Imagine you are in a conversation with a six-year old child who is differently abled. The child could be facing life with a physical challenge or born with different cognitive abilities, however, truly, who has the heart to tell a 6-year old that they are “disabled”? Even though it is a standard international term, it holds a negative connotation to it.
When I began my career in inclusion in October 2018, working as a Project Manager at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi, I met a Zumba instructor with Down Syndrome, a consultant who was differently abled with a rare skin condition and even interns who utilized a wheelchair for mobility purposes. However, my journey with the movement of inclusion actually began at home – with my brother, Ahmed Qadeer, who is also uniquely abled as he faces life with Spinal Bifida.
Growing up with Ahmed, I realized that at home, we never let his different abilities become an obstacle. Since we did not have a disabled approach when dealing with everyday situations, Ahmed was included in most of our activities at ease. Thus, to me, the word “disability” represents mindsets that have not yet found solutions to cope with all the unique abilities in the world.
Currently, as we build Inclusive as a platform and embark on this wonderful journey to build accessible online and offline spaces, I often meet people from all walks of life who struggle to find words other than disability in their sentences. At Inclusive, we want to spark the conversation that minimizes the use of the word “disability” all together, so we encourage you to speak your heart out, and share words with a more positive connotation. Under the UAE National Policy for Empowering People with Different abilities, the term ‘People of Determination‘ is used to recognize their achievements in different fields. At Inclusive, we believe this is a great initiative from the UAE government to create a positive conversation about inclusion.
When addressing 15% of the world population, 1 in 7 of all of us, I am sure that through collective effort, we can minimize the use of the word disabled.
Hafsa Qadeer, Founder at Inclusive