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People who have severe disabilities have lived under centuries of legalized reliance and exclusion. With every law that showed the liberalizing of society's commitment to disabled people has come the realization by disabled people that prejudice in the community didn't really end. This discrimination continued because oppressive changes were introduced to limit society's responsibility and the few progressive changes that were introduced were never supported financially. It has become evident that institutional prejudice shall not be overcome by good intentioned but uncoordinated and financially unsupported changes.
With these centuries, even millennia of prejudice and oppression, society has made our dependency apparently inescapable. Many disabled people, cannot work except in sheltered workshops at often less than the minimum earnings. Many physically disabled people cannot travel on commercial transportation without submitting to patronizing assistance or inconveniencing regulations that fluctuate from company to company. Many disabled people cannot live in their own homes because personal care attendants will only be paid for by society if they live segregated in institutions. There have been numerous cases of parents who are disabled, having their children taken from them because the child would not he raised in a normal environment. In divorce proceedings between a disabled and a non-disabled parent, custody has been awarded to the non-disabled parent based on this kind of prejudicial perception of normality.
Unlike distinctiveness that should not affect the expected costs and benefits of hiring or serving a person, disabilities can frequently enforce noteworthy costs on employers or owners of public accommodations. To avoid economic prejudice between people with and without disabilities, any added costs connected with hiring a disabled person that should be reflected in lower reward paid to the disabled person. Likewise, any significant additional cost of selling a good or providing a service to a disabled person should be offset with higher prices paid by the disabled person. If employers and owners of public accommodations were forced to bear those costs, they would effectively be forced to engage in economic discrimination against the nondisabled, and overall economic efficiency would be diminished.
It is under this kind of basic denial of our human and civil rights that disabled people survive with little or nor services. What service that was provided was full of routine red tape and regulations that kept us dependent. There was no harmonization of available services that would break through this vicious cycle of dependency.
Legislation for Mainstreaming
The first legislation effort to outlaw some forms of discrimination against the handicapped was the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Originally, that act defined "handicapped individual" as any individual who (A) has a physical or mental disability, which for such individual constitutes or results in a substantial handicap to employment and (B) can reasonably be probable to benefit in terms of employability from vocational rehabilitative services.
Subsequent amendments in the Rehabilitation, Comprehensive Services, and Developmental Disabilities Act of 1978 redefined the term "handicapped individual" as any person who (i) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person's major life functions, (ii) has a record of such impairment, or (iii) is regarded as having such impairment. (U.S.C. 706)
In 1986 the Rehabilitation Act was again amended to replace the term "handicapped individual" with "individual with a handicap."
That amended definition became the basis for assign disabled people under the Fair Housing Amendments Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Civil Rights Act of 1968, as changed by the Fair Housing Amendments Act, excludes as a handicap current illegal use of or addiction to a controlled substance. (U.S.C. 3602) Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, "disability" replaces "handicap." However, section 511 of the ADA specifically excludes individuals with the following situation from protection under the act: homosexuality, bisexuality, transvestism, transsexualism, pedophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, gender identity disorders not ensuing from physical impairments, other sexual behavior disorders, compulsive gambling, kleptomania, pyromania, and disorders resulting from the current illegal use of drugs. (U.S.C. 12211) Those barring under section 511 of the ADA do not apply to the sale and rental of housing covered under the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended.
Supporters of the ADA claim that 43 million Americans have one or more physical or mental disabilities. (U.S.C. 12101) To disembark at that seemingly high number, however, the supporters treat all 31 million Americans who are age 65 or older as disabled. Although some elderly Americans are mentally or physically disabled, many clearly are not. More sensible estimates from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research suggest that the number of Americans suffering from serious disabilities is much smaller. Roughly 7.9 million Americans have some form of vision impairment, but fewer than 400,000 are actually blind. Likewise, only 1.7 million of the 21 million people with hearing impairments are in fact deaf. Even individuals confined to wheelchairs, the group most commonly thought of as disabled, number only 720,000. (National Health Interview Survey, National Institute on Disabilities and rehabilitation Research. Visual and hearing impairment data are from the).
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
The costs imposed on the American people by earlier attempts to ban discrimination against disabled individuals are minor in contrast with the crushing burdens mandated by the ADA. In each of its four major titles, the ADA pursues, with enthusiastic disregard for economic costs, its stated goal of mainstreaming disabled individuals. The provisions of the ADA and the regulations resulting from it are frequently outlandish. 102(a) of the ADA provides that no covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability because of the disability of such entity in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and rights of employment. (U.S.C. 12112)
Methods of instructing America's youth. Mrs. Judy Hernandez, a seasoned professional who has been teaching in Howard County, Pennsylvania for thirty-five years, argue that the system is cyclical in nature and that all educational methods have been tested in one way or another even if they claim to be "new." The latest issue of inclusion, where students with mild to severe learning disabilities are included in the regular classroom with special assistance, is cyclical as well. "My learning-disabled students used to get pulled out in the 80's, then included in the 90s, says Mrs. Hernandez, "We won't ever reach a definite answer."
Perhaps we will not, but the debate persists as teachers, administrators, and parents across the country continue to look for an answer. As with most controversial issues, there are ardent supporters who admire inclusion and equally passionate nonbelievers who claim inclusion is of little to no advantage to disabled learners and their non-disabled peers. Somewhere in the middle is a supporter like myself, who believes that inclusion may work well for some students and not very well for others.
Why Mainstreaming should be Adopted
As it concerns students with disabilities, parents, and educators have long believed that raising expectations results in higher achievement. The children simply are not advancing socially or developing effective communication skills in dedicated classrooms. It is a well-known fact in developmental psychology that children learn finest when they are in a very rich and stimulating environment, therefore it is not beneficial to be tucked away and stuffed with three of their peers in a tiny classroom all day. Furthermore, by ostracizing special needs students in public.
In some cases inclusion is beneficial to special needs students, and in some occurrence it is not. For instance, a child who is extroverted, sociable, and well liked may grow in a regular classroom. He may feel encouraged by his peers and learn a lot from them. On the other hand, a child who is developmentally belated as well as academically challenged may need more one-on-one help.
Furthermore, the capabilities of a teacher must also be taken into thought. For example, some teachers are not physically capable of engaging a classroom of totally diverse learners. One of the main challenges of teaching is trying to make sure each student's needs are met. In a class where there are physically disabled, mentally retarded, learning disabled, behaviorally challenged, and gifted students all together administrators have experienced difficulty.
Inclusion benefits everyone, from children to parents and staff. We have included benefits from many diverse perspectives, and we are sure that you will be able to add to the lists when you start to build inclusion into your program.
Children with Special Needs
Part of their community
Peers serve as role models
Peers provide a reason to communicate
Learn motor, communication & other skills within natural settings
Children without Disabilities
Acceptance of differences
Diversity of friendships
Helps children become more resourceful & creative
Awareness of disabilities
All parents are part of community
Knowledge of typical development
Availability of other parents for support & information
Early Childhood Providers
Hands-on training for staff
Learn to work as a team
Wealth of support and materials
More understanding of child development
Special Education Providers
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