In her novel, “Small Great Things,” author Jodi Picoult addressed the difference between equality and equity. As one of the author’s character explained it: “Equality is treating everyone the same. But equity is taking differences into account, so everyone has a chance to succeed.” She goes on to say that the former seems fair, while the latter is fair. 

It’s a concept that recently has seen a resurgence in interest and one closely tied to the greater issue of community inclusion for people with disabilities. 

That said, “community inclusion” is a bit of a misnomer, as individuals with disabilities already are a part of the community. All too often, however, neither they nor the community are reaping all the potential benefits of that interaction. Remedying this situation is not an easy task, as it requires identification and removal of barriers and changes in how we, as a people, think and design our world. 

Equity Equality Graphic

From the Inclusion Solution

This cartoon was circulated on the Internet in the past and shows three people of different heights attempting to peer over a fence to see a baseball game. In the first panel, all are standing on similar-sized crates (equality), but only the two tallest can see over the obstruction. In the second panel, a crate has been added to elevate the other person to where he can enjoy the game, as well (equity). In this version, a third panel shows a chain-link fence through which all can see. 

You get the picture. 

Success will require creative thinking, an understanding of individuals as the individuals they are and acknowledgement of any changes required to assure people with disabilities are living the lives they choose – and their best lives – in their communities, both contributing and reaping the rewards of that contribution. 

Today, we look forward to helping those on the front lines of true community inclusion to push boundaries as never before, with the educational tools and training they need to do their best work. 

That’s our role to play and it is our privilege to play it. Learn more about our Community Inclusion curriculum.