The image shows the “Make the Right Real in Malaysia” logo of The OKU Rights Matter website and an image of two smiling brothers, the older with his right hand over the right shoulder of the younger one with spinal muscular atrophy and using a wheelchair.

Disability and Inclusion Matters

Even trees need a friend. We all need friends. It all happens automatically. We want to use a lot pressure while using no pressure at all.

Disability and Inclusion Matters

Globally, persons with disabilities represent 15 percent (or 1 billion) of the world’s population.

Disability is a natural part of human diversity which should be valued and respected. Diversity is beautiful and enriching, and so is disability.

The social construct perspective of disability explains that:

  • Barriers to access and participation are created by the mainstream society.
  • Persons with disabilities are disabled by the environment we live in – which is designed by and for non-disabled people – and not by the features of a person’s physical and psychological functioning.

The rights perspective of disability views that:

  • Persons with disabilities have equal rights as our non-disabled peers to access information, healthcare, education, employment, independent and interdependent living, as well as participate and contribute to the society.
  • It is everyone’s responsibility to enable persons with disabilities to meaningfully participate in our society, by supporting our needs and aspirations.

Nothing About Us Without Us

The principle emphasises the importance of including persons with disabilities in all decision-making process from the beginning, and all aspects of society participation because persons with disabilities are within the society. We are your neighbour, your colleague, your friend, your family member.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) recognises that:

“disability is an evolving concept and that disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others” (UNCRPD, 2006, p. 1).

“Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others” (UNCRPD, 2006, p. 4).

Inclusion means ensuring that everyone in society, with or without visible or defined disabilities, has the same opportunities to participate in every aspect of life to the best of each person’s abilities and aspirations in every setting. Inclusion is not about the person with disability fitting in and meeting society’s norms. Inclusion is about valuing and accepting each person for who they are, including their disability, and the diversity they bring to the society. Inclusion is about adapting systems and removing barriers to ensure that persons with disabilities have access to basic human needs and participate meaningfully in society.

Inclusion is treating the person with disability with dignity and respect.

Inclusion is respecting the right of a person with disability to make her/his own decisions.