The Power of Social Media

Early in our history of using social media, we posted a photo that highlighted the differences between inclusion, exclusion, segregation, and integration. It kinda blew up for us:

Various Interpretations

To this day, we are not sure who created the original image. While we are happy that this received so much attention, part of the reason why it was shared so much was that the image meant a different thing to different people. Some people thought that the pictures of inclusion and integration were backward. Some thought that the different colors signified different races. Still, others amended and changed the photo to fit their interpretations (some humorous, some serious). Here are some examples.   Image Description: Three circles with many colored dots intertwined as “Borromean rings” with the word inclusion at the bottom. “Borromean rings consist of three topological circles which are linked and form a Brunnian link (i.e., removing any ring results in two unlinked rings). In other words, no two of the three rings are linked with each other as a Hopf link, but nonetheless, all three are linked.” – Wikipedia Image Description: This image was changed by switching the labels of integration and inclusion. Image Description: This image is of a circle with many colored dots where there are two more circles inside with other colored dots. In addition, there is a circle that is seperare from the larger circle that also has many colored dots. The label underneath reads “reality, most places”. Image Description: This image was changed by adding a circle called “assimilation” where all the dots are the same color. Image Description: This image was changed by adding a circle called “insurrection” where it is on fire. Image Description: A large circle where there are two dots labeled “me” and “my girl” as well as many brown rectangles labeled “all the chocolate”. Outside the circle there is one smaller circle with many colored dots with the words “everyone else” and an arrow pointing to the circle. Image Description: This image is of a single circle with the same color dots with the label “delusion”. Image Description: This image is similar to the original image except for the label “under siege last stand” instead of “exclusion” and “neighbors” instead of “segregation”. Image Description: In this image, the graphics and labels have been changed. The first graphic is called “pursue inclusion” (a circle with multi-colored dots). The second graphic is called “avoidance exclusion” (a circle with green dots and a few yellow dots as well as a small circle protruding containing red dots). The third graphic is called “seperate segregation” (a circle that has been segmented into four parts where one is the biggest contained all green dots and the other ones red/blue/yellow). The final graphic is called “tolerate integration” (a circle filled with green dots with another circle inside containing multi-colored dots).

Guidance from the United Nations

So, what are the correct definitions of these images? Fortunately, we came across an astonishing visual from a document called A Summary of the Evidence on Inclusive Education created by Abt Associates. They envisioned the original image in a much clearer way and included definitions from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – General Comment No. 4. We have added the image here and encourage you to read both documents referenced above.

The Committee highlights the importance of recognising the differences between exclusion, segregation, integration and inclusion. Exclusion occurs when students are directly or indirectly prevented from or denied access to education in any form. Segregation occurs when the education of students with disabilities is provided in separate environments designed or used to respond to a particular or various impairments, in isolation from students without disabilities. Integration is a process of placing persons with disabilities in existing mainstream educational institutions, as long as the former can adjust to the standardized requirements of such institutions. Inclusion involves a process of systemic reform embodying changes and modifications in content, teaching methods, approaches, structures and strategies in education to overcome barriers with a vision serving to provide all students of the relevant age range with an equitable and participatory learning experience and environment that best corresponds to their requirements and preferences. Placing students with disabilities within mainstream classes without accompanying structural changes to, for example, organisation, curriculum and teaching and learning strategies, does not constitute inclusion. Furthermore, integration does not automatically guarantee the transition from segregation to inclusion.

According to the UN’s definitions, most of school districts in the United States are practicing integration rather than the “systematic reform” and “structural changes” that inclusion encompasses. It is no wonder that people are confused when talking about the differences between inclusion and integration.

What do you think? Do you have different interpretations of inclusion, exclusion, segregation, and integration? Share them with us in the comments sections below!