Policy Market EP.4 : Differently-Abled
We at Chiang Mai University School of Public Policy (SPP) believe that societal diversity should be acknowledged, understood, and celebrated. We all can do our best to ensure that everyone can live to our highest potential. This is why SPP is helping policy-makers and others support the cultivation of equitable communities that have appreciation for social variety integrated into their socio-fabric.
An aspect of social inclusivity, or lack thereof, pertains to ‘disability.’ Being abled or less-abled is subjectively defined based on various benchmarks and cultural criterions. Many people carry sentiments that those with seemingly hampered physical or mental abilities are somehow “disabled,” less productive, and in-need of sympathy and charity. It is necessary that these status quo, marginalizing, narratives become reshaped. Fortunately, a new discourse-paradigm is emerging that accentuates how some folks are actually ‘differently-abled,’ while experiencing a human condition that can happen to any of us.
SPP, wholeheartedly supporting of this initiative, is advocating for improved understanding of differently-abled communities. We are particularly focusing on how universities play important functions in molding what society values and therefore how, or whether, those who are differently-abled are viewed and embraced. Thus, strengthening the role of higher education is imperative for supporting disability studies and therefore promoting diversity awareness. This, rather than teaching about disability, is about illuminating the culture of disablement and incorporating a
‘differently-abled’ paradigm into all socio-contexts and professions.
Advocating for differently-abled person’s opportunity to enroll in universities, so that he or she also may flourish, is a human rights matter. What is needed is the creation of inclusive living and learning environments that facilitate access to higher education and also a high quality life. This includes understanding people’s overall abilities, as well as ensuring access to necessary facilities that capacitate full mobility within these environments. Universal design of university campuses, for example, is a key element of uplifting higher education environments and therefore society at-large. This pertains also to urban space planning overall, including wheelchair-friendly public transport and walkways.
SPP, while being the regional center for deliberating this topic, is collaborating with local and international partners in pushing for inclusive, innovative, and progressive public policies that are raising awareness about, and increasing opportunities for, differently-abled people.
Key Rationale / Concept
- To create inclusive societies there is an urgent need to re-frame how many of us view disability. Traditional views focus on charity work and extra services and support. However, a new paradigm has emerged call ‘Differently Abled’ which focuses on the reality that being differently abled is a human condition that can happen to any of us at any time. In a way, we are all able and less able in different ways. Diversity among us is something to celebrate and cherish.
- To advocate for a better understanding of differently abled communities the role of higher education is vital. It is what is valued, role modeled, and taught in universities that will have lasting impact on graduates and societies at large. Thus, is it vital to strengthening the role of higher education in 1) promoting awareness of diversity by supporting ‘disability studies’ and 2) incorporating disability understanding in all professions.
- To create inclusive ecosystems and environment, there is a need to pay special attention to mobility, access to services, and holistic learning environment and pedagogical tools. Universal design of university campuses and services is a key element to uplift higher education environment for all. There will be showcases of Universal Design Centre, services for less abled students, educational exhibits, and experiencing public transportation.
- To accelerate the development of inclusive societies, technology and innovation are key factors to support access, entrepreneurship, and collaboration. Partners and key stakeholders will showcase and share experiences, technologies, and processes that can help celebrate diversity among us, reduce inequality, improve access and opportunities for all.
- Keynote speech
- Guest speakers
- Exhibition – Poster & Boots
- Experiencing platforms
- Network meeting
- Site visit (7 Dec 2018)