In so many ways, this image speaks for itself.
But it also reminds me of the video "I am Brianna Couture". It's a video meant to open our eyes to the notion of invisible disabilities.
Let's engage in an exercise. Say (or think) the word "disability" and write the first five words that come to your mind (or draw what you think of, or say five words into a recording device...). Were your words physical traits, intellectual descriptions or social/emotional concepts? Do your words express limitations or gifts? Are their connotations positive or negative?
Watch the video:
Now repeat the exercise from above.
Did your words change? Is your thinking slightly different now that you have watched the video? I hope so. That was the point.
We make assumptions all the time without really learning someone's situation. We must strive to give the benefit of the doubt and seek to understand others and their situations without judgement.
Too often, when discussing inclusion in faith communities, I have heard: "We don't have any members (of our congregation) with disabilities, so we don't really need to think about inclusion." Really? There are NO members with disabilities? Watch the video again.
I would venture to guess that an unwillingness to consider inclusive practices keeps those members with disabilities away.
Our attitudes continue to be the greatest barrier to inclusive communities.
We don't "do inclusion" for our members. Rather, creating an inclusive community is about being ready. When we wait until someone comes through our doors, often it is too late and the accommodations become reactive. True inclusion is proactive. We should always be prepared to say, "welcome"; of course we can accommodate your needs.