The lived experience of being ‘disabled’ and from an ethnic minority background

Hi all,

It’s been a while. I have been incredibly busy trying to juggle a full time job and studying. The great news is that I officially have a postgraduate certificate in inclusive education & special educational needs. Yipee! 60 credits down, 120 to go. I’m excited to see what the future holds and work towards my Masters degree. I’ve got an exciting dissertation project brewing (stay tuned).

For me the journey is still very much at the beginning. I have only touched the surface of the issues relating to inclusive education for children with special educational needs and disability. Since my last post, I learnt a new term called “intersectionality” which considers the multiple power balances at play that influence or deepen inequality in our society. For example, race/ethnicity and disability.

In the UK, there is very little focus on the lived experience of minority groups with disability. Although born in the UK, I strongly identify with my Nigerian heritage and love Nigerian food. I’m also married to someone from mixed Caribbean heritage. I don’t know about you but it’s hard enough for me to navigate the shops and my impairment is no where near as significant as it used to be. Have you ever considered how difficult it is for a person from an ethnic minority with a disability to access their local supermarket which sells all the ingredients they need to make a traditional meal from their cultural heritage?

Halal butchers, busy high streets and customers impatiently competing for the retailer’s attention. That is a lived reality that we sometimes forget. It’s probably easier for the individual with a disability to ask someone to go to the shop for them but that takes all the fun and independence out of shopping for yourself. Others may choose to avoid those meals but is that fair? We all have our favourites. The world food isle at the bigger supermarkets does not sell everything you need despite it being more accessible (sometimes). These are a few of the challenges that children and young people with disabilities in our society will grow up to encounter unless we think about ways to make things more accessible. It starts with mindset.

How do you play your part to make sure the people you interact with feel included? It’s not intended to be a dig as we’re all guilty of not considering the impact of our decisions on others. This post is designed to be reflective and challenge our thinking.

Picture courtesy of James Fitzgerald on Londonist

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