Education is dynamic and ever-changing. As such, educators are embroiled in a continuous quest to find the most effective and innovative ways of meeting the specific needs of each disabled student. Special education calls for an approach, which concurrently employs numerous assessment and instruction techniques to maximize the learning potential of each student. To this end, research is indispensable to authenticate new teaching techniques in special education beyond circumstantial evidence. Research, thus, helps increase the exposure of emerging techniques of instruction and evaluation, increase the chances of their incorporation into development programs, and eventually increase their popularity among practitioners. Numerous beliefs surround the learning process of disabled students. Theories that relate special education to research are vital in dispelling the beliefs and teaching traditions that could be detrimental to achieving the objectives of special education. Teachers, thus, use applicable theories to optimize students’ learning experiences. Disabled students find it hard to fit in a contemporary inclusive learning environment because of the wide range of needs. As such, learning theories such as cognitive load theory, Gestalt theory, and component display theory play a vital role in informing approaches to teaching disabled students. The theories of learning have to be taken into account to design lessons that address the special needs of each student.
While the medical disability model attributes the difficulties encountered by disabled people to their deficiencies or shortcomings in functionality, the social model of disability focuses on the restrictions, barriers, and disadvantages that permeate the social and physical environment of disabled people. Proponents of the social disability method tend to think of disability as social oppression because it places disability in social structures as opposed to the individual. Perceptions, policies, institutions, and attitudes all play a big role in fostering disability. In any case, disability buds from an aggregate of cultural norms, environment, and individual characteristics. These result in the formation and sustenance of exclusionary practices of disabled people because of their differences. This model has become a key basis for agitation of inclusive education in the sense that a student is recognized as a person who transcends impairment constraint and is not defined or restricted by their dysfunction (Kattari et al., 2017). The model gives a chance to the flexibility of the requirements of all learners with the emphasis being put on expectations and experiences, as opposed to perceptions and assumptions.
People with disabilities face a broad spectrum of stigmatization and marginalization in their day-to-day lives. The various forms of stigmatization are caused by negative attitudes to disability that society has. Normal students and teachers usually tend to have a negative dispensation towards students with disabilities. Milsom (2006) posits that normal students prefer to interact with students without disabilities, which marginalizes disabled students. People who are labeled disabled are often treated as different from normal people and as such are not given equal education opportunities because they are considered deficient. In addition, certain members of society express dislike, mistrust, and fear of disabled people and avoid relating to them. Others hold the view that living with a disability reduces the ability of an individual to live life to the fullest. As such, disabled students continue to lack equal access to educational facilities and programs.
However, stakeholders are making efforts to change negative attitudes towards disabled students and incorporate them into mainstream education programs through inclusive learning. Inclusive learning refers to an environment where students of all levels of ability experience the learning process in one place simultaneously. Inclusive learning emphasizes the capacity of schools to recognize and respond to the educational entitlements and requirements of each student. This approach prevents stigmatization and labeling of students and prioritizes the development and implementation of responsive education programs and environments. In addition, inclusive learning aims to transcend equality in access to education and increase the active engagement and participation of disabled students into mainstream educational programs. While appreciating that different students learn differently, inclusive learning entails weaving support and instructions to help the progression of all students. As such, inclusive learning tailors learning for all students, which provides richer opportunities for all students. In any case, students of differing abilities tend to be better motivated when their peers surround them.
Inclusive learning also heightens the expectations of students because each student is given an equal chance to be a member of the community. Each leaner has an equal chance to develop his or her unique gifts and strengths. Inclusive learning also develops a culture of belonging and respect. This is because of its concerted effort to raise awareness and acceptance of individual differences in students.
