This past July, a global conference was held in London, England by University College London (UCL) to talk about the attitudes that people with intellectual disabilities are currently facing and efforts to change them.
The conference’s focus was developed using a review by UCL on the current state of affairs of the intellectually disabled. UCL utilized information from an online survey distributed by Inclusion International to generate the review. With almost 700 participants from 88 countries, survey responses of Inclusion International’s members were highly valuable in providing information to the review regarding global challenges and the efforts to raise awareness around the world.
Throughout the conference, presenters used a “problem followed by effort and solution” format which proved effective in providing a well-rounded perspective of intellectual disability issues. Outlined below are some of the main points used by the three different categories of presenters at the conference:
Self-advocates: Inclusion International Self-advocate Council member Sara Pickard spoke of the importance of self-advocacy and how the organization encourages self-advocates to speak out on their behalf to challenge negative attitudes and stereotypes. During her presentation, Pickard also showed a video that highlighted how their members can make a difference in society, change the image of people intellectual disabilities, and gain equal rights and more societal value through self-advocacy. The video was perfect for emphasizing the importance of the united and supportive voice that Inclusion International provides.
UK Presenters: The conference included presentations by various UK organizations that all provided unique perspectives on issues facing and efforts supporting people with intellectual disabilities. With some presenters speaking of the growing disability hate crime problem in the United Kingdom and the search for solutions to it, conference attendees were given an idea of the severity of the situation. However, other presenters spoke of positive efforts and strides being taken to limit discrimination by describing good inclusive practices for organizations. One presenter, the National Health Service, educated attendees about the positive impact of interns with intellectual disabilities on the attitudes of hospital staff.
International Presenters: A global conference would not be complete without an array of international speakers and the organizers of the event definitely took this into account. With speakers ranging from representatives of the United Nations and the Special Olympics, the international component of the conference provided audience members with problems and solutions from around the globe. An example of an effort to remove systematic discrimination against those with intellectual disabilities was the “Equal in Uniform” project in Israel which aims to allow people with disabilities to have the opportunity to serve in the Israeli army.
After considering the many different perspectives presented at the conference, one thing remains clear: people with disabilities are being discriminated against and more action needs to be taken on a global scale to stop this.
For more information on disability research at UCL, visit http://www.ucl.ac.uk/silva/lc-ccr
For the full article, visit http://inclusion-international.org/global-action-to-combat-negative-attitudes-to-intellectual-disability/
Image courtesy of https://www.ucl.ac.uk/disability/logos/UCL_Logo_BrightBlue.jpg