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Practical Community Learning Project (PCLP)

Resource guide to support the Program in Practical Policy Engagement Program.

Equality versus Equity

Three images depicting different approaches to equality and equity through spectators at a baseball game. Left, showing three spectators, only two of whom are tall enough to see over a fence: "In the first image, it is assumed that everyone will benefit from the same supports. They are being treated equally." Center, the same spectators with the shorter ones standing on more boxes to see over: "In the second image, individuals are given different supports to make it possible for them to have equal access to the game. They are being treated equitably." Right, with a chain-link fence: "In the third image, all three can see the game without any supports or accommodations because the cause of the inequity was addressed. The systemic barrier has been removed."

Source: The Case for Cultural Competence, DeEtta Jones' Equity Toolkit website.

The key issue with both equality and equity is that they focus almost wholly on the individual and, in the case of equity, making special accommodations or provisions per individual or group and with finite resources. This means that the allocation of resources depends on the priorities of the person with the power to make those choices....“Focusing on the fence,” however, means that a system can be examined for its ability to meet the needs of the organization/community it’s designed to serve, and for areas where bias is having a negative impact on its usefulness. This work is called de-biasing systems.

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