Sunday, February 18, 2007

Does Inclusion Restrict Choice? Or Does It Offer More?

I recently received an interesting letter from a gentleman with a disability who states the he feels "very at home among the handicapped." He wonders why I have such a stress on inclusion. Is that not "cutting off an option?" - that of being with others who also have a disability?

A fair question. I think this notion of inclusion (meaning you are taking my choice to be with other people with disabilities) is a common misperception. Integration for any minority should not eliminate the right for that minority to decide to come together - to live, recreate, socialize, marry, share, or for political advocacy. It isn't only one way or the other.

What I am opposed to is the forced segregation of people with disabilities. (I realize "forced" is a strong word. People can of course choose to not do anything. But generally, if you want to have an education, a job, or a place to live, your options are forced into segregated ones.)

When confronted, segregation proponents usually offer a defense that boils down to several components, one of which is, well, they like their "own kind." I remember hearing this argument used to explain why black Americans were made to go to separate schools, or ride in the back of the bus. "They like being together." Of course people are drawn to others who share a commonality - and that can certainly include having a disability. But that is a sad excuse for restricting equal access.

Civil rights means a level playing field and the absence of imposed segregation. It also means you have more choices and diversity about where you work, whom you socialize with, or who will be your classmate.

Let's just take the work domain. Right now, if you want to work and you happen to have a disability, for 90% of the population with severe developmental disabilities, that means a sheltered workshop. A place where only other people with developmental disabilities will be. A job match should be about several things, including your interests, skills, and where you can be most productive. A workshop provides none of this -

So does inclusion cut off an option? On the contrary, I believe it opens them up.

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1 Comments:

At January 5, 2008 at 3:15 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

THE MANAGER
Dale DiLeo

Dear Sir/Madam,


SPONSERSHIP & COLLABORATION

We write to introduce to you Twin-City Optimist International Club of Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana.
Optimist International is one of the largest and most active community service organizations across America, Asia and Europe, ‘Bringing out the Best in Kids.’ The Ghana charter was formed to allow easy reach to developing communities in Ghana. Optimist International comprises of more than 115,000 members in 3,500 clubs worldwide. Promoting the motto “Friends of Youth”, optimist conduct positive community service programs that reach in excess of youth in various communities.

We diligent focus on humanitarian inequalities such as poverty, hunger, illiteracy, job insecurities, violence amongst others targeted youth in community, hence, we agree with initiatives that equip our target with the resources to help the entire YOUTH & CHILDREN in communities to escape such crucial phenomenon.

Our purpose, is to develop Optimism as a philosophy of life utilizing the tenets of the Optimist creed; to inspire respect for law; to promote patriotism and work for international accord and friendship among all people; to aid and encourage the development of youth in the belief that, the giving of one’s self in service to others will advance the well-being of humankind, community life and world as large.

For some time now, our new Charter in Ghana operations, needs a prominent personality or organization like YOU to solicit your support in this new project in Ghana, in respect of your high status in society as our organization seeks to “Bringing Out the Best in Kids and Youth” in communities. And for that matter, we believe that, YOUR COMPANY is the right organization to collaborate with, and establish a lasting working relationship with, once we know you records.

As Twin-City Optimist International Club of Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana, sources its contributions in form of grants, donations, gifts and other voluntary contributions from benevolent institutions, sponsor organizations, local and international aid agencies, for the community development plan to sustain our needy children national growth programmes.

We hereby request your consent and participation in the mentioned capacity to become the first “Sponsors of Twin-City Optimist International Club of Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana.”

We urge you to explore Optimist International website at www.optimist.org opportunities for coordinating our efforts on this matter. We deem it most appropriate therefore to establish a long-term collaboration with you for the development of this initiative upon mutual agreement. After your confirmation to this proposal, we shall forward your response to our Optimist International headquarters in Missouri USA, for publication worldwide.

We also believe in collaborative effort towards making this dream a reality. For that matter, we encourage teamwork that delivers effective results to carefully structured schemes that go into materializing the dream. As we look forward to start new activities such as expanding our community service projects as well as collaborating with corporations and organizations in a mutually beneficial way.
We deem it appropriate to let you know about our existence in Sekondi-Takoradi Ghana, and the numerous opportunities we offer, enhancing specifically the image of institutions and corporations that partner with us. We are indeed grateful to introduce ourselves and hope to have the opportunity of working together with you and the entire children to the international level.

In case you are interested to associate with, and sponsor Twin-City Optimist Club of Sekondi-Takoradi Ghana, please do not hesitate to contact us for our basic needs and eligible projects or programs. You can book an official appointment with us, using the following numbers:

Board of Director Dr. Tawiah Semiah, Tel: 0242-684 243
President: Mr. Godfried Gyadu Sarpong, Tel: 020-905 2388
Vice President: Mr. John Bentil, Tel: 020-936 5404
Executive Secretary: Mr. Richard Kwaku Sam, Tel: 027-770 1777

We look forward to hearing from you, and working with you soon.

Yours faithfully,

Godfried Gyadu Sarpong
(Charter President)
Twin-City Optimist Int. Club
of Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana
PO Box MC 1582
Takoradi-Ghana
West Africa.
Tel: +233 20 905 2388
“ +233 27 329 7830
83011@optimistmail.org
godfriedsap@yahoo.com

 

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Does Inclusion Restrict Choice? Or Does It Offer More?

I recently received an interesting letter from a gentleman with a disability who states the he feels "very at home among the handicapped." He wonders why I have such a stress on inclusion. Is that not "cutting off an option?" - that of being with others who also have a disability?

A fair question. I think this notion of inclusion (meaning you are taking my choice to be with other people with disabilities) is a common misperception. Integration for any minority should not eliminate the right for that minority to decide to come together - to live, recreate, socialize, marry, share, or for political advocacy. It isn't only one way or the other.

What I am opposed to is the forced segregation of people with disabilities. (I realize "forced" is a strong word. People can of course choose to not do anything. But generally, if you want to have an education, a job, or a place to live, your options are forced into segregated ones.)

When confronted, segregation proponents usually offer a defense that boils down to several components, one of which is, well, they like their "own kind." I remember hearing this argument used to explain why black Americans were made to go to separate schools, or ride in the back of the bus. "They like being together." Of course people are drawn to others who share a commonality - and that can certainly include having a disability. But that is a sad excuse for restricting equal access.

Civil rights means a level playing field and the absence of imposed segregation. It also means you have more choices and diversity about where you work, whom you socialize with, or who will be your classmate.

Let's just take the work domain. Right now, if you want to work and you happen to have a disability, for 90% of the population with severe developmental disabilities, that means a sheltered workshop. A place where only other people with developmental disabilities will be. A job match should be about several things, including your interests, skills, and where you can be most productive. A workshop provides none of this -

So does inclusion cut off an option? On the contrary, I believe it opens them up.

Labels: , ,