We are far away from the times when adults with disabilities were warehoused in places like Staten Island’s Willowbrook School. Additionally, we’ve made progress in our country with the creation of agencies such as Opengate which offer real homes and resources that enrich the lives of its consumers.
Although the years have seen progress, especially with passage of the ADA, we as a society still have a long way to go to ensure these citizens and their rights are protected.
Inclusion into communities is one of the ways adults with disabilities are able to be seen as productive people who have many of the same wants and needs as those without disabilities. Whenever possible, we strive to pave the way for them through education, housing, and prevocational opportunities tailored to their abilities.
Ability is the focus of our programs and services, where each person is participating according to their distinct abilities and working towards personal positive outcomes. Their goals are the blueprint for services and programs made available at Opengate and through our partnerships in the communities we serve.
Inclusion is often a broad term used to determine that those with disabilities be afforded the same opportunities as the mainstream with the notion that one can learn from the other, without focusing on a person’s disability, rather embracing them for their differences and showing acceptance.
While not a way to “normalize” individuals with disabilities, inclusion must be a change in attitudes where the disabled population is not looked upon with pity or sorrow, but to see their differences and their abilities as a valuable source in the community.
Inclusion also emphasizes the transformation of our culture into one that believes persons with disabilities don’t necessarily need to overcome or achieve any more than what they have the capacity to do. Furthermore, the desire for a full and complete life is the cornerstone for every individual whether part of the disabled community or not.
Like other movements of the past, the movement for inclusion seeks to end any and all discriminatory practices towards people with disabilities and base practices on the individual’s abilities to maintain their own lives.