With Australia’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008, we began a process of dismissing outdated notions of disability as immutably restricting an individual’s opportunities.
Instead, we now move towards an (applied) understanding of disability as indicative of systems and structures which are unfit for purpose, and well overdue for redesign. Since ratifying the UNCRPD Australia has come a long way. For most, the tangible example is the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), which is well on its way to influencing every area and level of government before its roll-out concludes in 2019.
The NDIS is only part of the action, however; we’re also into the second version of our National Disability Strategy and, courtesy of legislation enacted by the NSW parliament, every NSW government department will have a disability inclusion action plan enacted effective July 2017, by which to improve inclusion by and for people who live with disabilities, and upon which they are required to report progress.
To realise full inclusion, we must move beyond reasonable adjustment and embed universal design into everything we do.
Every system; every process; every product and service, need examine its assumptions; recognise arbitrary impediments to access; and broaden accessibility. Success requires a change to mindset - which will take time - but with practice and mutually supportive encouragement, our society will be richer through inclusion.