility Inclusion Champions for the Resilience Revolution. It also includes ideas shared and discussed at collective events with Boingboing and the Centre of Resilience for Social Justice and through our work with the Nothing About Us Without Us project. We acknowledge all contributors and hope what we have written encourages more discussion. 

Improving accessibility

Discussions around making things more accessible have always been commonplace for us in the Boingboing / CRSJ / Resilience Revolution community (it helps that we work in an environment where many of us have experienced all sorts of adversity – including disability). But we have been talking about it a lot more lately across our whole team.

We have collectively raised our voices to beat and change the odds as and with disadvantaged communities (see our submission to the Women’s and Equality Commission around disability and COVID-19 and the follow up).  Just a few days before Christmas, the Women’s and Equality Commission released their report (see ‘Unequal impact? Coronavirus, disability and access to services’). They have called on the government to investigate why disabled people lacked access to basics like food, care and education/employment supports. It’s a difficult read- more so because some of us experienced these things too. We are awaiting the government’s response (due at the end of February 2021, however, to date it has not been released). The Cabinet Office Disability Unit is also expected to release  a National Strategy for Disabled People later this year We’re hoping for change, but we are not just gonna sit around and wait for it. 

Contribute to the National Strategy for Disabled people by taking part in the Disability Unit survey here (closing 23rd April 2021).

In our community we’ve been thinking about what we can do to be more inclusive (and supportive) around disability and how can we better support ourselves and others. Yes, lots of us face adversity – but we are all different – what helps one of us, may hinder another. So we are learning just like everyone else and it’s a work in progress. Our minds were really concentrated on this too because we are doing some research projects where we really need to be good at connecting up and working with all kinds of different people. For example in the Nothing About Us Without Us project, we are exploring activism with young people and their supporters in England. We are both members of the research team on that project and we’ve been talking a lot about this with the wider research team. We thought we would share some of these discussions and resources here in this blog and our accompanying blog on improving online accessibility. Maybe you can share with us even better ideas?

Top tips:

  • Get comfortable with difference- disabled people are people like everyone else. If you haven’t had much interaction with disabled people (or diversity more broadly) you may find it helpful to learn from others. Here are a few places that you can find videos where people speak about their experiences:
    • HealthTalk: An online video bank of people talking about their personal experiences of various types of impairments associated with disabilities.
    • Disabled Black Lives Matter: A video series produced by the Alliance for Inclusive Education where individuals speak about intersectionality (note: intersectionality thinks about the different types of social/political identities we have, and how others may treat us).
    • Good News Stories: Cornwall Council and the Learning Disability Partnership Board produced a number of videos around inclusion.
  • See inclusivity is an ‘ethos’ not a function- we deserve to belong. Accessibility isn’t enough, we want to be included and have a say in decisions that matter to us.  If you don’t include us, we all miss out.
    • Resilient Therapy and The Resilience Framework provides an approach to help you think about how small things can make a big difference. We call these Resilient Moves. We really think the section around ‘belonging’ is really important, but you’ll find that all the Resilient Moves work together.
  • Take the initiative- don’t wait for us to tell you what to do about disability. There are tons of resources out there already, so please use them.  Here are a few we like:  
    • AccessibilityNet: offers online classes around digital accessibility- from making accessible documents all the way to embedding accessibility in the design phase.
    • The University of Washington’s DO-IT project offers a ton of resources around inclusion with a focus on, but not limited to, educators and students.
  • Think outside the box- THINK INNOVATION. Thinking about the complexity of disability can help spark innovation- different can sometimes be better!   Some of the most amazing ideas and inventions have originated with disabled people.  Here are just some examples:

For most of us living with differences and/or limitations, problem solving is part and parcel of everyday life.  Supporting innovation can be as simple as being kind and encouraging and believing that nothing is impossible.  We think this motivational video by Nick Vujicic – Never give up: Nick’s life without limbs may be helpful for some.      

  • Be part of positive change- take an asset-based approach and systems perspective. Change can start from anywhere, but disability voice has to be represented across all levels to keep us from being disadvantaged.  Identify and learn from good practice.  Work alongside others to embed good ideas.  There are lots of resources and communities you may find interesting.
    • The Resilience Revolution is a social movement where many of us from lots of different groups and organisations work together to make the communities better places to live and grow-up in. We would love you to be part of it!
    • The Charter for Change (the product of the Global Disability Summit) offers some helpful principles to follow. It’s been signed by a lot of groups and organisations all over the world.
    • The Big Hack is a website for businesses on how to embed accessibility into strategic planning.
    • The Valuable 500 is an international community for the leaders of businesses that make a commitment to disability inclusion.

For more tips, please check out our other blog: Top tips for improving accessibility online

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