Why kindness is the key to a
more inclusive world
Cate Rae, Managing Director of Widgit explores why she believes that kindness is more essential than we might think when it comes to creating a more inclusive world.
A teacher taking time to listen to an anxious student.
A remote colleague checking up on another that’s been quiet for a few days.
An eye-to-eye smile at your local store.
Today is World Kindness Day 2020.
And this year we have both an opportunity, and a responsibility, to cultivate kindness like never before.
"I believe kindness is an essential ingredient for inclusive communication for all. In fact, it was kindness that led to the creation of Widgit over 40 years ago, born out of the desire to help people realise their full potential, no matter what their age, ability or background.
I am one of those people.
As a child, Dyslexia was a daily challenge for me, but I learned to cope with it with support from the people around me. As a result, I know how important showing kindness, patience and empathy is in helping others build up the self-belief and confidence required to achieve what they want from life.
And if you’re working with people who are challenged by communication, it’s likely that, like me, you’ll get excited about the idea of everyone being able to express themselves, shine and tell their story.
Creating and putting symbol-based communication tools into practice is how we work together to remove barriers for so many people, in so many ways.
Whilst we’re perhaps a decade or so away from the dream of symbols being used everywhere, kindness is a universal language available to everyone today.
And what’s more, it’s one of the few things that when you share it, it doubles.
You feel better. Being kind is proven to reduce stress, anxiety and have health benefits.
And those on the receiving end of acts of kindness feel better too and therefore are more likely to behave and share their own acts of kindness.
It creates a ripple effect of positive emotions and actions.
But what’s also interesting is that kindness and successful communication often go hand and in hand.
When it comes to inclusive communication, it’s about slowing down, paying attention and listening. Learning someone else’s language as an act of empathy that shows respect.
This is always important but even more so when we’re talking about those that find it difficult to communicate their feelings, wants or needs easily.
We listen to our communities because we care.
In our most recent survey of our parent community, almost 90 per cent of respondents said they were concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on their child’s education.
Wider research and an article published by The Guardian earlier this week also reports that children with special educational needs and disabilities have been the hardest hit by lockdown, as their structures, routines and the support they rely on has been removed.
We have a responsibility to stop and care for those who could so easily be left behind in a world that just got a whole lot more scary, disconnected and uncertain. We can’t make all the difference, but we can make some.
During the last lockdown, our team created a bank of tools to help parents, teachers and carers to support symbol users understanding of the COVID-19 situation more effectively. These tools can be accessed or shared from here.
In addition, to mark World Kindness Day 2020, Widgit are gifting accounts to people who most need our support.
And finally, thank you.
For the work you do. And for helping us to spread kindness to create a more inclusive and connected world."