In the United States, 61 million individuals, or almost one in four people, have a disability. However, people with disabilities find themselves excluded from social interactions, community involvement, leisure pursuits, and employment.
Community integration refers to integrating and embracing people with disabilities into the greater community. When people with disabilities are integrated into the community, they are able to participate in life to the same extent as people without disabilities. This participation can take place in a range of contexts, such as neighborhoods, congregations, schools, workplaces, and others.
What does community integration include
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People with disabilities, regardless of age, should be fully aware of the variety of support and services that are available to them when it comes to community integration.
For community integration to be a long-term success, people with disabilities must have equal access to the following:
- Peer support
- Recreation and leisure activities
- Citizenship and civic engagement
- Valued social roles (marriage, parenting, etc.)
Note: Integration into the community must happen throughout a person’s life and be suited to their interests and stage of life.
What are the benefits of community integration
There are many advantages of an integrated community for both individuals with disabilities and the wider community. Here are a few:
Benefits of community integration for individuals with disabilities
- Increased independence: Being able to participate in activities and events in the community can help individuals with disabilities develop their skills and increase their independence.
- Greater social interaction: Community integration provides opportunities for individuals with disabilities to interact with a wide range of people and form meaningful social connections.
- Improved quality of life: Being able to participate in activities and events that are meaningful and enjoyable can improve the overall quality of life for individuals with disabilities.
- Increased access to services and resources: Community integration can help individuals with disabilities access services and resources that may not be available within a segregated setting.
Benefits of community integration for the wider community
- Greater understanding and acceptance: Community integration can help reduce stereotypes and prejudices about individuals with disabilities, leading to greater understanding and acceptance within the community.
- Stronger social ties: Community integration can strengthen social ties within the community, leading to a sense of belonging and increased social cohesion.
- Improved accessibility: Making communities more inclusive and accessible for individuals with disabilities can benefit everyone, including people with temporary disabilities or those who may need accommodations due to aging.
- Economic benefits: Community integration can also have economic benefits, such as increased employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities and increased spending within the community.
Community integration is not limited to people with disabilities. People can benefit from community integration even if a member does not require specialized medical care. For example, people can develop more diversified interactions, comprehend adaptive lifestyles, and enable more inclusive chances. So, it can be easily said that community integration helps everyone.
However, finding such integrated real estate that promotes community integration is challenging.
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