People with disabilities have long suffered from discrimination and segregation. In the 1880, people with hearing, visual, physical, mental or emotional impairments were sent to be educated in residential institutions or asylums. ("Issues about Change) Parents and family of those with disabilities put pressure on our government and legislation to develop and provide equal access to education by way of mainstreaming or special education. Section 504 of Public Law 93-112 passed in 1973 had far reaching effect on exclusion and discrimination. (Gollnick and Chinn p. 168) This law did for those with disabilities that Title IX did for females and education; it provided access and participation in regular education and extracurricular activities; liberties that every American has come to expect. In the 1970’s people such as Matthew, were mainstreamed into regular classrooms to allow for a less restrictive environment and to exercise their right to be educated alongside their peers.
Section 504 was not perfect and Law 94-142 was approved in 1975 to strength educational policies for the handicapped by providing free and appropriate education for all children with disabilities through fair, accurate and non-biased evaluations. (Gollnick and Chinn, p. 168-169). This law encouraged the development of a balanced education in a normal environment for all children with disabilities. There was change in verbiage between 1977 law and 1990 American with Disabilities Act in 1990; no longer were people with disabilities labeled crippled, handicap or retarded – students were referred to as student with disabilities, with the focus on student and less on the ailment (p. 171). I believe this change in perception is important because it recognizes the humanity of a person and less emphasis on their ailment. People with disabilities experience prejudice, discrimination, stereotyping and are often experience teasing or are treated as second class citizens. Our government has recognized the inequality and using legislation such as ADA continues to strive toward balancing social injustice on the often over labeled disabled.
Teaching students with exceptional abilities requires funding, training and planning. Being in a regular classroom with children from various cultures, ethnic backgrounds and intellectual ability help students learn how to work together toward a common goal: reduce discrimination and stereotyping people with physical and mental limitations. Instructional strategies that break the work down so everyone learns better can improve education as well as reduce cost. This is achieved by including special education students in environments that will allow them to develop normal social interactions as well as receive specific attention to their learning needs. ("What is Special Education”)
Children with disabilities need to be recognized as individuals as well as be valued for the people they will grow to be. In the classroom the growing process can...