Disability Inclusion Helpdesk evidence digest highlights the latest evidence, guidance, and programme learning on inclusive education. Within it you’ll also find the latest evidence, guidance and policy news on a range of other disability inclusion topics including stigma, discrimination, and violence; poverty, social protection, and employment; inclusive health systems; and disability inclusion in humanitarian settings.
Early childhood education has the potential to expand opportunities for disadvantaged children, provided that programmes use inclusion as a guiding principle. While the international community has committed to inclusive education, countries vary in their efforts to extend this goal to early childhood. Universal access is the basis of inclusion, and countries must address barriers related to socio-economic status, ethnicity, gender, language, disability and remoteness. Cooperation among multiple actors to identify special needs early and provide integrated services is needed, as are inclusive curricula that support children’s socioemotional development and identity formation. Finally, educators must be given the knowledge, training, and support to implement inclusive practices and work with families from all backgrounds
Policy paper 46.
This report documents the experience of exclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. These experiences reveal pre-existing structural inequalities that affected the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and their families before COVID-19, during the pandemic, and beyond, and this report raises up the voices of those most excluded in a time of global crisis and demands an inclusive COVID-19 recovery.
This report includes the experiences of people with intellectual disabilities and families across eight different issue areas. Across these themes, we examined how and why people with intellectual disabilities were left out and excluded in pandemic responses, what pre-existing conditions and inequalities contributed to their vulnerability and exclusion, and how future policy structures could begin to address both this immediate and systemic exclusion.
Together, these experiences and policy solutions form our global agenda for inclusive COVID-19 recovery, an action plan to ensure that government efforts to ‘build back better’ are inclusive of people with intellectual disabilities and their families.
An online text discussion forum discussing how best the education of children with disabilities can be supported in low and middle income countries.
Inclusion International is often asked what we mean by “inclusive education”. Here are the most common questions from our members together with our responses. The responses are based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and General Comment 4 issued by the UN CRPD committee, which outlines the implications of the CRPD for inclusive education.
- What is inclusive education?
- What are the differences between exclusion, segregation, integration and inclusion?
- What are the key ingredients of an inclusive education system?
- What are some of the steps toward achieving inclusive education?
- What is the difference between an inclusive education system, an inclusive school and inclusive classroom/practices?
- What is meant by the “twin–track” approach to funding inclusive education?
- What is the difference between accessibility and reasonable accommodation?
- How can teachers provide equal opportunities for all students within their allocated classrooms?
- Is transforming special schools into resource centres a good strategy for moving towards an inclusive system?
- What is sometimes called “inclusive education” but is not?
- What are the benefits of inclusive education for students with disabilities?
- Is inclusive education good only for students with disabilities?
- Is inclusive education more expensive than segregation?
This report documents the experiences of people with intellectual disabilities and their families during COVID-19 and proposes a global agenda for inclusive COVID recovery developed by Inclusion International’s membership. The global agenda is a set of imperatives for policy and programming to ensure that “building back better” creates a more inclusive world.
This advocacy brief from the UN Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) and Leonard Cheshire draws attention to the main barriers to education for girls with disabilities, in the context of major opportunities for advocacy and tangible change in 2021. The recommendations outlined are targeted at world leaders, governments, ministries, UN agencies and NGOs. They offer a framework for rights-based action and principles towards gender-responsive and inclusive education, to ensure that no girls with disabilities are left behind.
This is an updated evidence review looking at the evidence on factors affecting access to and uptake of family planning for women and girls with disabilities in low- and middle-income countries and the evidence on good practice on increasing full free and informed contraceptive choice for women and girls with disabilities.
1) What is the evidence on factors affecting access to and uptake of family planning for women and girls with disabilities in low and middle income countries, highlighting examples from FP2020 commitment-making countries?
2) What is the evidence on good practice on increasing full free and informed contraceptive choice for women and girls with disabilities – from the same countries or elsewhere?
Globally, there is limited research on how deaf and hard of hearing adults experience higher education and work. The purpose of the present study is to examine hard of hearing (HH) adults’ experiences of social interactions and social relationships in higher education, the workplace and leisure time. Data were obtained from semistructured interviews with 16 individuals (aged 24–31 years) from diverse cultural backgrounds (10 males and 6 females) with severe-to-profound hearing loss. Participants were selected based on previous expressed interest in participating in further studies after having been involved in an earlier study. The interviews were subjected to a qualitative thematic data analysis. According to the results, people with a hearing loss experience communication barrier in higher education, at work and in leisure time. These communication barriers lead to difficulties achieving social inclusion, and in some circumstances to social exclusion. Assistive technology (AT) and information and communication technologies (ICT) were important facilitators of moving from social exclusion towards social inclusion.
