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Embracing a New Year: The Unfinished Battle for Inclusion

A New Year sparks new beginnings. A fresh outlook, optimism renewed. Despite the passage of time, the fight for true inclusivity continues to be an ongoing battle that demands our attention and commitment. Today, more than 25% of Canadians identify as having a disability. The new, and still anticipated Canadian Disability Benefit will help drive independence, however, we still need to shed light on the struggles and the imperative need for a collective effort toward fostering a more inclusive world. These conversations must continue.

The Illusion of Progress:

Despite advancements in various fields, it’s essential to question whether the progress we celebrate truly translates into inclusive societies. Are marginalized voices genuinely being heard, or are we merely paying lip service to the ideals of diversity and inclusion? Do they have a place at the table, or just merely being fed from time to time?

Inclusion is not just about visible diversity; it extends to dismantling the invisible barriers that hinder equal opportunities. Discrimination, bias, and systemic obstacles persist, making it crucial to delve deeper into the structures that perpetuate exclusion. Whether in the physical world or the digital realm, ensuring that spaces and platforms are accessible to everyone is a vital step towards breaking down barriers. Ensuring Universal Design in building codes and architecture is a must, but still has a long way to go to be considered a new normal in those sectors.

It begins with education. Education plays a pivotal role in shaping inclusive mindsets. Inclusive education fosters environments that celebrate diversity and promote understanding. This has been a mainstay in British Columbia since the 1980s, in no small part from the efforts of DDA’s founders, but more funding for support is always needed.

The business world is a powerful force for change. Companies must go beyond diversity quotas and actively cultivate inclusive cultures. We must remind the business community that employing and empowering people with developmental disabilities fosters a better corporate culture, promotes employee well-being and retention, and has a positive impact on the bottom line. Costs of making it all work are marginal.

Inclusivity involves amplifying the voices of those often unheard. Whether through media representation or community initiatives, it’s crucial to empower marginalized groups to share their stories and perspectives. In an interconnected world, the fight for inclusion is a global endeavor.

As we embark on a new year, let us not forget that the fight for inclusion is far from over. It’s a collective responsibility that requires continuous effort, awareness, and a genuine commitment to change. By acknowledging the existing challenges and working together, we can strive towards a world where everyone feels valued, heard, and included.