Intellectual disability is a fairly common problem in the modern world. More than 1 billion people live with this diagnosis, with a significant percentage in the middle- and low-income countries (Inclusion works, 2019). As civilization develops in a humanistic direction, the topic of inclusiveness is becoming increasingly popular. This paper aims to discuss how inclusive modern society is for people with intellectual and other disabilities and describe the most useful inclusion practices.
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Social and Community Inclusion
Intellectual disability is a generalized disorder of nervous development, as a result of which a person has impaired mental and adaptive functioning. A prerequisite for determining intellectual disability is the absence of two or more adaptive behavioral skills and a low level of IQ. Thus, intellectual disability consists of two components – mental and functional and does not depend only on intellectual abilities, excluding from this category people who have adaptive skills and low IQ.
The inclusion of people with ID in everyday social life is impossible without creating sound practices and policies to remove physical, communication, and behavioral barriers between them and other people (Disability and health inclusion strategies, 2020). The elimination of these barriers allows people with disabilities to participate in society fully. The most common inclusive strategies are non-discrimination in relationships, creating a universal design for objects in public places, an adaptation of standard procedures, elimination of stigma, and stereotypes (Disability and health inclusion strategies, 2020). Noteworthy, quite often, people with disabilities participate in the development of inclusive strategies, as the members of independent organizations dealing with this issue.
Impact and Effects on the Person, Family, and Community
Disability, including intellectual disability, is a problem not only for individuals but also for their families and the communities in which they live. On the one hand, it is about acceptance, which is vital for a person with a disability. On the other hand, it is imperative to provide such people with work so that they can contribute to the community and be competent members. In this regard, many local and international organizations are working on inclusive cooperation strategies with enterprises, creating jobs, and motivating employers.
Many people with ID do not receive equivalent advantages from society and may have less support from friends and less weight in communities, which creates the prerequisites for further failures. Scientists note that as a result, adults with mental disabilities may have a less healthy lifestyle (Wilson et al., 2017). Other effects include a higher average body mass index and an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, the existence of inclusive strategies and the creation of an emotionally friendly environment with participation in group practices is crucial for the happy life of people with ID.
Another aspect of social integration is the use of the Internet by people with disabilities. The most important element of inclusion in technology is social networks. According to scientists, people with ID are active users of social networks, and they often maintain longstanding friendships there (White and Forrester-Jones, 2019). Therefore, scientists started studying the factors contributing to the digital inclusion of people with ID (Chadwick et al., 2019). Consequently, it would be wise to use inclusive strategies when developing websites.
Interventions and Services Available within the Community
The USA is a developed country, where, for many years, strategies have been developed to create an enabling environment for all society members. Besides, there is an established social, ethical, and cultural policy, including concerning people with disabilities. However, the most important are state laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities. These are Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act 1973, The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 1990, ADA Amendments Act 2008, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act 2010 (Disability and health inclusion strategies, 2020). Here are presented the rights of people with disabilities and the obligations of society to ensure the implementation of inclusion strategies.
For example, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects people from disability discrimination. The requirements apply to employers and organizations that receive government financial assistance (Disability and health inclusion strategies, 2020). The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 are aimed at reducing barriers, changing perceptions, and ensuring participation in public life. The law affects employment, state and local public services, equal access in transport, telecommunication, and public premises. These are shops, schools, kindergartens, doctors’ offices, pharmacies, parks, museums, libraries, restaurants, hotels, theaters.
Finally, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 focuses on providing Americans with disabilities with a better choice of healthcare services. The law proposes healthcare options with long-term support, improved Medicaid services at home and in the community, guaranteed access to quality medical care, and preventive screening equipment (Disability and health inclusion strategies, 2020). Noteworthy, the law defines disability status as a demographic category and introduces the practice of compulsory healthcare disparities assessment by medical institutions.
Other Inclusion Strategies
Other inclusion strategies are practiced and implemented more locally and require a more extensive application. The following is a list of the most inspiring examples of inclusion strategies to create a fully inclusive society. The new approaches include creating a universal design for public goods, accessible entrances, and exiting from premises, introducing accommodations, and developing assistive technologies. Universal design aims to make products, communications, and the environment more comfortable for people of all ages and at the lowest cost (Disability and health inclusion strategies, 2020). Seven principles of universal design include equitable use, flexibility in use, simple and intuitive use, perceptible information, tolerance for error, low physical effort, size, and space for approach and use. Examples of universal design are electric doors with sensors at the entrances, or ATMs with audible dubbing of visual information, a tapered bank card opening, and palm rest facilities.
Other good examples are instructions in the form of pictures or diagrams without using text, an alarm system that can be seen and heard, subtitles in television, and video presentations. Then, tolerance for error design includes electrical sockets with circuit protection for bathrooms and kitchens (Disability and health inclusion strategies, 2020). Besides, low physical effort design can be used for door and window handles that make opening easy for people of all ages and abilities. An example of space design is the reasonably low racks and service windows for use by children and the disabled, ramps on the curbs, and sidewalk ramps. Accessibility design can be realized in the form of parking spaces near the entrance to buildings, and wide corridors and shopping areas, freed from unnecessary items.
