FundAbility and other ways to create a more inclusive society
Around 20% of Australians live with disability. While these numbers show that disability is relatively common, there are still many ways in which society excludes and discriminates against people with disability.
Northcott is working to change this, to create an environment where everyone is supported to achieve their goals and live the life they wish to lead.
To learn more about what individuals can do to support disability inclusion, we spoke to Northcott’s Manager Inclusive Practice Liz Hopkins, who has some simple tips on how we can all make progress towards an inclusive future.
Remember we are all human
All of our social interactions should start with the recognition that we are all human. Every one of us has the same basic needs, regardless of our individual circumstances. We all require water, food and shelter and we all want to be loved and feel valued. This is no different for people with disability. There’s much truth in the saying that you should treat others the way you wish to be treated.
Don’t assume all disabilities are visible
While we often associate disability with wheelchairs and other mobility aids, it’s important to recognise that not all disabilities are visible. For example 26% of NDIS participants have Autism Spectrum Disorder - a disability that can’t be recognised just by looking at a person.
Recognise that communication comes in different forms
Just because someone doesn’t communicate verbally doesn’t mean they don’t communicate. People with disability who are non-verbal can use a variety of communication aids, including alphabet boards and speech-generating devices.
Listen to the person you are communicating with and wait until they are finished before you respond. People with speech impairment often find it frustrating when others try to complete their sentences for them. Though you may think you’re being helpful, it’s important to show respect by allowing the person the time to say what they want to say.
If in doubt remember to be patient, keep things simple and talk directly to the person - not their carer.
Ask before offering support
While many of us have the best of intentions, you should always ask before providing assistance to a person with disability. Never assume that someone with disability wants or needs your support.
The needs of a person with disability are as varied as the needs of any individual. Though it may appear that someone requires a particular type of support, we can never really know unless we ask.
When out and about with family, friends or work colleagues we want to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable time. Before heading out, check accessibility options, including transportation, parking, toilets, lifts etc. However, also keep in mind that just because a certain location says they are accessible, doesn’t mean it will be this way when you get there. It’s not uncommon to arrive at an accessible venue only to find items blocking a hallway or wheelchair accessible ramp. A polite word to a staff member should be enough and is a great opportunity to spread the inclusion message.
Educate yourself on ableism
Ableism is a form of discrimination or prejudice against people with disability and whilst it is easy to recognise slang words which are ableist, there are many forms of ableism of which we may not be aware. For example, defining a person by their disability or praising them simply for doing everyday things like leaving the house.
To get a better understanding of ableism, check out Jeremy the Dud, a comedy about a world where almost everyone has a disability and the minority able-bodied people are discriminated against.
Make use of Fundability
Funding grants are a great way to create a more inclusive social environment and they’re often easier to access than you think!
For example, the FundAbility program, which aims to make communities more inclusive for people with disability by providing one-off grants to families, communities, organisations, services and businesses for inclusive projects.
This year’s FundAbility will focus on disability inclusion for adults with disability aged 18 to 64 years.
These grants can be used in a range of ways, both big and small. Do you own a café? You could use your grant to purchase a ramp to allow access for all patrons. Run an art class? You could use your grant to purchase adjustable easels. At the end of the day you’re only limited by your imagination.
Applications are open from Monday 19 March 2018.
FundAbility applications are open from Monday 19 March to Tuesday 24 April 2018. To apply visit the FundAbility page on the Northcott website.
Northcott Advisor in Inclusive Practice Shirls Wong offers her tips on communicating with people with disability