We all have our own definition of access and inclusion, and perhaps we are all, in our own way, working towards embracing this as a core principle in the work we do. But we often don’t consciously think about the one thing that binds us to this principle. Regulations.
Perhaps it is safe to say that regulation is one of the reasons that keep us close to achieving the vision of access and inclusion for all, whether it is in regard to disability, gender, education, culture and everything else that makes us unique. In the world we live in today, buildings are expected to be accessible, workplaces are expected to embrace gender diversity, education is expected to be inclusive and the list goes on. All of this is binded by a set of regulations that serve as the foundation for access and inclusion. But is regulation and compliance enough to help us shape a society where we can embrace unique perspectives and leverage that as a platform to create opportunities for ourselves and others?
I personally think regulation and compliance alone won’t help us achieve this vision, not without empathy and kindness. This shared vision is as much about regulation and compliance, as it is about how we, as humans, perceive the concept. While we can comply with regulations, it will never achieve the best results until inclusion is embedded within our culture. Until then, our compliance to regulations will always just be a matter of “ticking boxes” and meeting the minimum requirements. Talent will continue to be undiscovered because the beauty beyond is blinded by the misconception of seeing regulations as the only solution for access and inclusion.
As a young person living with a physical disability, I fight everyday for a society that is flexible enough to adapt and embrace all that makes us unique. Looking back at my journey of going through university and building a career as a User Experience Designer, I know for a fact that I could not have possibly come this far without the people around me. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by people who see beyond my disability, and that alone cannot be achieved if we were to only comply with regulations alone.
If we want to truly embrace access and inclusion for all, we need to go far beyond compliance.
A change in perception would enable us to recognise strength and potential in others, and to achieve this, we need empathy and kindness.
It’s about understanding the challenges we all face and discovering talent through a unique lens. It’s about creating opportunities for ourselves and others. More importantly, it’s about how we find that balance between kindness and compliance.
Perhaps when we reach the point where we can find that balance, regulations would become a secondary consideration, because it would naturally be embedded within our DNA to harness the power of access and inclusion.