Take Action For Inclusion
After reading the article or watching “Including Samuel”, you may want to learn more, get involved or take action.
Through his work at the UNH Institute on Disability, documentary filmmaker Dan Habib has compiled a wealth of ideas below: steps that youth, parents, educators, administrators, and policy makers and can take to support inclusion and disability rights.
In Your School:
- Provide examples of the benefits of inclusion for the entire school community.
- Download a compilation of research that demonstrates the educational value of inclusion. Find it in the Resource Section of the Including Samuel website.
- Make sure any curriculum or events about diversity include disability.
- Donate a copy of Including Samuel to your school and ask that it be shown to the staff, the PTO and/or students. Help organize a facilitated, post-film discussion (download the host a screening kit here).
- Demand that schools provide access to the full range of extracurricular and social activities, and that all children have the supports they need for full membership, participation and learning.
- Lobby your school district to equip or purchase regular buses with wheelchair lift.
- Work with your PTO, district and neighborhood group to replace inaccessible playground with accessible design. Become involved in the planning/fundraising process.
- Parents: Don’t apologize for advocating for yourself or your child. A parent once said, “I only get one chance at getting my child a quality education and I’m not going to blow it.”
- Youth: work to start a disability-rights group in your school.
In Your Community:
- Go to a school board meeting — Describe the positive results you see at school, home and in the community because of successful inclusion efforts at school.
- Work with local businesses, community buildings and places of worship to improve the accessibility of the facility and materials.
- Ask your town recreation department about their inclusive practices and/or accessibility.
- Work with your town Master Plan Committee to have universal design,visibility, and aging-in-place concepts included in the town’s vision plan.
- Contact congressmen, senators, selectmen, and local and federal transportation authorities to make sure your town or city’s public transportation system is fully accessible.
- Challenge educators and community leaders to use people-first language and avoid outdated words like wheelchair bound, retarded and normal people.
- When hosting play dates or a birthday party, ask about accessibility and dietary needs of invited children.
- Start or become involved in a town Disability Access Commission.
- Educate town employees, selectmen, and town meeting members about disability issues.
- Reach out to other groups in your community and partner with them on meetings, letters to the editors, events, etc. Co-host a public informational night on inclusion with a keynote speaker.
In The Government:
- Learn about IDEA, the ADA, and other disability related policies. Remind people about relevant aspects to these laws (like least restrictive environment with the proper supports).
- Call or email your local representative about pending or potential legislation that will impact inclusive education or disability rights.
In The Media:
- Contact the local media about stories in your community that highlight successful inclusion.
- When a reporter uses language that you feel contains prejudice or is not people first write them an email, or a letter to the editor. Similarly, congratulate reporters with a letter to the editor for particularly well-done stories.
- Be persistent! Know that not every story you submit will get covered. Use the community pages, calendars and letters to the editor pages to get the word out about local events and initiatives.
In The Movement:
- Download and share interesting articles on inclusion and disability rights.
- Join the Including Samuel Facebook group and join a vibrant discussion about the benefits and challenges of inclusion.
- Attend a conference held by a group committed to inclusion, like TASH or Kids Included Together (KIT).
- Party!! One NH group held a barn-side screening of “Including Samuel.” If you go to a conference or event related to inclusion and no one else from your community is there, throw a party to go over what you learned.
- Be a positive role model, mentor, and optimistic leader. Use creative problem solving to support inclusion.