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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI)

Key Terms

Neurodiversity is an approach to learning and disability that suggests that diverse neurological conditions appear as a result of normal variations in the human genome. This term originated in the late 1990s as a challenge to prevailing views by asserting that neurological differences should be recognized and respected as a social category on a par with gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability status.

From: Diversity and Inclusion Resources, (2022). Neurodiversity.,variations%20in%20the%20human%20genome.


A person with disability is someone who:

  • Has a significant and persistent mobility, sensory, learning, or other physical or mental health impairment, which may be permanent or temporary;
  • Experiences functional restrictions or limitations of their ability to perform the range of life’s activities; and/or
  • May experience attitudinal and/or environmental barriers that hamper their full and self-directed participation in life.

From: WHO. (2022). Disability.

Able-ism is a form of discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities (mental, emotional, and/or physical). Able-ism maintains an assumption that people with physical and/or mental disabilities are not normal individuals. Examples of able-ism include inaccessible public buildings, inflexible height of tables and counters, unusable transportation systems, and segregated education. 

From: Thompson, Sherwood. "Able-ism." In Encyclopedia of Diversity and Social Justice, edited by Sherwood Thompson. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2014.

Universal Design is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood, and used by all people, regardless of their age, size, ability, or disability. An environment (or any building, product, or service in that environment) should be designed to meet the needs of all people who wish to use it. Universal design constitutes the equitable access to spaces, objects, environments, and services.

From: CIO: Council Operations. (2018). Universal design - What is it?

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