Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Editorial | Open Access

Disability and Social Inclusion: Lessons From the Pandemic

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Abstract:  The coronavirus pandemic necessitated rapid, radical changes to global systems, structures, and organisations across all areas of life, including education, healthcare, and social services. These changes were something of a double‐edged sword. On the one hand, widespread adoption of the kinds of remote‐working technologies long advocated for by disabled people opened up possibilities for inclusion. On the other, some people’s inability to access such technologies, together with increased social isolation, exacerbated forms of exclusion. This thematic issue considers what lessons can be learned from the pandemic in striving to design a future which is more inclusive for all. In this editorial, we provide a brief overview of some of the major challenges the pandemic created for disabled people, who were disproportionately negatively affected by it. We also suggest that a disability rights lens is a useful way of highlighting both the contingency of disability and the need for more responsive and humane healthcare systems. The editorial goes on to outline the opportunities to challenge entrenched ableism and create a “new normal” the pandemic afforded. It concludes by offering a thematic overview of the articles in this thematic issue, which together reveal a complex pattern of inclusions and exclusions, interdependence, and intersectionality.

Keywords:  ableism; coronavirus; Covid; education; intersectionality; technology



© Owen Barden, Ana Bê, Erin Pritchard, Laura Waite. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.