Inclusion is about truly leveling the playing field

Inclusion is one of those words that has a beautiful ring to it, but in practice can mean many things to many people. Inclusion is about more than putting nonverbal students in mainstream classrooms. It goes beyond physical supports, like access ramps to the local library.

Inclusion is about giving everyone the opportunity to participate and contribute fully. It is also about making sure the necessary supports are there to level the playing field. There can be no inclusion without accommodations in place and supports provided. A ramp for wheelchair users who can’t speak won’t help much if librarians ignore them once they’re inside the building. If the communication needs of a nonverbal student in a mainstream classroom are not met, there is no inclusion.

Inclusion starts with presuming competence

We need to presume that a nonverbal student has the ability to learn and develop. We have to recognize that the fact that someone uses a wheelchair does not say anything about a person’s cognitive abilities or value. Inclusion is very much about respect and appreciation. It’s all about attitudes.

Complete inclusion is not a destination but a journey. There is always more to learn, and more we can and should do. It is a journey we need to travel together. You cannot advocate for people with communication challenges. You need to advocate with them.

Our theme for this year’s AAC Awareness Month is inclusion. During the month of October we will be sharing resources on inclusion of people with communication challenges in society and school. If you are looking for practical tips we invite you to take a look at these 2 articles:

12 ways to include everyone to communicate in your community

7 ways to include AAC users in conversation

AAC Awareness Month Discount

As part of AAC Awareness Month, several of our communication apps will be 50% off on 14, 15 and 16 October. Please take a look at our discount announcement blog for more details.

David Niemeijer

AssistiveWare’s Founder & CEO