Skip main navigation

Reflecting on diversity and a good life

In this video, various people who work with disability describe their ideas of what it means to live a good life.

Now that we’ve talked a little bit about living a good life, and about diversity, inclusion, and belonging, let’s bring these different ideas together.

In the above video, various people who work in the area of disability provide their views on a good life.

One dominant theme from the video is the idea of freedom, choice and control — that a good life is an individual concept, and that this is no different for people with disabilities than it is for anyone else. Thinking about a good life in this way prompts us to ask questions about the various mechanisms through which diverse people can be enabled to craft their own good lives.

For all of the people in the video, connectedness to the wider human community is also a key element of a good life. This idea links quite strongly to the notions of human diversity and belonging that we introduced this week and suggests that embracing diversity and promoting inclusion and belonging are all important mechanisms for enabling a good life.

What have we learned this week?

In this first week, we began by framing disability as a dimension of human diversity. We highlighted the centrality of social inclusion in disability rights movements since the mid-20th century, where people with disabilities have fought against a long history of exclusion and segregation from mainstream society. But we also suggested that the concept of inclusion is itself limiting, and is only one step along a long journey.

We heard from a variety of people with disabilities about what it means to be included, and to belong, and we suggested that the term belonging may be a more useful way to think about the relationship of individuals with disabilities to wider communities.

Diversity, inclusion and belonging were also central themes in our discussions of a good life. Thinking critically about a good life requires an engagement with very diverse bodies, minds, perceptions and experiences. We can’t assume that there is a “normal” good life. In this sense, valuing a good life for everyone is one important way to challenge normative and/or “ableist” ways of organising society than can have disabling and exclusionary effects for people with a range of impairments.

This week we looked at the valuing of diversity and the promotion of inclusion and belonging as one means of enabling a good life. In upcoming weeks, we will look at other mechanisms for enabling a good life — such as applying human rights frameworks, promoting access, providing care and support, recognising diverse forms of contribution, and advocating for change.

Next week we will focus on the usefulness of human rights frameworks.

Talking points

  • Have your ideas about living a good life changed over the week?
  • Have your ideas about disability changed over the week?
  • What are you looking forward to exploring further?

In the next step, you can take a quiz to evaluate your understanding of the topics covered in Week 1. Then, you will have the opportunity to reflect on your learning goals.

This article is from the free online

Disability and a Good Life: Working with Disability

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now