I have always assumed that other activists shared my understanding of inclusion, as they have been saying the right words that led me to my understanding over the last twenty years. I have therefore been confused and frustrated to understand why in recent years they have radically changed their tune, now focusing on welfare issues with an exclusion agenda they do not understand nor realise its implications. Last week, it dawned on me that perhaps my frustration was caused by the fact they never really understood inclusion, seeing it as merely nice words on paper?
I do not see inclusion as a right but rather a responsibility and aspiration for high expectations. No amount of extra income or changes to the environment will create inclusion if someone is not motivated to include themselves. Inclusion is not necessarily paid employment, but this should never be ruled out. Too many people with impairments are pushed towards voluntary work, often within fat cat charities, as the only type of work they can expect.
Inclusion is being the person you are inside and not letting anyone or anything stop you from doing that, especially your own excuses. Impairment creates challenges that should not be ignored but neither should they become excuses. The world is not perfect, and it will never be perfect, so does unproductively complaining about the small parts not perfect really help the situation?
I fear that the rights that were supposedly designed to liberate people with impairments are in fact designed to slow down inclusion. If we assume these rights, even at a United Nations level with the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD), were designed by people who did not understand how to deliver meaningful inclusion but merely how to write a utopian document designed to look pleasing, then we can see the problem.
The problem is all these rights assume in whatever context that impairment is a biological inferiority by activists themselves, which can be seen by the current ‘debate’ on whether people with downs syndrome should be allowed to exist. Therefore the rights are framed as passive and protection led in a similar frame to animal rights. Social protection (welfare benefits) and a humane existence will be the priority where other rights will just be standard political speak. When activists with impairments mostly accept this place in society and demand protection to remain in this social role, we can see why the current range of rights is oppressive.
The biggest test for UNCRPD in proving if it is a tool for inclusion or exclusion, will be the complaint made by UK welfare activists against the British government. The complaint is an attack on the government’s desire to include more people with impairments into paid work, as opposed to throwing them on the scrapheap. The activists however feel it is a right to be labelled unfit for society and sit at home doing nothing all day as its ‘more humane’. These activists also do not care about the cultural oppression people with learning difficulties face by charitable services nor the abuses of the powerful carers movement.
I fear the outcome of the UNCRPD investigation few people will ever be aware of will be a politically correct and socialist bias beating on the government for daring to see anyone who labels themselves as disabled people as having the potential to be fully included citizens, demanding their remain treated as vulnerable people regardless of their individual situations. So basically, the conclusion will be it is my right to be excluded from society but not included as this causes too much work for people. It will also confirm that social responsibility does not apply to people with impairments as it is always easier to blame others.
The fight for meaningful inclusion has not disappeared as I now realised it never existed, merely nice words on nice paper to mask a protectionist and exclusion agenda. So long as people keep their label based benefits regardless of what they actually need, everyone including the United Nations is happy.