Depending on personal experience, the term “access and inclusion” means different things to different people. The idea of who is currently included and excluded is often framed by this experience. People with invisible disability are easily left out of “access and inclusion”. For example, people with intellectual disability, different cognitive conditions, and people with mental health issues. Consequently, inclusive cities need more than a ramp and tactile markers.
Planning and social policies talk of inclusive cities and social sustainability, but making it happen is another matter. Gains have been made in terms of accessibility for wheelchair users and people with vision impairment. That’s because it is written into the building code. What we don’t have is a code for all the other types of disability that are, at first glance, invisible. People with intellectual disability are one group who find themselves sitting outside of community activities. So, in what ways can we ensure their inclusion in the city?
A literature review of research papers on this topic found some useful information. Australian researchers applied the ‘Inclusive Cities Framework’ to the papers and found that local authorities can take actions to improve inclusion at a local level. For the most part they involved community groups, local businesses and civic activities.
- Information and support for community groups, local businesses, potential employees and potential mentors.
- Shared activities (both structured and unstructured) to share learning, activities and build relationships
- Conversation and sharing of stories – in formal and informal ways, to share information and networking both across and within community groups and all citizens, whether they identify as having an intellectual disability, as potential employers, employees, and com-munity leaders.
Inclusion of people with intellectual disability relies on having interpersonal relationships within the community. It has to be more than just being on the member list or in the room with other people. Quality of participation is the point of an inclusive city.
The title of the article is: Towards inclusive cities and social sustainability: A scoping review of initiatives to support the inclusion of people with intellectual disability in civic and social activities. It is an open access article.
- Aiming to be inclusive for all does not automatically lead to participation for all people.
- People with intellectual disability continue to be excluded from the full experience of cities – despite an awareness of social sustainability.
- This paper identifies how people with intellectual disability are impacted by policy and practices around citizen involvement.
- The experiences of people with intellectual disability inform how the Inclusive Cities Framework is understood and applied to define meaningful participation for all people.
From the Abstract
The inclusion of people with intellectual disability in cultural and civic activities is an important particularly in the context of supporting the social sustainability of our local communities and cities. Local governments and community organisations are poised to play a pivotal role in the inclusion of people with intellectual disability.
We undertook a scoping review of local inclusion building initiatives in Australia and other countries that helped connect people with intellectual disability with their local community. The role people with intellectual disability played in the assessment and evaluation of these resources was also examined.
Analysis of the results offers opportunities to consider the ways in which the personal preferences of people with intellectual disability can be interwoven with structure and levels of participation to improve social inclusion in their local communities.
From the Editor: I wrote a conference paper on inclusion and inclusiveness. See the post on What does Inclusion really mean?