What if the first question we asked was, “What is so unique about this situation that it justifies exclusion?” instead of, “How much does it cost to make it accessible?”
These aren’t my words, but those of disability rights guru Dr. Scott Rains in a recent excellent article in New Mobility magazine.
Scott Rains is one of those open-minded, forward-thinking individuals who are changing the conversation around disability. He has been doing it for years, on his excellent Rolling Rains Report and on frequent whirlwind trips and speaker appointments around the world, but we’re only just starting to listen.
His article is a beautifully phrased and sensitively considered exhortation to reject simple, weary, standards-compliant ‘accessibility for the disabled’ in favor of the more complex yet more fruitful concept of inclusion. He writes:
“Accessibility looks backward. It goes halfway toward overcoming outmoded and artificial standards of what – and who – is “normal”…. Inclusion looks forward.”
The article sets out with convincing clarity the business case for inclusion and the concept of universal design, explaining to doubters that “The word ‘universal’ doesn’t mean ‘one-size-fits-all’. He ends with a ringing entreaty:
“Accessibility is doing for – a 20th-century task. Inclusion is doing with – a 21st-century vision. Which approach makes for stronger communities?”
Dr. Rains is right. If you believe, as most of us do, that the language we use affects the way we perceive the world and the decisions we make, then we must fight to replace ‘disability’ and ‘accessibility’ with ‘universality’ and ‘inclusion’.
Download a PDF of Scott Rains’ article Accessibility is Not Inclusion, published in New Mobility magazine in January 2011.Google+