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Include Disability in Diversity

Diversity- according to the Oxford Dictionary - is a "range of many people [or things] that are very different from each other." Diversity has also been described as "a satisfying mix of ideas, cultures, races, genders, economic statuses and other characteristics necessary for promoting growth and learning..." In other words, diversity means - UNLIKE - each other.

There has been a great deal of public opinion, corporate profiling and media attention on the need for greater diversity. I agree. It is also very important to remember to include people with disabilities. They are often unrepresented, and forgotten across all spectrums and very much discriminated against. The word is: Ableism. "Ableism is discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities and/or people who are perceived to be disabled. Ableism characterizes people who are defined by their disabilities as inferior to the non-disabled."

According to the Institute on Disability, “If people with disabilities were a formally recognized minority group, at 19% of the population, they would be the largest minority group in the United States. Individual with disabilities intersect across all walks of life, in all professions, across all races, religions, ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic classes." It is estimated that over 54 million Americans have some form of disability. Individuals with disabilities are greatly prevalent in our lives. They have made many meaningful contributions to society, our government, our science and our human existence. They continuously enhance our lives as they bring depth, knowledge and joy. Nevertheless, barriers to equal opportunity continue to exist. It is crucial that we continue to acknowledge, welcome and invite people with disabilities from the fringes into the actual fabric of our world.

By embracing disability as a natural part of diversity, we enhance our own self-awareness and grasp of the world around us. It’s about accepting and celebrating the infinite dimensions of diversity inherent in all of us. Let's open our eyes and our hearts to Diversity and remember to include all people all of the time.

Make an effort to communicate with those who are different than you. Learn to see and search beyond the surface, recognize their worthiness and open your eyes to the beauty in Diversity. You can and will see the human-ness in each person.

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