The large-scale mainstreaming of disabled children in education in China was initiated with the launching of a national policy called ‘Learning in Regular Classrooms’ in the late 1980s. More than thirty years on, and little is known about disabled children’s daily experiences in regular schools due to a lack of research that foregrounds their voices. This paper reports the main findings from an ethnographic study conducted in 4 state- funded primary schools in Shanghai involving 11 children labelled as having ‘intellectual disabilities’, 10 class teachers and 3 resource teachers. Data were collected through participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and child-friendly participatory activities, and thematically analysed to identify patterns in practices and beliefs that underpin the processes of inclusion and exclusion. The research found that the child participants were facing marginalisation in many aspects of school life with rather limited participation in decision-making. The exclusionary processes were reinforced by a prevailing special educational thinking and practice, a charitable approach to the disadvantaged in a Confucian society, and an extremely competitive and performative schooling culture. The findings address the need to hear disabled children’s voices to initiate a paradigm shift in understanding and practice to counterbalance deep-rooted barriers. The paper concludes with suggestions for future research.
Antony Were, who works for Humanity & Inclusion in Kenya, briefly describes his experience as an inclusive teacher in refugee camps and asks panelists how can teachers be better supported to be inclusive teachers, especially during times of crisis like COVID, so that children with disabilities don’t lose out
The overall objective of this study was to examine the impact of school closures due to Covid-19 on the education of children with disabilities attending primary schools. Using phone surveys, 99 parents/carers were interviewed to gain insight into the educational experiences of their children, any barriers faced and their main concerns. All the families had at least one child with a disability in the 6-15 years age group, with approximately six families reporting two or more children with disabilities (though not in the same age range)
Purpose: To explore participation in real-life activities during early childhood, compare children’s partici- pation based on motor function and investigate relationships between participation and parental empowerment.
Methods: Data derived from the Cerebral Palsy Follow-up Program (CPOP) in Norway and the research registry Habilitation Trajectories, Interventions, and Services for Young Children with CP (CPHAB). Fifty-six children (12–56 months, GMFCS levels I–IV, MACS levels I–V) and their families were included. Frequency and enjoyment of participation were assessed by the Child Engagement in Daily Life Questionnaire and parental empowerment in family and service situations by the Family Empowerment Scale at least twice during the preschool years. Differences between groups based on motor function were explored by the Kruskal–Wallis tests. A linear mixed model was conducted to explore relationships between child partici- pation and parental empowerment.
Results: Similarities and differences in participation between children at different motor function levels varied between the activities explored. Fluctuations in frequency and stable enjoyment scores over time were most common. A statistically significant relationship was revealed between child participation and parental empowerment in family situations, but not in service situations.
Conclusions: Child participation appears as context-dependent and complexly influenced by both motor function and parental empowerment. This supports a focus on transactional processes when exploring and promoting child participation.
Background:Sexual and reproductive health (SRH) of young people including those with disabilities is a major public health concern globally. However, available evidence on their use of sexual and reproductive health services (SRHS) is inconsistent.
Objective:This study investigated utilisation of SRHS amongst the in-school young people with disabilities (YPWDs) in Ghana using the healthcare utilisation model.
Methods: Guided by the cross-sectional study design, a questionnaire was used to obtain data from 2114 blind and deaf pupils or students in the age group 10-24 years, sampled from 15 purposively selected special schools for the deaf and the blind in Ghana.
Results: About seven out of every 10 respondents had ever utilised SRHS. The proportion was higher amongst the males (67.8%) compared with the females (62.8%). Young persons with disabilities in the coastal (OR = 0.03, 95% CI = 0.01–0.22) and middle (OR = 0.06, 95% CI = 0.01–0.44) zones were less likely to have ever utilised SRHS compared with those in the northern ecological zone. The blind pupils or students were more likely to have ever utilised SRHS than the deaf (OR = 1.45, 95% CI = 1.26–3.11).
Conclusions: Generally, SRHS utilisation amongst the in-school YPWDs in Ghana is high but significantly associated with some predisposing, need and enabling or disabling factors. This underscores the need for policymakers to consider in-school YPWDs as a heterogeneous group in the design and implementation of SRHS programmes. The Ghana Education Service in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service should adopt appropriate pragmatic measures and targeted interventions in the special schools to address the SRH needs of the pupils or students.
Compared with other children, children with disabilities are less likely to receive an education, less likely to be employed as adults, more likely to be victims of violence, less likely to start their own families and participate in community events, and more likely to live in poverty.
