5 The influence of ‘access’ on social exclusion and social connectedness for people with disabilities
Social exclusion of people with disabilities has been a focus of governments, communities, service providers and by people with disabilities themselves over the last few decades. While marginalisation of this group is well recognised it has been diﬃcult to clarify the relationship between the intertwined material, political and social elements that create a social divide (Bowe 1978). Addressing these elements is critical in order for people with disabilities to participate equally in society. Millar (2007) has suggested that participation is synonymous with social inclusion and connectedness but achieving participation has been problematic for many people with disabilities. Access is a concept that is increasingly used as a bridge between structural and social variables and participation outcomes and this is evidenced in human rights instruments, legislation and policies. Regardless of this, access barriers persist. A better understanding of the mechanics and inﬂuences on access, and of how access as a phenomenon is achieved or denied, could contribute to solutions and social inclusion. In this chapter, an understanding of access for people with disabilities is sought through a qualitative analysis of the literature.