Is the NDIS promoting inclusion?

Graphic with four circles: one each for exclusion, separation, integration and inclusion.Emily Steel has written a thoughtful piece on how the intent of the National Disability Strategy has been left languishing while the NDIS receives all the attention. Her main point is that the processes and outcomes can end up working against inclusion and perpetuating segregation. She says, “But on its own, the NDIS … risks perpetuating segregation built on the perception that people with disability have ‘special needs’ that cannot be addressed in mainstream society.” The NDIS will only support a relatively small number of people with disability. So what can others expect if they do not qualify for NDIS support? Will the public and private sectors falsely believe that they no longer need to take responsibility for inclusion? All the more reason to support the push for universally designed environments, services, products and programs. You can go to LinkedIn for the full article by Emily. 

The graphic, found on Pinterest, neatly shows the concepts of exclusion, separation, integration and inclusion. It can be applied to any marginalised group of people.

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Embracing diversity is good business

front cover of the report. Black background with a neon sign in red saying openThe Human Rights Commission’s latest report, Missing Out: The business case for customer diversity raises two questions: can organisations afford to ignore the diversity of their customer base? And, what impact will this have over time? The research used for the report shows that organisations that are inclusive enjoy repeat business from their diverse customer base and strong recommendations to others. 

According to the report, around 28% of complaints received by the Commission in 2015-16 alleged discrimination by businesses based on sex, age, race, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity. The report does more than cite customer complaints, it provides a way forward for organisations that want to improve their approach beyond the legal compliance of discrimination laws. Organisations that have embraced diversity in their workforce are generally in a better position to consider diversity in their customer base. So it seems workforce diversity might be a good first step. 

You can see a related article  about disability being an emerging market not a niche market. link to page. http://www.bbc.com/news/disability-39026809

Editor’s note: I notice that the Commission’s report uses the term “organisations” rather than “businesses”. No doubt the not for profit sector has not been immune from complaints.

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Disability Data: Does it add value to the cause of inclusion?

hundreds of lego people, white bodies with yellow heads are lined up like soldiers on paradeThe Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) oversees the funding of Australian Aid projects and has has produced guidelines on universal design for all Australian aid projects.

In a world where a high value is placed on statistics and economics, when it comes to people with disability questions are asked such as, “So how many people are there with disability anyway?” and “Should we bother about a few people when there are so many other things to think about?” These questions also arise at home here in Australia. So what more could statistics add (or detract) from the inclusion agenda? What kind of statistics might matter most? Who is the subject of such data and how is it collected? Who is best placed to collect such data? And who decides on the questions to be asked?

Deborah Rhodes addresses some of these issues in a thoughtful discussion paper “Monitoring and Evaluation in Disability-Inclusive Development: Ensuring data ABOUT disability-inclusive development contributes TO inclusion”. Elements of this discussion paper provide food for thought for both development projects and policy development here at home in Australia. There are some key questions at the end of the paper that should be asked as there are many unspoken assumptions that all data is good data:

  1. What is the most important purpose for collecting data?
  2. Who is determining the reason for the data collection?
  3. What are other purposes for collecting data (that may or may not need to be prioritised)?
  4. How can we ensure that the data we collect is relevant to the policy, programming and attitudinal changes that people in the specific context seek to achieve?
  5. What information will tell us about the specific changes involved?
  6. Who will actually benefit from the information generated?
  7. What is the opportunity cost associated with data collection, i.e. would funds needed for the survey be better spent on raising awareness or responding to local priorities for inclusion?
  8. Will the data help to raise awareness of the costs of exclusion?
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Prams versus wheelchairs: Who wins?

Bus driver helps woman with her wheelie walkerThis item comes from the UK and raises the issue here in Australia – what are the rules for pram users and wheelchair users, and also older people, when there is only one wheelchair bay on the bus? 

In Leeds, a wheelchair user boarded a bus, but a woman with a stroller was occupying the wheelchair bay. Complying with company policy, the driver asked her to move but she refused. The wheelchair user had to wait for the next bus, which meant he missed his train. On the grounds of discrimination, the wheelchair user took the matter to the Supreme Court. The ruling was that drivers are not legally obliged to force someone with a stroller to give up the space. A spokesperson for the bus users organisation said that ultimately everyone should have equal access to public transport, which means the designated wheelchair bay is not protected for wheelchair users only. The spokesperson added that, “we would like to see bus designers, manufacturers and operators thinking more creatively about how buses can meet the needs of all passengers.” 

