IASSIDD’s 2018 European congress was marked by Celebrating Differences. Although a hopeful and celebratory theme, one of the congress’ main goals has been to cast a critical eye on those areas in society that need improvement. In light of current worldwide developments, the current theme explicitly refers to the changes we need to see.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a disruptive force, a crisis that at the same time accelerates and reveals the effects of exclusionary (neoliberal) societal structures. The Black Lives Matter movement is further disrupting the status quo by fiercely protesting the racism that has been at the root of many injustices around the colonized world for so long. The pandemic, BLM and disability rights all intersect at various crucial points, including police violence, the exclusion from important healthcare practices and resources, and the overall violation of human rights. In order to tackle such issues at their core, it has to be recognized that we need to Value Diversity. There is value to humankind in finally embracing what has been undervalued in the past: to value diversity means to move forward on the path towards social inclusion for people with disabilities and towards equality for all. This matter needs to be seriously considered through scientific study and information sharing, through debate on how social structures exclude people with intellectual and developmental disabilities from participating in society.
We need to value diversity in political and media representation to include perspectives and in- and output from all walks of life. We need to value diversity in healthcare policies to create specialised treatments and fair prioritisation, and to raise awareness of the reciprocity of relationships between people with disabilities and their families/caregivers, who rely on each other’s proximity for their well-being. We need to value diversity in designing a “New Normal” in which nobody will be left behind, and in which the rights and privileges of one group will not impede those of another.