Right Words
Right Words

Integration vs Inclusion: Changing a few little letters makes a world of difference.

What does the disability community really want? Nothing too surprising: For all people to be able to share in a more common and equitable life experience. That means everyone gets the same opportunities for employment, education, entrepreneurship, recreation, dating… you get the picture.

Unfortunately, this simple goal is seriously far-fetched in some people’s minds. The way forward, to open everyone’s eyes to what our world should be like, starts with understanding one easy idea: Inclusion.

Inclusion is not the same as integration. There are countless examples of what sets the two apart, but you can think of it this way: If your kid is in school, and she has a disability, “integration” might mean they just put her in “regular” classes and expect her to adjust to the standard way of doing things in those classes. She’s invited, as long as she can function as quote-unquote “normal.”

Inclusion, on the other hand, means there’s a process going on in which the school is updating its teaching methods and structures so that your daughter and others like her actually can succeed in her new environment, so that everybody gets an equitable, participatory learning experience. When this happens, which is still unfortunately rare, it does require a new and creative look at how a school (or business) is serving the people who go there. And the process of figuring all that out is complex and challenging. But the outcome is actually very simple: Your daughter learns, makes friends, and feels included. The other students in her class also benefit from modern teaching methods and get the great benefit of knowing her better and learning from her, just like you already do. Pretty ideal, right?

Zully JF Alvarado Zully JF Alvarado
Zully JF Alvarado – Dedicated rights advocate and founder of Causes for Change International.
  • Watch/Read
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    Video

    Photojournalist Dan Habib made a movie about his family’s efforts to include his son Samuel, in all aspects of school and community. You can watch the trailer, which opens with some of the best giggling you’ll ever hear, right here.

    Watch
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    Video

    Meet 8-year-old Thasya Lumingkewas, whose autism doesn’t prevent her from learning and connecting at school – because her school works with her.

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    [School] Video

    Bernard Baker lives independently with a disability, and helps others do the same.

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    Editorial

    Elizabeth Guffey, who is an art and design history professor living with cerebral palsy, shares what that little blue and white wheelchair icon means to her.

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    [School] Editorial

    Sara Schley explains why making learning more accessible helps everyone - not just students with disabilities.

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    [School] Article

    Kathie Snow, mom and author of “Disability is Natural,” breaks down the huge difference between true inclusion and everything else.

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    Article

    The folks at Think Inclusive use a now-famous set of images to show what inclusion really looks like.

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    [School] Article

    What is UDL for Learning? // Using Universal Design for Learning in the Classroom

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  • Upgrade your Workplace
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    Video

    Ten people explain in 60 seconds why jobs and employment should be about what you CAN do, not what you can’t.

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    Video

    Quick animation showing how to empower Inclusion in the Workplace.

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    Video

    Jim Sinocchi, Head of Disability Inclusion at JPMorgan Chase, explains his theory of the four As in creating an inclusive work environment.

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    Article

    The Financial Times walks through how accommodating employees with disabilities is cheaper than you’d think, and pays off big.

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    Guidelines

    Wondering how to practice inclusion in your organization? See how 14 successful companies, from AT&T to Walgreens, are doing it.

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    Guidelines

    What’s the difference between “qualified” and “job-ready”? And how much do “accommodations” typically actually cost? Ask EARN.

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    Toolkit

    To move beyond basic ADA compliance and actually be inclusive in your workplace, you’re going to need tools. Here you go.

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