Inclusion, in relation to persons with disabilities, is defined as including individuals with disabilities in everyday activities and ensuring they have access to resources and opportunities in ways that are similar to their non-disabled peers. Disability rights advocates define true inclusion as results-oriented, rather than focused merely on encouragement. To this end, communities, businesses, and other groups and organizations are considered inclusive if people with disabilities do not face barriers to participation and have equal access to opportunities and resources.
Common barriers to full social and economic inclusion of persons with disabilities include inaccessible physical environments and methods of public transportation, lack of assistive devices and technologies, non-adapted means of communication, gaps in service delivery. Discriminatory prejudice and stigma in society, and systems and policies that are either non-existent or that hinder the involvement of all people with a health condition in all areas of life.
Inclusion advocates argue that one of the key barriers to inclusion is ultimately the medical model of disability, which supposes that a disability inherently reduces the individual's quality of life and aims to use medical intervention to diminish or correct the disability. Interventions focus on physical and/or mental therapies, medications, surgeries, and assistive devices. Inclusion advocates, who generally adhere to the social model of disability, allege that this approach is wrong and that those who have physical, sensory, intellectual, and/or developmental impairments have better outcomes if, instead, it is not assumed that they have a lower quality of life and they are not looked at as though they need to be "fixed."
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