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Intersectionality: Re-think your pre-think

accessibility-standards-of-employmentThroughout the past year or so, I have been writing with the intent of helping organizations unseat possible assumptions about people with disabilities. As a consultant, I regularly work in a system that is not reflexive of how negative perceptions might alienate people and create barriers for others. This thought process acts to atrophy critical thought at a time when it is absolutely necessary to be able think outside the box. A prominent feature in my past articles has been the ideological vehicles of accommodation, accessibility and inclusion within the work space but the concepts should not be limited to disability as they apply to all Human Rights Code grounds.

Current social action that is taking place in order to attract attention to systematically oppressed peoples have taken a mind altering approach by raising the voice of those whose identities are considered to be intersectional. The concept of intersectionality is housed within the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s interpretation of how people might experience identities under multiple code grounds, but in reality the fact that people can consider themselves part of multiple and intersecting identities falls on white and able ears (meaning that discourse on the subject is buffered and problematized by dominant and normative paradigms).

What this means for the landscape of work, employment is the same as what is being requested of all of us in terms of equal participation in the public sphere. We need to take a step back and reassess our assumptions that preclude those who are marginalized. We need to get a sense of how we can think inclusively while building roads to view human diversity as more than a product of a singular association or identity. The concepts of accommodation, accessibility and inclusion that an organization uses have to be robust enough to pay respect to the fact that people are a system of identities that continuously flow and change.

This is an exciting time for people who inhabit geographies and personhoods that are inherently privileged, including me. This is the time to broaden interpretations of what is meant by accommodation, accessibility and inclusion to naturally allow for intersectional identities. To end this brief article, I would suggest that we confront the uncomfortable reality that many of us still inhabit a narrative  that works to the exclusion of difference so that social systems of thought can have time to regain focus on community.

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Christopher Lytle MA CDS

Principle Consultant and Owner at Christopher Lytle Consulting (CLC)
Christopher Lytle MA CDS, is the principle consultant and owner of Christopher Lytle Consulting (CLC). CLC consults on human rights and helps organizations incorporate requirements for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Christopher has been involved with disability and human rights issues for ten years. During this time he has participated in the drafting of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and has been involved in its subsequent promotion and implementation in Canada as well as several countries in Africa, Central America, Asia and Europe. He has held a seat on the board of directors for the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) as a representative of theCouncil of Canadians with Disabilities' (CCD) International Human Rights Committee and hehas spearheaded numerous capacity building projects with the purpose of promoting human rights, equality and accessibility. Read more
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