Independent Living Options
A significant part of people with disabilities can live separately and perform simple everyday actions. However, in more complex situations, such people may need support. Therefore, it is beneficial that nurses visit people with disabilities at home. The state allows any person with a disability to live in the community. Still, the choice should always be for the person who evaluates his or her level of comfort (Disability and health inclusion strategies, 2020). At the same time, when a person lives in assisted living conditions, the staff helps them in dressing, bathing, eating, and using the bathroom. Often assisted living is part of retirement communities or is located next to nursing homes.
Inclusion International is an organization with headquarters in the UK that advocates for the rights of people with disabilities. The main objective of its main program Inclusion Works is to enable people with disabilities to find work and provide for themselves financially. The program also supports people by training self-advocacy and providing social integration. In June 2019, affiliates were opened in Bangladesh, Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda (Inclusion works, 2019). Inclusion Works operates jointly with societies and organizations to protect the rights of people with disabilities and liaises with employers and national representatives. According to the organization, there are more than 1 billion people with disabilities, whereas 800 million live in low- and middle-income countries and are not adequately represented in the workforce (Inclusion works, 2019). This situation has negative economic, cultural, and social consequences. Therefore, Inclusion Works cooperates with employers from the private sector, offering various strategies, practices, and motivation systems. This is a good practice that organizations in the US should adopt.
Promoting Community Inclusion and Positive Attitudes
Many organizations support people with disabilities; besides, this issue is often covered by the media. Therefore, it is imperative to use the right words and speech in the discussion of this topic. For example, many words can sound insulting, even if unintentionally (Disability and health inclusion strategies, 2020). Noteworthy, there is a small vocabulary with speech turnovers that are suitable and unsuitable for describing people with disabilities. Distributing such dictionaries would help reduce the prevalence of stereotypes in society. Promoting inclusion also occurs through the involvement of family members and support staff, including nurses and staff of assisted living facilities. Propaganda through the media and among employers usually has the character of general information. That is why support staff and family members who work closely with people with disabilities can share experiences and provide useful advice to organizations implementing inclusive strategies.
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Policies and Practices of Inclusion International
The Inclusion International aims to support the Inclusion Works program and train other organizations in the consortium on inclusion and provision issues. It often holds events in Bangladesh, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda to connect people with intellectual disabilities with employers. The program works in partnership with the Kenya Association of the Intellectually Handicapped (KAIH), Inclusion Uganda, Ugandan Parents of People with Intellectual Disabilities (UPPID), Down Syndrome Foundation Nigeria (DSFN), Down Syndrome Society Bangladesh (DSSB) (Inclusion works, 2019). Work memoranda include training self-advocacy, training employers in inclusive strategies, and finding resources to support employers participating in the program. Besides, the organization creates direct employment opportunities, educates family members, and identifies best practices for integration at the workplace for people with intellectual disabilities.
Since the program works with private enterprises directly, employers receive positive impressions of such cooperation. If the influence was carried out through obligatory state policy, the effect could rather be negative. But, since the employees of Inclusion International are tolerant and well-educated, employers are more likely to express their willingness to work with people with disabilities. Besides, opportunities for collaboration and long-term support are enhanced through collaboration with local partner organizations.
The importance of this program’s implementation is that more and more people in the described regions get the opportunity to improve their quality of life by getting a job. Even though the program is limited in time and lasts three years, during this time, Inclusion International employees create inclusive practices, which then serve as a basis and example for further development of the program. The program was launched in low- and middle-income countries to meet the needs of those who need the most support.
Conclusion and Recommendations
People with intellectual disabilities are full members of society and should be able to participate in social life. My attitude to people with IDs does not differ and should not differ from the reaction of all other people. Their full and comfortable participation in social life is possible and extremely desirable. However, to implement many social processes, it is necessary to remove physical, social, and communication barriers. Employees of local, state, and international organizations that protect the rights of people with disabilities are working on this. There are also laws guaranteeing the realization of the right to social inclusion for people with disabilities, and each year, these laws are becoming more modern. However, despite the apparent progress in medicine, regulation is still necessary for the social sphere. Besides, there is a need to create more advanced employment practices for people with disabilities in the US.
Chadwick, D.D., Chapman, M. and Caton, S. (2019) ‘Digital inclusion for people with an intellectual disability’, in A Attrill-Smith, C Fullwood, M Keep & DJ Kuss (eds), The Oxford handbook of Cyberpsychology, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 261–285.
Disability and health inclusion strategies (2020) Web.
Inclusion works (2019) Web.
White, P. and Forrester-Jones, R. (2019) ‘Valuing e-inclusion: social media and the social networks of adolescents with intellectual disability’, Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, p.1.
Wilson, N.J., Jaques, H., Johnson, A. and Brotherton, M.L. (2017) ‘From social exclusion to supported inclusion: adults with intellectual disability discuss their lived experiences of a structured social group’, Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 30(5), pp. 847–858.