Sally Richards is the mother of Jackson West, a young, Canberra-based entrepreneur with a disability, and I was lucky enough to have her as part a group of around 200 people at the We Are What We Do workshop organised by Disability ACT and BLITS last week in the Australian capital.
This audience are all involved in working for better inclusion of people with disability and were made up of campaigners, carers, practioners, teachers and some (very impressive) students.
Cause and effect within this inclusion work is complex and subtle, which made some of the ideas we’ve been working on very relevant – much more so than I realised when I was first offered the chance to run the workshops.
We spent a lot of the sessions discussing what forces within culture and society are incidentally inclusive for people with disability and which are incidentally detrimental to this inclusion.
An example that fell on both sides of the debate was the Paralympic Games, soon to be appearing in London just after the Olympic Games next year. This timing, as well as a series of other issues, were at the heart of the discussion about the Games’ overall effect, which, oddly enough, was elaborated upon by The Guardian just after our sessions, following research carried out by Scope which found that 42% of disabled people did not believe the Paralympics had a positive impact on public perceptions of disability.
Before this, Sally wrote to me with some thoughts which, we felt, couldn’t have summed up the debate, or our work, better.