Changing the attitude of stakeholders in the learning process has been one of the most salient challenges facing the implementation of inclusive learning. Many individuals still feel uncomfortable and resist the incorporation of students with disabilities into mainstream educational programs. Inherent prejudices against the disabled make it difficult to eradicate discrimination. Many institutions lack adequate infrastructural facilities to accommodate the needs of disabled students. The curricula of most education programs are usually rigid and offer little leeway for incorporations of teaching approaches to benefit disabled learners. In addition, teachers may be inadequately trained, unenthusiastic, or reluctant to work with disabled students, which present a significant barrier to achieving the objectives of inclusive learning. Language development and communication approaches focus on the significance of verbal interaction and language interactions in the learning process. The development and use of language play a huge role in education. Using proper approaches to develop language and streamline communication is vital in a class setting where students with a myriad of individual differences and handled collectively.
Task B: A Report Based on Own Practice
Disabled students have traditionally experienced significant levels of segregation in learning institutions in the UK which deprived them of employment opportunities. This practice and attitude towards students living with disabilities have made disabled people a very disadvantaged group in the UK. Across the United Kingdom, efforts are being made to increase awareness of the plight of disabled students in accessing quality education. Even though some level of segregation in the provision of education is still being experienced in some schools in the UK, and London in particular, inclusive learning has been continually gaining momentum in the recent past. However, inclusive education has been to a large extent been influenced by the UK's political class. The Warnock report of 1978 provided the foundation of education inclusion context in the UK. Both the Excellence for all children green paper of 1997 and SENDA (Special education needs and disabilities Act) 2001 refined legislation on inclusive education and was meant to foster a larger commitment towards facilitating inclusive education (Lauchlan and Greig, 2015). Every child matters act (ECM) of 2004 occasioned significant changes in how professionals working with disabled learners approach inclusive education.
Although legislation on disabled students has not been reviewed since ECM still forms the backbone of constitutional policy that local councils refer to when dealing with the education of disabled students. In the UK, inclusion is intimately linked to policy. In the London Borough of Islington, and London in general, inadequacy in terms of resources committed to ensuring the success of inclusive education is a perennial challenge. SEND (Special education needs and disabilities) funding from the central administration to local councils has, in the recent past failed to meet the rising demands of students with SEND.
Although accessibility and inclusivity levels are not where they should be, current policies and legal requirements go a long way in fostering the well-being of students with SEND as well as promoting their rights. First and foremost, it is illegal to treat SEND status unfavorably. For instance, students cannot be refused admission on the basis of disability. Any form of harassment or discrimination such as shouting at a learner with SEND because of not paying attention or hindering them from going for breaks because they would take too long is illegal. The UK law as enforced by local education officials requires schools to undertake reasonable adjustments that make SEND students feel as included as possible. Such adjustment at times includes making special equipment and specialist teachers available. However, schools must make their physical facilities such as classrooms accessible to SEND students.
National policies require local and school authorities to identify SEND students and assess their needs to determine how much help they need. To this end, some organizations and networks play a vital role in the form of additional service provision and support to SEND students. Prominent organizations in my locality involved in support of SEND students include the NHS, BILD, the Elfrida society, and Livability. Schools in the UK are required by law under the Education and Inspection Act of 2006 to prevent bullying in all its forms among students. It should be noted that attitudes and prejudices still harbored by the mainstream student population make SEND students susceptible to bullying. School and local authorities work with relevant bodies to ensure that the emotional and psychological health of students is protected. This makes the initiative against bullying particularly effective and I can attest that bullying cases in Islington have decreased dramatically since 2006
Students with SEND may need specialized facilities, treatments, or handling. In Islington, schools have performing and visual arts spaces for students with sight and hearing deficiencies, and those with mobility restrictions. Teachers continually encounter new situations especially in cases where students with intense SEND are incorporated into mainstream programs. For instance, students with autism present cognitive processing delays and have trouble expressing themselves, which makes their social skills underdeveloped. Handling such students brings with it significant levels of risk which include; inability to recognize hazards, physical handling risks, management of extreme behavior, transport, and use of mechanical equipment. As such, risk assessment is vital in efforts to accommodate SEND students in mainstream educational programs. For instance, students with mobility restrictions are placed in smaller groups and given activities that are physically less demanding. Similarly, assessment of visual or hearing impairment is vital in the provision of materials and personnel that would enable inclusive learning.
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