December 29, 2021 By CDHD How to be more inclusive in 2022 With the New Year just days away, now is the perfect time to reflect on the year passed and consider the clean slate ahead. It’s a time to set resolutions with the hope of improving ourselves and making the world around us just a little bit better. In that spirit, let’s resolve to make 2022 the year of inclusion. Here’s how. Listen and learn The first step in becoming a more inclusive person is as simple as listening and learning. Learn about the issues facing the disability community as well as their achievements. Learn about practices, laws and legislation that both harm and benefit them. Most importantly, engage with the disability community. From reading books to developing personal relationships, there is no better teacher than those with firsthand experience. Speak with people with disabilities in your community and listen to what they have to say. What do they like? What don’t they like? What do they need? What don’t they need? Listen and learn to understand the challenges and successes of any community to better advocate for and with them. Be aware of your words Like most things in life, communication is key when trying to be more inclusive. It’s important to understand the power of words and the difference it can make to use them correctly. Commit to obvious steps such as eliminating offensive language. And commit to understanding that there may be other, unintentional words that can alienate people with disabilities. Learn about People First Language. This is the practice of putting the person before their disability when communicating. Not only is this a great foundational step in becoming a more conscientious, inclusive person, but it’s also a valuable lesson in how language can be used to empower those around us. Speak directly to people Speaking of communication, you may be surprised to find out that people with disabilities are often overlooked in conversation. Sometimes others address care assistants or interpreters rather than speaking directly to people with disabilities. Like any other person, speak to people with disabilities as adults and speak directly to them rather than an accompanying person. If they do not respond immediately, never assume that they can’t or won’t. Overall, be patient and courteous. Make your environments more accessible Everyday environments can present more barriers than we realize for people with disabilities. From narrow doorways to inappropriate visual contrast, the list of potential obstacles is long. Make a commitment to identify, discuss and rectify accessibility issues in your environments wherever possible. If the bathrooms at your workplace are inaccessible, discuss the issue with HR to see what steps can be taken. If you notice an accessibility issue at a local store or restaurant, strike up a friendly conversation with management. The goal should be to improve our spaces to ensure the widest possible audience can enjoy them. Plus supporting businesses and environments where accessibility is a priority sends a clear message that inclusive design is a vital part of any community.