Sydney Buses has a policy for people with mobility aids and a policy for prams, strollers, and buggies. Basically, a pram user is expected to fold the pram and take a seat in the main section of the bus if a wheelchair user or older person boards the bus after them. Perhaps it is time for a review of bus design as many policy makers annd healthy built environment advocates are pushing for us to use public transport more often – they call it “active travel”.

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Consumer attitudes to inclusive employment practice

a young man with Down syndrome sits at a computer workstation. He is wearing a white shirt and patterned tie. there are other workers at workstations in the background.Canvassing the attitudes of employers towards employing people with disability has been done quite regularly. Seeking the views of the consumers of companies that employ people with disability is also important. This article outlines a national survey carried out by the University of Massachusetts and reveals that companies employing people with disability are viewed positively. 

Abstract. Employers’ negative attitudes and fears have long been a barrier to the employment of individuals with disabilities. Accordingly, attitude literature on the employment of people with disabilities has focused almost exclusively on employers. However, due to their influence over business practices, the successful employment of people with disabilities is also contingent on the views of the consumer. This study extends previous studies that focused on the attitudes of employers, and went directly to the consumer. Consumer attitudes toward companies that hire individuals with disabilities were assessed through a national public survey (N = 803). Most of the participants (75%) had direct experience with people with disabilities in a work environment. Moreover, these experiences were positive. All participants responded positively towards companies that are socially responsible, including 92% of consumers who felt more favorable toward those that hire individuals with disabilities. The participants also had strong positive beliefs about the value and benefits of hiring people with disabilities, with 87% specifically agreeing that they would prefer to give their business to companies that hire individuals with disabilities. Implications of consumer support on company hiring practices are discussed.

The title of the article is, A national survey of consumer attitudes towards companies that hire people with disabilities by Gary N. Sipersteina, Neil Romanob, Amanda Mohlera and Robin Parkera,  2005. Published in Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 24 (2006) 3–9 3 IOS Press.

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Why can’t all documents be Easy Read?

section of the front cover of willing to work report by human rights commissionIf you haven’t seen what an Easy Read document looks like then the report, Willing to Work Easy Read version by the Human Rights Commission, is an excellent example. It contains all the key information in short sentences that suit a wide audience, including people who do not have English as a first language. It is universally designed. So it begs the question, why aren’t all reports written this way? Unless you really need the fine detail, the Easy Read summary version gives most people all the key information quickly and easily.

Black and white logo for easy read, has a tick and a open bookThe Willing to Work report was launched in May 2016. It was a response to the overwhelming number of discrimination complaints relating to employment for both older people and people with disability. It has some interesting facts and shows how poorly we compare to other developed countries around the world in terms of employment. You can download the full report in both PDF and Word from the Human Rights Commission website.

Cathy Basterfield will be making a presentation at the Universal Design Conference on this topic. Her short abstract: “The 44% of the adult population with non-functional literacy are rarely considered in the move for a more inclusive society. Access to information is a critical factor for inclusion and this presentation will show how to plan Easy English in the development of written materials, both printed and online.”

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Universal Design and Reasonable Accommodation

Logo for University of Carlos III Madrid SpainWhat is “reasonableness’ in the concept of reasonable accommodation” when it comes to applying accessibility and universal design? Professor Rafael de Asis Roig discusses this philosophical question in the context of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability. He contends that the content of universal accessibility is “constrained by three types of circumstances that could be considered as the bounds for what is necessary, possible and reasonable”.

Australian Human Rights Commission logoFor anyone interested in the debate about reasonableness, and the application of “unjustifiable hardship” rulings by the Australian Human Rights Commission, this article explores reasonableness from different perspectives and concludes,

“Therefore, in accordance with the foregoing, it is possible to have a comprehensive vision about reasonableness in the disability domain. This demand makes it necessary to deem a measure as reasonable in the context of disabilities when:

  • It is justified because it adequately provides for full participation in society.
  • It shall be deemed as possible, taking into account the state of scientific, technical and human diversity knowledge.
  • It shall be deemed as a non-discriminatory differentiation or undifferentiation which is not harmful for physical and moral integrity and at the same time does not prevent from meeting basic needs nor avoids participation in society on an equal basis.
  • It shall be deemed as proportional and, therefore, entails more advantages than sacrifices within the context of human rights.
  • It shall be deemed as acceptable by the community to which it is addressed.”

The article, Reasonableness in the Concept of Reasonable Accommodation, was published in The Age of Human Rights Journal, 6 (June 2016)

An earlier unpublished article tackles the issues of human rights and “unjustifiable hardship” in the Australian context by Schraner, Bringolf and Sidoti which discusses the issues from an economic perspective. Written in 2012, it pre-dates the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

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