I’ve had an epiphany over something I’ve been struggling to express in words.
Inclusion is more than a feeling.
We may feel welcoming in our hearts, but if our physical spaces and systems are not inclusive, what we feel doesn’t matter.
None of us believe we are prejudiced, racist, ableist, homophobic, or unwelcoming. Society has outliers, of course, but the vast majority of us know these words aren’t positive adjectives.
Do our actions and spaces align with our hearts?
Easy illustration: If you have guests at your house, you don’t pile all your dirty laundry at the front door so they have to walk through or over it. Doing so would not say ‘welcome.’
In our schools, businesses, and places of faith, we must think about what our programs, words, services, and buildings say to those who are atypical or simply different than us.
The Americans with Disabilities Act “requires public accommodations to provide goods and services to people with disabilities on an equal basis with the rest of the general public. ” This is why we have elevators and wheelchair ramps, to name only 2 of the more obvious accommodations.
We need to take this idea into this 21st century.
Disabilities are seen and unseen.
Do the spaces you inhabit welcome all? Go on a scavenger hunt in your mind and try to determine how accessible these spaces are. Let me know what you find!