The exclusion of children with disabilities affects not only them, but imposes costs on the whole community. If these children lack the opportunity to be productive, society loses out on what they could have produced. The barriers faced by people with disabilities can also create more responsibilities for their family members, which can limit their opportunities to work or get an education.
Moreover, the impact of exclusion extends beyond the economic cost. If people with disabilities are absent from public discourse, the community cannot benefit from their ideas. If they are excluded from political participation, the government cannot truly represent the interests of all citizens.
A growing body of research suggests that the costs of exclusion are high. Fortunately, evidence also demonstrates that there are effective ways to ameliorate these costs. A strong case can be made for the social and economic benefits of inclusion. This paper is an effort to begin making that case.
This research explores the experiences of Beth, a university student in the UK, as she comes to be labelled as ‘dyslexic’, and as she has her diagnosis taken away. Through use of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) and discourse analysis, the research seeks to understand how Beth made sense of these experiences, and to explore the discursive ‘life’ of dyslexia within this sense-making. The discussion in this paper proceeds chronologically through Beth’s story, from ‘struggle’, to ‘legitimation’ to ‘derogation’, and concludes with a call to recognise the role of diagnosis in the field of special educational needs (SEN) from a social constructionist and relational perspective.
Inclusive education offers a variety of potential academic and social benefits for all students; with as well as without disabilities. However, a common concern among the non-disabled population is the potential negative impacts the inclusion of students with disabilities might have on their non-disabled classmates. These negative beliefs and attitudes by parents and teachers can translate into a lack of implementation of inclusive education. There is substantial evidence for the benefits of inclusion for students with disabilities, however, there is very little evidence on the impact it has on non-disabled students, particularly in LMICs compared to HICs. This evidence brief explores evidence-based recommendations on the benefits of inclusive education for children without disabilities and how this issue shapes inclusive education implementation in LMICs.
This article is based on studies carried out within the Young children’s learning research education programme. This undertaking involved five graduate students, all recruited from the Swedish preschool system. The licentiate thesis makes up the final product of their education programme, and the focus of each candidate’s licentiate thesis was preschool-level documentation. Using the results of all five theses, a re-analysis was conducted with the concept of normality as the common starting point. The purpose was to investigate whether documentation and assessment can change the view of normality in preschools, and furthermore, what consequences there may be for preschool activity. ‘The narrow preschool and the wide preschool’ is the model used to support the analysis, which is a model used in previous studies to review and discuss educational choices and conditions in the school system. Results of the present investigation show that the documents and assessments performed in preschool have a strong focus on the individual child and a traditional, school-oriented learning is highly valued. The documentation and assessment practices that take place now in our preschools, therefore, most likely influence the preschool view of normality and restrict the acceptance of differences.
Representation of disability in school textbooks may influence pupils’ knowledge and perceptions of people with disabilities. The aim of this study was to investigate representation of people with disabilities in school textbooks. The study employed a mixed-methods approach. Quantitative frequency analysis was used to investigate the extent of representation of disabilities in texts and pictures in 78 Norwegian textbooks for Grades 5–10. Regarding texts, the results showed that people with disabilities were represented in less than half of these textbooks (49%). Concerning pictures, people with disabilities were even less represented, appearing in only 29% of the textbooks. These quantitative findings were supplemented by a qualitative survey of textbook authors, who were asked to explain the marked absence of disability references in their own books and in school textbooks in general. The two most frequent explanations were that textbook authors had either overlooked people with disabilities, or that the Norwegian National Curriculum (Kunnskapsdepartementet 2006. Lærerplanverket for Kunnskapsløftet (LK06) [The Norwegian National Curriculum]. https://www.udir.no/lk20/overordnet-del/) did not explicitly mention this minority. We discuss these explanations as expressions of conscious considerations rather than unconscious omissions.
Previous research has repeatedly confirmed that students with special educational needs (SEN) are generally less accepted by their peers. Although inclusive teaching strategies and classroom characteristics are frequently hypothesised to improve students’ social participation, empirical evidence is scarce. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to investigate classroom characteristics and teaching practices that can help foster social participation, in general, and reduce the effect of lower social participation among students with SEN, in particular. The sample includes 518 students in 31 Grade 4 and 7 classes from Austria, of whom 99 are students with SEN. The results show that students with SEN receive fewer peer nominations and perceive their social participation to be lower compared to their peers without SEN. However, the association between SEN and self-perceived social participation is moderated by the social classroom climate, i.e. the difference becomes smaller when the social classroom climate is more positive. Furthermore, the higher the personalised instruction was rated by a student, the higher was his or her social status. The results suggest that interventions should focus not only on the improvement of individual students (with SEN) but also on changing the whole classroom environment.
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