Disabilities and its Importance to Science Education
When it comes to diversity in the classroom, one of the key issues that teachers face is that of disabilities. The issue of disabilities affects not only science teachers, but all teachers. For this reason it is important to understand the different types of disabilities and some of the strategies that teachers should use to address the students’ differences.
There are many types of disabilities, and these can either be learning disabilities or emotional and behavioral disorders. Child with a disability means a child evaluated in accordance with §300.304 through §300.311 as having mental retardation, a hearing impairment (including deafness), a speech or language impairment, a visual impairment (including blindness), a serious emotional disturbance (referred to in this part as emotional disturbance), an orthopedic impairment, autism, traumatic brain injury, an other health impairment, a specific learning disability, deaf-blindness, or multiple disabilities, and who by reason thereof needs special education and related services (Assistance to States for the Education of Children With Disabilities, 2007).
First of all, it is important to understand the different types of disabilities. As seen from the definition of a child with a disability above, there are several kinds of disabilities. The disabilities are based on the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and each disability involves cases in which a child’s educational performance is negatively affected (National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, 2010). Some of the disabilities are more common than others, but it is important that teachers are familiar with each type of disability. Once teachers are familiar with the disabilities, then there are certain checklists that can be used in order to evaluate students.
After understanding the disabilities mentioned in the definition above, teachers are better able to identify the correct methods to use to work with the children and their parents in order for the child to achieve better educational performance. In regards to science teachers, it is very important to understand the different types of disabilities because science uses such a variety of teaching tools. Within science, you have assignments of reading, writing, lab experiments involving multiple pieces of lab equipment, videos, discussions, and research to name a few. Most of all you have the scientific language barrier that children must overcome. Within science you have both technical and non-technical words. Some words are used in everyday speech, but have different meanings when it comes to science. Therefore, it is difficult for even a child with no disabilities to understand the language of science. When a child does have a disability, it is even harder to overcome the language barrier. Therefore, the topic of disabilities is highly important to science teachers.
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