Critical thinking key to changing perspectives on disability

The following is the fifth and final in a series of articles highlighting National AccessAbility Week. Written by Christopher Lytle, Brock’s AODA Co-ordinator in the Office of Human Rights and Equity, the stories appeared in The Brock News from Monday, May 27 to Friday, May 31.

In celebration of National AccessAbility Week, I’ve been writing over the past few days about being reflexive with regards to how we view people with disabilities.  

What this series of articles has touched upon is the narrative that disability is a social construct. As participants in society, the onus is on us to become aware of the negative constructs that reproduce systems of exclusion in our culture, economy and networks.

If we can become critical of how these systems work, then we are better equipped to counteract their negative effects. Also, if we can grasp a view of how social systems work, then we can make sure that our societal critique is invested in developing inclusion for everyone, not just people with disabilities.

We can dream about what sort of environment we want to take part in. Soon, I predict that our communities will start to reify disability as a part of cultural diversity instead of limiting ourselves to seeing disability as a reaction to an accommodation request. Sculpting our future requires that we start looking to be inclusive of everyone and being certain that we all are given the opportunities to succeed.

For those who will move on after graduation, as well as those who will remain invested in seeing the University excel, thinking critically about ideas such as inclusion, ableism or intersectionality will provide a foundational tool that will assist in navigating our way through this dynamic world.

So, the next time we hear of any discussion that frames mental health in a negative manner, uses outdated terminology to describe the usage of a mobility device, or questions the validity of someone’s personhood because of an invisible disability, think critically about how we all can change those perspectives to be inclusive instead.

Although this is the end of National AccessAbility Week, the thoughts and practices that go into creating an inclusive society are always churning and there is endless opportunity to become involved. Good luck to you all and remember that no matter where you are, we should all be able to enjoy human rights equally.

Sincerest thanks to The Brock News for hosting this series and to the students and staff of the Office of Human Rights and Equity who assisted me in creating the themes for this week’s articles.

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