Couple of days ago we conducted a Dialogue Online for inclusion session together with a great international team of facilitators living with disability.
The participants were located in Yemen. And I am very grateful to them. I know that inclusion requires mental space. And when you live in a country like Yemen and many others which are immersed in terrible situations, it is not easy to make mental space for others and especially for others with disability.
As a result of my encounter with our great Yemeny participants, three inclusion insights sparked on my mind.
1. Inclusion only exist on the presence of the other
Inclusion is a tecnisism. It is a label we have put on a universal human behaviour. We need to forget about tecnisisms and reconnect with the feeling of inclusion.
One way to get inspired for inclusive behaviours is remembering how others have made us felt included. What did they say? What did they do?
Inclusion is simple. Small acts make us feel included: being asked for our opinion, being listened when we need to speak, being seen when we need recognition, being given a glass of water on a warm day, being offered a chair after a long day standing…
Do not try to create inclusion alone. It does not exists. It is not easy to think of inclusive behavours by ourselves. It works better when we think of ourselves in the company of others.
And this takes me to my second insight.
2. Inclusion only exist in action
In the field of disability inclusion, I have the feeling we have spent senturies discussing about theory. Whether is a congress, a workshop or any other event, my feedback is that we love spending plenty of time discussing which is the best term to use when talking about persons with disability, drafting inclusion checklists and inclusion or disability policies…
That is honorable. I know papers, laws and policies take time.
But what is behind so many discussions and dissertations?
I have the feeling we are not sure how to proceed with disability inclusion.
That was also my feedback to our participants during the workshop. Enough discussion, let’s move to action! And as usual, clarifying the next steps was not easy at all for them.
Some days ago, while talking with colleagues, someone mentioned this: “when wwe did this exercise of asking colleagues with disability how they imagine an inclusive future, only few concrete answers came.”
So I venture my hypothesis: neither people living without disabilities nor people living with disabilities have a clear picture of what an inclusive society where everyone has a place would look like.
And since we are not sure how that inclusive future look like, we prefer to stay on the discussion and theoretical level.
After all, who takes the risk of embarking on a journey without a clear destination?
But as a person living with visual disability I tell you: inclusion only exists in action.
My purpose as a blind person was always to be able to take the same opportunities that the people around me can take. No thoughts of inclusion, my only goal has always been to be a part of life, to get wet in it, to soak in life and take as much as I can from it.
And we move to the last part.
3. Inclusion only exists when we do not talk about it
Where does inclusion exist? Who is truly inclusive with us? How looks inclusion in day to day?
The moment we all have to make a step ahead on inclusion is the moment of uncertainty. Few people is able to describe presicely what is an inclusive relationship.
And you will be surpirised on who are the masters of inclusion.
A participant living with disability in the workshop mentioned this and I only agree because same happen in my case: “my most inclusive situations happen when I am with people with whom I have never talked about inclusion and disability. Usually with my friends.”
Genuine inclusion happen in the company of persons who have no idea of this technicalities nor of this gerga.
Genuine inclusion happens when the magic of seeing the other just as an another human being occurs.