Diversity is having a seat at the table,

Inclusion is having a voice, and

Belonging is having that voice be heard

Liz Fosslien


My personal journey towards the topic of Inclusion

I started my student life with a degree in high school education (mathematics and physics). And – as a side note – no, I didn’t have “reduced math” or “reduced physics” courses, I sat in the same courses as the math and physics students. However, exactly this high load and level of mathematics and physics didn’t leave much space for pedagogic or psychology courses. Even during my first year at uni, within my first teaching period, I was challenged by teaching a class with some special needs students. During preparatory conversations with teachers, I figured out that current teachers feel insufficiently prepared of inclusive education.


Studying Education within Australia

This lack of covering special needs topics within my German education deeply motivated me to study such topics abroad. When I studied in Brisbane, Australia, in 2014, I was keen to take courses in the context of Diversity and Inclusive Education. Within the Queensland’s school system, there is no separation of people with special needs and “regular students”. Therefore, every teacher needs to be enabled to teach all students. Without diving into any details of my courses, I want to share my key learning with you.

There are no disabled people, there are only people with (a) disabiliti(es).


My teachers in Brisbane have been very strict on the word order. This is what I am very thankful for, it enabled me to develop another mindset, the picture which I relate to disabilities:

Everybody is human, every human might have to carry some baggage,

and a disability is some kind of extra baggage to carry.

I would like to encourage each and everybody of you to develop such a way of thinking about people with special needs. We are all human, we all deserve the same rights, human rights. Each and everybody has his/her package to carry, some bags are clearly visible, others aren’t, but they all exist.


Getting my own baggage to carry

After coming back from Australia, I deeply missed the open mindset of including everyone into the same classroom. In any of my further teaching periods, I had special needs students in some of my classes. Thanks to my Australian education, teaching such classes was fun rather than difficult. At the same time, I figured out that teaching for 40 years would be too boring, without any major changes or challenges. Therefore, I decided to do a physics degree on top. This is why I am not working as a teacher now.

Only a few years after coming back from Australia, I was diagnosed with so-called “Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia”, which is a general term for a group of rare inherited disorders that cause weakness and stiffness in the leg muscles. Since even the group of disorders already counts as rare, each and every type of disorders is even less abundant. I quickly realized that any rare diagnose implicitly involves the risk of worse treatment. Health Insurances or Pharmacies don’t really invest into any studies regarding rare cases, simply because they won’t be able to make a lot of money out of any medication.


Unfortunate implications

Considering the lack of studies, such rare disabilities are often not known to medical doctors. It is even more difficult to find any specialists helping you with the empirical knowledge they have developed through treating some people with the same or similar diagnose. If such specialists recommend specific treatments, you might face much back and forth communication with your health insurance. They frequently resist on “not being able to pay for the therapy as there are no studies proving its effectiveness”. I usually offer to use my experience to start a study, as the lack of proving data is due to the lack of any studies, not the existence of disproving data. You might realize that any help or treatment for rare medical cases is comparatively expensive.


My motivation

I love traveling, I love seeing the world, diving into foreign cultures, talking to people, trying out completely new things. I keep traveling, even though my leg-muscles might hurt, might be stiff, might prevent me from climbing up certain mountains. My disability won’t stop me. I rather want to show you all what is possible even with some restrictions. My articles on recent travels not only cover experiences and recommendations, but also information regarding the accessibility of places.

Moreover, I want to write about diversity, inclusion and belonging. Some people inspired me to find my way of living with this disability. If my writings inspire at least one person of my readers and this person takes something positive to another context, I was successful. If this person then, again, inspires at minimum one other person, and so on, a positive chain exists among us.