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Perspectives on diversity

In this video, various presenters discuss different perspectives on disability as a dimension of human diversity.

Throughout this week we have been exploring how important it is to value human diversity. In this step we look at different perspectives on diversity and how these perspectives can impact on people’s ability to live a good life.

First, Zoe Partington-Sollinger emphasises that valuing human diversity enriches her life and the lives of others. She talks about embracing different ways of doing things and explains that she doesn’t want to be “fixed”’ and doesn’t try to be “normal” because this is tiring work and is not particularly interesting to her.

Dr John Gilroy, a Koori man of the Yuin Nation, explains the diversity of the Australian Aboriginal population. He describes how in his community impairment is recognised as a part of human diversity and a part of everyday life. But he goes on to explain that the same impairment becomes a disability when someone from his community enters the wider Australian community, such as when his niece goes to school. What John describes here is a useful example of the social model of disability, where disability is so clearly created by the interaction between the individual and their social context.

Denise Beckwith talks about diversity among people with disabilities in relation to sexuality. She suggests that people with disabilities are rarely recognised as having diverse sexual identities, and she stresses the importance of balancing “duty of care” (or the obligation to ensure the safety of others) with “dignity of risk” (or the respect of individual autonomy and decision-making).

Talking points

  • Clearly, these guest speakers provide just a few examples of human diversity across cultures and among disabled people. What are some other forms of human diversity which have not been mentioned here?
  • What did you find particularly interesting from the speakers’ discussion?
  • Based on these stories, what are some of the ways in which particular social norms or attitudes might clash with the diverse goals, beliefs, values, identities, experiences, needs or desires of people with disabilities?

In the next step, we take a closer look at what it means to be “normal.”

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Disability and a Good Life: Working with Disability

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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