At Purple Orange, our mission is to create a world where all people living with disability get a fair go at everything life has to offer. If we don't get it right at a school setting we can't expect to get it right throughout the rest of life. That's why we are running the Inclusive School Communities Project, a project aimed at equipping schools with the knowledge and experience they need to provide an inclusive education to all their students.
If kids grow up studying and playing alongside kids who live with disability, then it's no big leap later in life to work alongside colleagues who live with disability, or to hire and be hired by people living with disability.
It also means that all those kids destined to be future business owners, CEOs and managers will already get the importance of accessibility because it will just be the norm.
If, on the other hand, kids living with disability grow up separated from those who don't, then how can we expect them to thrive in the wider community as adults? It is not just people living with disability who lose, but all of society, whether they realise it or not. Diversity brings new perspectives, innovation and creativity. Just imagine what ideas we have missed out on by practices that have not allowed so many people to thrive.
In the below video, we hear from young adults living with disability about how they were excluded in school. Warning - It's upsetting to hear, but it's important because but we need to know what ways we are getting it wrong, in order to improve.
This video has captions that can be turned on.
So what exactly is inclusive education? In the following video, young adults tell what it means to them by reflecting on their own experiences.
There are two versions of this same video. The first has captions that can be turned on, and the second one has an audio description track, as there is some animation in this video.
What is inclusive education - with audio description track.
[MUSIC PLAYING] Sometimes it gets thrown around as a bit of a buzzword.
We all like to use the wording "inclusive education," but inclusive means that you're included in every aspect of school.
Inclusive education is not only providing the materials and the necessary support to help them get through their school work.
But there's also the aspect of being included.
It is bridging the gap between the disability and the non-disability community within our schools.
Educating people how to be more inclusive to everybody else.
If there was more understanding in schools, hopefully, there'd be less bullying both by students and, unfortunately, teachers as well.
Listening to the person with a disability, and what they need to feel included, and as part of the community.
Everybody needs to have a chance of doing what they love really doing.
There are still special schools. There's still some of those examples of segregation, if you like.
The whole going to a special school or specialised school for people with disabilities is not the way to go.
It's sort of keeping students with disability out of the way.
People who just get pushed into a corner because they don't realise how much potential they have, and how smart they are, or creative or kind. And not only that, but "neurotypical" people are not having experience socialising with people with disabilities. So they're going to see them as other, or as different, or as separate, and not just as another person, or a friend, or a classmate, or a workmate.
I don't think it will ever happen until we get it right at a school setting where mainstream students are just so used to working alongside students with disabilities. And so, I think, for us to really be included in the workplace that needs to happen first, so that they grow up with it and then are more accepted later on in life.
And I think if we saw everyone's true ability, we'd be such more of an innovative nation you know.