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Solving Organizational Barriers to Inclusion Using Education, Creativity, and Teamwork

By Linda A. Heyne

Barriers to Inclusion

At Ithaca College, I teach a course on inclusive community leisure services in which we devote one full week to a discussion of potential organizational barriers to inclusion and how to overcome them. I begin the lesson by informing the class that barriers to inclusion tend to fall in one of four categories: attitudinal, administrative, architectural, and programmatic. I then ask the students to work in small groups to enumerate all the potential obstacles to inclusion they can imagine. Together, we generate long lists of possible barriers. What follows are the most prevalent ones found in agencies:

Creative Solutions

After my students identify potential barriers to inclusion, I again ask them to work in small groups to brainstorm potential solutions. These young adults preparing for careers in leisure services and therapeutic recreation prove time and time again their creativity in generating fresh solutions to problems that have impeded the progress of inclusion for decades. Below are some of their ideas in relation to the four categories of barriers:

How Agencies Can Support Inclusion

The positive results of this group work, and my own experience as an inclusion facilitator and researcher, give credibility to the idea that agency personnel can apply a similar problem-solving approach to the removal of inclusion barriers. With this in mind, I propose a five-step approach that agencies can take to support inclusion:


The effort devoted to the removal of organizational barriers will be rewarded many times over as people work together to support inclusion. People with varying abilities will gain opportunities to live to their fullest potential, and each member of the community will find a greater sense of understanding, value, and belonging.

Linda A. Heyne is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Therapeutic Recreation and Leisure Studies, Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York. She may be reached at 607/274-3050 or


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Citation: Gaylord, V., Lieberman, L., Abery, B. & Lais, G. (Eds.). (2003). Impact: Feature Issue on Social Inclusion Through Recreation for Persons with Disabilities, 16(2) Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration. Available from


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