Inclusion: What is it and what research and resources are available?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the inclusion “of people with disabilities into everyday activities involves practices and policies designed to identify and remove barriers, such as physical, communication, and attitudinal, that hamper individuals’ ability to have full participation in society, the same as people without disabilities.” Inclusion involves nondiscrimination, universal design, reasonable accommodations, eliminating stigma and stereotypes, and receiving input from people with disabilities. 


NIDILRR has funded many projects that focused on inclusion across disabilities and in many facets of life. NARIC’s information specialists searched the NIDILRR Program Database and found over 100 current and past NIDILRR-funded projects whose activities touched on this area. Here is just a sample:

NARIC’s information specialists also searched NARIC’s collection through the REHABDATA database to see what has been published by the NIDILRR community and others on inclusion. Their first search produced more than 2000 articles on inclusion, including international research. Narrowing the search to inclusion and education resulted in more than 1600 articles on the topic. NARIC’s information specialists also found over 500 articles on inclusion and employment. Below is a sample of the articles found in NARIC’s collection on inclusion:

  • The article, Universal architectural design and people with disabilities, discusses the concept of universal architectural design and its impact for people with disabilities and how universal design in the built environment benefits everyone – people with and without disabilities, older adults, women and men, and so on. This article is also available in Spanish.
  • The article, Exploring clothing as a barrier to workplace participation faced by people living with disabilities, discusses a study that explored how the barriers to social participation faced by people with a disability are increased by the lack of appropriate clothing and the role that stigma, self-efficacy, and clothing have in workplace participation. The study found that workplace participation for people with disabilities is impeded because of occupational typecasting and lack of appropriate clothing, which then increase their stigma and decreases their self-efficacy.


Many resources on inclusion and related topics are available from the NIDILRR community and beyond for people with disabilities, their families, and professionals. NARIC’s information specialists have put together a short list of inclusion resources:

Policy and Legislation:

  • The NIDILRR-funded ADA National Network provides information, guidance and training on how to implement the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to “assure equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities.” The ADA National Network is made up of 10 regional ADA Centers that provide local assistance and foster implementation of the ADA by private and public entities.

Reasonable Accommodation in Employment:

  • The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) provides free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues,  the ADA and related legislation, and self-employment and entrepreneurship options for people with disabilities. JAN assists people with disabilities in enhancing their employability and shows employers how to capitalize on the value and talent that people with disabilities add to the workplace. JAN also provides answers to frequently asked questions in Spanish.


  • Think College is a national organization dedicated to developing, expanding, and improving inclusive higher education options for people with intellectual disabilities. Think College supports evidence-based and student-centered research and practice by generating and sharing knowledge, guiding institutional change, informing public policy, and engaging with students, families, and professionals. Think College provides family resources, technical assistance, training, and resources that include a library, information on finding a college program that supports students with intellectual disabilities, and more.

Assistive Technology:

Independent Living:

Community Inclusion:

  • The Institute of Community Inclusion (ICI) works with service providers, policymakers, educators, advocacy and self-advocacy organizations, researchers, families, and people with disabilities around the world to provide state-of-the-art information and practices that support the community inclusion of people with disabilities. While they do not provide direct services or advocacy, they may be able to direct you to resources in your community that can.

This is just a small amount of the research and resources available from the NIDILRR community and beyond. If you would like to learn more, please contact NARIC by email, chat, or by calling 800/346-2742.