Social inclusion from the perspective of persons with disability

5 03 2012

The professional literature indicates that social inclusion means full and fair access to community-based resources and activities, having relationships with family, friends and acquaintances, and having a sense of belonging to a group. Furthermore, this approach claims that it is not enough that people with disabilities would be in the community, they should be part of the community. That is to say, social inclusion represents more than the mere physical presence, but the participation and engagement in the mainstream society.

While the literature on social inclusion is vast, there is no one consensual definition of social inclusion. Furthermore, we still don’t really understand what social inclusion means and there is still no real way to determine and measure whether service providers are successful in facilitating or achieving social inclusion for the persons they support.

Given the fact that in the disability field we can not fully understand social inclusion or any other topic without asking the notion of people with disabilities, it is encouraging to see studies that examined the perspective of people with disability on social inclusion. For example,  in her meta-analysis, Hall* describes the elements and experiences of social inclusion for people with disabilities. Furthermore, she identified six dimensions of social inclusion:

  • being accepted and recognized as an individual beyond the disability
  • having personal relationships with family, friends, and acquaintances
  • being involved in recreation, leisure and other social activities
  • having appropriate living accommodations
  • having employment
  • having appropriate formal (service system) and informal (family and caregiver) supports.

What can be learn about these dimensions and how you think that they could help us promote social inclusion of people with disability?

* Hall SA. The social inclusion of people with disabilities: a qualitative meta-analysis.

J Ethnogr Qual Res 2009; 3:162–173.



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