Integration and inclusion: Illusion or progress in services for disabled people?

Ruth Northway*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


This paper analyses the meanings of "integration" and "inclusion" in the context of disability services to determine the extent to which the latter signals a change in perspective rather than simply a change in terminology. It is argued that integration implies that disabled people need to be integrated into "mainstream" society and that it is they rather than society which is required to change. The policy response which results from this approach may thus be a technical one which focuses on physical integration alone. In contrast, inclusion takes as its starting-point the fact that a just state of affairs is one in which disabled people are included in society and hence the required policy response is a broad one which includes comprehensive civil rights legislation, an analysis of the effects of present and future policy on disabled people and the participation of disabled people in the democratic decision-making process. However, as disabled people are currently excluded from many aspects of society, the potential for an inclusive approach to be dismissed as being too idealistic is noted, and a number of possible barriers to its realization are discussed. It is concluded that whilst such barriers exist they should not, in themselves, provide a reason for inaction as an understanding of the implications of inclusion for policy and practice can provide a useful starting-point from which to bring about change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-172
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Policy and Administration
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Disability
  • Inclusion
  • Integration
  • Policy
  • Societal change


Dive into the research topics of 'Integration and inclusion: Illusion or progress in services for disabled people?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this