Inclusion vs. Insertion or Integration

On a post on disability acceptance, someone commented that insertion is not the same as inclusion. This means that putting disabled people in mainstream classrooms, in the community, etc., does not automatically lead to them being accepted into that comunity. In this sense, there are parallels to the racial and gender equality movement, but there are also differences. The parallel involves the fact that, just because for example African-Americans were finally legally allowed to sit in the front of the bus in the 1960s, doesn’t mean they weren’t bullied into the back anymore. The difference, which to soe extent applied to certain groups of ethnic minorities too, is the need for accommodations to be made to fully include disabled people.

There is another word that is frequently used in disability situations and which is commonly used for ethnic minorites: integration. Integration involves not just insertion, but the expectation on the part of the majority that the ethnic minority or disabled person adapt to the majority. In a sense, this is somewhat opposite to inclusion, where the majority makes reasonable accommodations for the minority. It is also contrary to acceptance, because, while the majority tolerate the minority once integrated, they won’t accept them the if they don’t meet up to the cultural norms of the majority.

I have often struggled with the social model of disability, because it to some extent ignores the fact that disable dpeople aren’t just as capable as everybody else – an argument used by the women’s and African-American civil rights movements to claim equal rights. With equal rights, after all, come equal responsibilities. To draw a parallel to ethnic minorities again, immigrants to the Netherlands are themselves responsible for making sure they learn Dutch civics and language. I do not personally agree with this, but it is reasonable from a conservative, small government perspective, which is currently holding the majority here. Is it unreasonable then to insist that a person with a disability put every effort into becoming as non-disabled as possible? My heart says it’s unreasonable, but my head is having a hard tiem finding arguments for it.

4 thoughts on “Inclusion vs. Insertion or Integration

  1. Great post, thank you! “Is it unreasonable then to insist that a person with a disability put every effort into becoming as non-disabled as possible?” Based on my personal/obviously subjective bias, I think it is unreasonable and, in fact, even harmful. I think the problem lies in the fact that when we insist disabled people take on the closest thing to a “normal” life they can achieve, we ALL stay trapped in that very narrow idea of what’s normal and okay. There is an underlying fear that we won’t always be enough to meet it, and after all, it’s a valid fear: we’re all inevitably going to age and become “disabled” by definition! Yet we fight this with every fibre of our being, and as a result, the fear of ageing is massive in our culture (at least it is here in Canada) because old = useless. There is an implied dichotomy of able/unable – with no room in between for the people who bring so much to the world in ways that can never be charted in money, success, possessions, or even recognized achievements. I believe that in the end, our essence as unique beings is what we contribute most to the world – not where we work or what we do. I know that my bed-confined grandmother and my mentally/physically-disabled sister bring more to my life and my own “productivity” with their smiles and love than they will ever know… xxxxx


  2. I dont think its unreasonable. I think it is our responsibility to become more inclusive and included in settings that dont serve our needs like colleges, etc. We do have a responsibility, but also reasonal accomodations should be made where possible if needed. Just my wo cents worth. Carol anne


  3. The version I heard is that “integration” has the minority and majority adapt to each other while “assimilation” has the minority try to completely resemble the majority.


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