in·clu·sion – the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure.

When you see the word inclusion, what comes to mind

 If you’re like most people, inclusion is typically used with matters related race, culture, ethnicity, and disability. If you do a search on the meaning of inclusion, much of what you find will be about a model where students with special needs spend most of their time with non-special needs students.  It’s a limited scope, to say the least.  The truth is, inclusion, has a broader significance that is often overlooked.

Level of income, gender, age, sexual orientation, mental health, employment status, have all played a role in a the inclusive nature in a variety of circumstances.

Think about the events planned at work – going out for lunch, holiday parties, charitable donations for example.  How inclusive are they?  Are these events planned with consideration to accommodate all people in the workplace?

If you ponder a form that you may have to fill out at the hospital or your child’s school.  There is usually a section that asks for your relationship to the child.  In the past, people would say “mother” or “father”.  What about simply stating, “parent”?  What about M or F?  Should it be gender identification or another more respectful term?

Friends and family with varying income may want to plan a vacation together.  Is there consideration given to what everyone can afford, or is a decision made where some people are left out?  What’s important?  Enjoying time together, fun, laughter, making memories or the location where you gather?

Have you ever heard a group of people trying to coax someone to go on a roller coaster.  “Come on, it’s nothing”, the say.  But what if it something?  What if the person has a genuine fear of heights or truly can’t tolerate the twists and turns of the ride and yet they don’t want to appear weak and not go on the ride?

Inclusion is not just about learners with special needs. It is an attitude for life.

It’s about valuing all individuals, giving equal access and opportunity to all and removing discrimination and other barriers to involvement.

For me, inclusion means consideration, thoughtfulness, kindness, selflessness, understanding, and sensitivity.

Inclusion doesn’t mean sacrificing an opportunity or passing up on something you really want to do.  If a decision affects you and only you, that’s fine.  When there are others to consider however, think about giving people a choice, accessibility options, alternative methods, and finding common ground.

Inclusion Network sums it up well…

If you are seeking ways to be more inclusive, I can help you to explore ideas. Contact me for more details.

~ Lisa