This is an excerpt from Inclusive Leisure With HKPropel Access by Mary Ann Devine & Lynn Anderson.
By Lynn Anderson
The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect of our core dimensions or variations, including ability level. It means understanding that each individual is unique and recognizing our individual differences. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, spiritual beliefs, and, of course, ability. A tool to help us understand the ways human beings vary and are diverse in our core characteristics is the diversity wheel (see figure 6.1).
The diversity wheel was developed by Loden (1996) and has been adapted and applied in our field often (Anderson et al., 2015; Schneider and Kivel, 2016). Note that there are two sections: primary dimensions of diversity and secondary dimensions of diversity. The primary dimensions are considered particularly influential in determining your values, self-image and identity, opportunities, and thoughts and perceptions about others. These dimensions or characteristics are the ones that are most fixed; you are least likely to change in these areas. The secondary dimensions are in the outer circle. These characteristics are also part of your social identity, but they can change as your life experiences affect you. In other words, these dimensions are less stable or fixed in our lives and our identities but still a part of who we are.
The secondary dimensions interact with the core dimensions but are more variable over one’s life. The core dimensions are powerful reflections of our identity and, in part, determine how we were socialized and how we think about ourselves. In other words, the core dimensions form a stronger basis of our social identity than the secondary dimensions. They influence what we believe, what we expect, and even what opportunities we may have. The core dimensions are the characteristics or identities that most affect our ability to experience inclusive recreation. According to Schneider and Kivel (2016, p. 5), historical and scientific evidence indicates that the core dimensions “are often intertwined with issues of prejudice, power, and discrimination.” As you can see, included in the core dimensions is ability level; disability is a natural part of diversity. Additionally, like other dimensions of diversity, ability is not categorical but occurs on a continuum. We can be more or less physically able or socially able, for example. However, disability has historically been defined from a more categorical or medical perspective.