Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I was reading an interesting article (Speakers Highlight National Steps Taken to Promote Social Integration in Face of Economic Crisis, as Social Development Commission Concludes General Debate) today that addressed the issue of rights for those who are living with some type of disability. The article did a good job of illustrating the importance of integrating these individuals into all aspects of society.

What interested me the most was how there currently is a lack of integration in public schools. However, in the United States in recent years there has been a lot of progress in terms of integrating individuals with disabilities in public schools. As Americans we have always viewed education as the means to gaining economic opportunities. We also see education as a way to fully participate in society, however, for decades many states have prevented young children with various disabilities from attending public schools. As of 1975 most children with disabilities in the United States either received no public education at all or were denied equal educational services. By the late 1990s, the impact of federal laws and the efforts of disability rights advocates have produced significant changes. Today, most children with disabilities now attend public schools. Also, a majority of teenagers with disabilities complete high school and this greatly improves their prospects for a job.

However, mainstreaming individuals with disabilities also has its negative points. Public-school districts too often assume that inclusion is the most appropriate solution for all children living with a disability. This however, does not apply to all children like those who are deaf. Placing deaf children in mainstream classrooms denies them the opportunity to learn American Sign Language, inhibits their acquisition and development skills in any language, and effectively isolates them among students who can hear.

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