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Disability inclusion is the action of including people with disabilities into everyday activities. It is achieved through practices and polices that identify and remove barriers to full participation in society.

“Normal” people construct society which consists of social behaviors, rules/laws, cultural practices, etc.. Everyone starts out as a part of society then based on social constructs some people are excluded. Therefore, inclusion is a way to include people who have been excluded from society. People do not think about whether to include or exclude “normal” people. So, why do we have to include or exclude people with disabilities?

Exclusion and inclusion is a social construct that some people are not a part of society. People are excluded from society based on social perceptions and attitudes towards certain people. People with disabilities are excluded from society because they are seen as less than, undesirable, etc.. Inclusion is necessary to counteract the poor perceptions and attitudes towards disabled people. The physical acts of exclusion and inclusion (i.e. work discrimination, mainstreaming) are based on the social construct of inclusion and exclusion. The physical acts of inclusion are used to counteract the physical acts of exclusion.

We all live on this planet together. Everyone is a part of society. Any act of inclusion and exclusion is based on social constructs stemming from perceptions and attitudes towards certain people.

Laura MacKenzie loves to learn about the world around her. She adores animals and has a dog and cat. She is always observing, thinking, and analyzing. Her goal is to become a police consultant/instructor on community relations and disability. Laura is enrolled in the Advanced Certificate in Disability Studies here at CUNY SPS.

Maggie Keenan-Bolger (SPS ’10) and Rachel Sullivan (SPS ’10) are co-creators of The Birds and The Bees Unabridged, an original devised theater piece about female sexuality accompanied by a pre/post show art exhibit. Bringing together a diverse ensemble of 25 people, and over 15 visual artists, The Birds and The Bees…Unabridged uses theater and visual art to challenge the status quo and spark much needed conversations about women and trans sexuality.The Birds and The Bees...Unabridged

For years, many women have not had the time or place to discuss and define their own notions of sexuality or to challenge current definitions. Using the experiences, ideas and opinions of the individuals in the ensemble, and the 2000+ people who participated in a nationwide survey, The Birds and The Bees Unabridged tackles issues of sex education, partner communication, the sexual body, sexual health, identity, and how sexuality changes over one’s lifespan. This project examines real opinions and stories…because the gentle explanation of the bees pollinating flowers will only go so far.

The Birds and The Bees Unabridged was developed through the process of devising as learned in the MA in Applied Theatre Program at SPS.

School of Professional Studies Students/Alums involved in the project include: Directors: Maggie Keenan Bolger (’10) and Rachel Sullivan (’10) Performers: Meggan Dodd (“11), Chelsea Hackett (’14), Carrie Ellman-Larsen (’11), Jess Levy (’11), Ernell McClennon (’10), Suzu McConnell-Wood (’11), Heather Nielsen (’12), and Liz Parker (’11).

Showtimes and Details:
Wednesday, March 27, 8pm
Thursday, March 28, 8pm
Friday, March 29, 8pm
Saturday, March 30, 2pm and 8pm
Speyer Hall at University Settlement: 184 Eldridge St. New York, NY
Tickets: Sliding Scale $10/$15/$25, based on what you can give
For tickets and information, visit www.thebirdsandthebeesunabridged.com

In February I started my Masters in Disability Studies in SPS. Unlike most of the other programs it’s not as heavily based on the web. All the classes meet in either the Graduate Center or the CUNY Central building. I will disclose that I am a person with a disability at the beginning because it’s relevant to my blog as well as who I am as a person. I was born in Egypt and I started losing my vision at the age of four. I’m also a straight male of the middle class. So that makes me not one of all these qualities, but all at once. I’m a person first, and then I am Egyptian, blind, straight, male, and a middle class member. I’m also an aspiring musician, writer, student and the list goes on. What I’m getting at is that as a person I cannot be defined by one quality. Instead, I am at the point where all these different attributes intersect. And that’s what I learned in my Disability and Diversity class. Each individual person is made up of a complex mixture of characteristics and it doesn’t do them justice to define them as simply “African American,” “queer,” or “disabled.”

This leads me to my next point. Before I started the Disability Studies program I wasn’t really sure who I was. I was definitely sure that I was blind, but I didn’t really identify with any of my other qualities. The more I learned, the more I realized that I wasn’t just a part of the blind community. I’m also a part of the disability community. I wasn’t just a New Yorker. I’m an American. I’m not just Egyptian. I’m Arabic. My studies helped me realize that I was a part of all these bigger communities. This resulted in me understanding myself better and forming a more wholesome identity. It has also improved my ability to relate to others. Because of that, I’ve made a lot of close friendships since I’ve started my graduate degree.

Throughout this semester I will show you the world through “my eyes.” I’ll talk about what it means to be a blind student. Which is mainly the same as being a sighted student. The main difference is that I have to always make sure that I get my books and readings in an accessible format so that I can read them. I’ll talk about exploring my identity as an Egyptian and an Arab. I’m sure there’s more to it than smoking hookah and getting free Halal food. And I’ll also share my insights about the other facets of my identity.

Walei is pursuing a masters in Disability Studies in the School of Professional Studies. He has blogged for the Accessible New York project in the past and continues to do so. Walei is also an aspiring writer, musician, and advocate for people with disabilities.