Different Just Like You

Different. Just like you: A psychosocial approach promoting the inclusion of persons with disabilities

Over one billion people in the world live with disability. Despite international conventions providing for equal rights and access to services and opportunities, persons with disabilities face considerable challenges. The greatest barriers to inclusion are caused by society: Inaccessible buildings mean, for example, that children with disabilities may not be able to go to school. Negative attitudes towards differences can take the form of discrimination and stigma. Structural barriers too, such as policies that do not include any provision for young adults with disabilities accessing higher education, can close down opportunities.

‘Different. Just like you: A psychosocial approach promoting the inclusion of persons with disabilities’ is aimed at professionals and volunteers who work with persons with disabilities. The concept of empowerment is central to the whole approach presented in this handbook. Empowerment is defined as a process of strengthening, whereby individuals, organizations and communities ‘get a grip’ of their own situations and surroundings. They do so by acquiring control, sharpening their critical awareness and seeking to participate. Persons with disabilities are not seen as helpless victims, but are recognized for both their vulnerable and resourceful sides. The focus of empowerment is therefore on health, wellbeing, power and environmental influences, and not on problems, risk factors and the individualisation of problems.

The handbook provides practical guidance in planning and implementing activities, as well as background material on key concepts and the legal framework in relation to psychosocial support and inclusion. Real-life stories and examples of programmes in the field are included, to share knowledge and learning. The activities range from psychosocial activities that are accessible to all (chapter 3) to physical activities that are adapted to include persons with disabilities (chapter 5). Detailed information is given for all the activities in chapter 5 to enable professionals or volunteers with little or no experience in working with persons with disabilities to consider planning and implementing psychosocial programmes.

Four different organizations, specialists in their fields, have come together to share and learn from each other, and the result is this handbook. They are: The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Reference Centre for Psychosocial Support, the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education, LICHT FÜR DIE WELT/ Light for the World and Juul Journalistik & Kommunikation. It is their hope that ‘Different. Just like you: A psychosocial approach promoting the inclusion of persons with disabilities’ will be a valuable tool in promoting the inclusion and psychosocial well-being of persons with disabilities.