Attitude, legislation, and litigation

Attitude, Legislation, and Litigation Attitude, Legislation, and Litigation The historical marginalization of people with disabilities limits their chances to equitably participate in basic activities. In some cases, it has resulted in the victimization of these persons within the institutions of learning as a result of psychosocial factors. Some of these factors include stereotyping, negative attitudes, and stigmas. Prior to the 1970s, public education system within the United States did not cater for students with disabilities. They had separate learning in residential institutions or isolated schools. It was until the mid-1970s that human rights advocacy, litigation, and other forms of legislation came into play. The turning point came in 1975 following the inauguration of the Education of All Handicapped Children Act. Since then, a series of legislations have been put in place to integrate students with disabilities within the overall education system. These developments were instrumental in the realization of inclusive education across the globe. Several countries have so far adopted progressive laws that seek to protect the rights of students with disabilities within the education system (Hodge, 2010). According to Winzer & Mazurek (2000), the contemporary special education system has been designed to enable students with disabilities exploit their full potential. These design acknowledges the difference that exists between students with disabilities and the average students. It thus accomodates the special needs of every individual student and seeks to embed this understanding deep within the overall education system. The succes of the entire process largely depends on external forces such as legislation, politics and ethics. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, 1990) stipulates that all students with disabilities should be given unrestricted access to educational programs. It also criminalizes all forms of discrimination against persons with disabilities, specifically within the education sector. Similarly, the United Nations has developed policies aimed at promoting the rights of children with disabilities. For instance, the United Nations Standard Rules for the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (1993) was pivotal in the birth of inclusive education. The inclusion model seeks to address social justice that forms the basis of normalization within the general education system. Generally, the inclusion model seeks to make students with disabilities a part of the local community. This is achieved by accommodating such students in the local schools rather than segregating them in special schools. As such, these students interact with people from their community thus enabling them to develop problem-solving and cognitive skills. In the event that the students with disabilities are isolated in special schools, the realization of normalization remains would be a mirage. The principle of inclusion eliminates elements of discrimination and shapes the general attitude towards people with disabilities (Konza, 2008). Despite the recognition of students with disabilities within the general education system and the consequential adoption of strategies to normalize and provide education for all, a myriad of issues still threaten the successful implementation of the process. The commitment towards inclusive education is too demanding. The first challenge is the establishment of national standards of education which are very competitive. Secondly, the increasing litigation on education policies and bureaucractic demands call for increased flexibility amongst educational practitioners. Lastly, the overall student performance or assessment; based on examination results, confronts the success of the process. Most schools focus on the overall academic excellence thus students with probable academic challenges are hardly offered a chance. In essence, schools that consider high-performing students admit more students as compared to schools that have opportunities for all (Konza, 2008). Even though the achievement of a barrier-free inclusion of students with disabilities in mainstream schools is still incomplete, there are signs of hope. The growing body of knowledge and research on special education indicates that the success largely depends on the school and individual teacher capacity. Konza (2008) notes that some regions are already experiencing both social and academic inclusion of students with disabilities. Based on cumulative research, there is evidence of a positivechange in teacher attitude towards students with disabilities. Programs that focus on capacity building will also equip teachers with appropriate skills for handling the students. The success of education for students with disabilities is forthcoming owing to increased teacher training and professional development. Training is the cornerstone of competence and attitude change towards special education. This study has completely shaped my initial perception on students with disabilities. Even though I did not discriminate against them, I felt that they should have separate learning instititutions. Given the special attention their training demands, I saw the need for special schools where specially trained teachers would provide the necessary learning environment. However, the recent lessons and literature review has seen a complete twist in my perception. Owing to need for social inclusion, students with special needs should be accomodated within the mainstream schools. Inclusion will make them feel as part of the community and enhance their problem-solving and cognitive abilities. There is also the need to equip all teachers with the necessary skills and knowledge on students with disabilities so that they can be accomodated in any school. Evidence-based research on students with disabilities and increased pedagogical developent will ultimately see the success of inclusion model. References Hodge, S. R. (2010). Adapted Physical Activity for Students with Special Needs. In P. P, B. E, & M. B, International Encyclopedia of Education (pp. 518-529). Oxford, UK: Elsevier. Konza, D. (2008). Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in New Times: Responding to the Challenge. University of Wollongong. Winzer, M. A., & Mazurek, K. (2000). Special Education in the 21st Century. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.