There's a difference of opinions on where the best place to target cultural change is. Some think it should come from the top down- if we can change big systems, then that will change individual beliefs. Others think that it must come from the bottom up- if we ever hope to truly change a big system, we first have to change the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of the individuals that make up that system. I tend to believe that lasting change needs to happen at multiple levels simultaneously- the individual level, the group level, and within big systems.
A lot of the disability rights movement and the fight for inclusion has focused on generating change from the top down- working on legislation that promotes inclusion, holding systems accountable to upholding the law, etc. That is incredibly important and valuable work, but if we neglect the work to be done at the individual level in re-shaping our understanding of disability, then I believe we will forever be fighting against attitudes and practices that prevent people living with disabilities from fully participating in society.
That's why I started this rallying cry of "the future is inclusive". I'm not just interested in helping people get the resources they need today, I am also deeply interested in re-framing the way we think and talk about disability. For inclusion to happen, we must move beyond fighting for minimal compliance and instead altogether change how we perceive disability. We must embrace disability as a part of diversity and value the disability community as a powerful identity group.
Stay tuned for resources on how we can challenge our own perceptions, encourage others to evaluate their beliefs about disability, and take action to promote inclusion in our own lives and communities.