Theory and Implementation of Inclusion: Barriers and Resources

Theory and Implementation of Inclusion: Barriers and Resources

Christine M. Gleason (University of Houston, USA) and Kristi L. Santi (University of Houston, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5727-2.ch002


The inclusion of students with special needs in general education settings has become an essential component of education. Including all students in the least restrictive environment to the maximum extent possible is the law and an innate human right. However, research reveals that some teachers do not have positive attitudes toward including students with disabilities. The purpose of this chapter is to discuss findings from a study that uncovered factors behind teachers' attitudes toward inclusion. The general findings and themes are discussed. The chapter concludes with a list of resources teachers can access without payment to help them better understand students with disabilities and ways in which the teacher can more easily develop an inclusive, inviting environment for all.
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There are several federal laws, past and present, mandating the process of inclusion in public school settings, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2004) and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, 2015). These laws aim to prepare and provide opportunities for young people with disabilities to fulfill careers, with the ultimate goal of enhancing the American economy. In January of 2015 addressing the reauthorization of the 1965 ESEA, the then Education Secretary Arne Duncan asserted that not including all students in general education would “be accepting the morally and economically unsupportable notion that we have some kids to spare. We don’t.” Segregating some students “isn’t an option, [but] a civil right, a moral imperative” (Brenchley, 2015).

This “civil right” was first exhibited in the 1954 court case, Brown versus the Board of Education, which determined segregated classrooms were fundamentally unjust. Even though this U.S. Supreme Court decision was based on the segregation of race, this ruling applies to all educational practices including special education because segregation for any reason does not comply with the law establishing equal rights (Smith & Kozlesky, 2005). The process of desegregation was the first and most prominent step in an effort to ensure equality for all, and ultimately helped usher inclusion into the educational setting. Parallel to the African-Americans seeking more understanding, acceptance, and support from others to be included, students with disabilities need the same from their communities (Brandes & Crowson, 2008). Communities must increase understanding by providing awareness of inclusion programs and the inclusion process (Fletcher, Denton, & Francis, 2005). Parents need to be informed and trained on best practices to support their child’s development and growth at home and at school (Brandes & Crowson, 2008).

Figure 1.

Historical process of inclusion. How inclusion developed


Key Terms in this Chapter

Multiple Disabilities: A disorder combining two or more disabilities identified by the IDEA except deaf-blindness, which is its own disability category.

Locus of Control: A location, either inside or outside of oneself, from which the individual attributes the power of something.

Inclusion: Incorporating students with disabilities in the same settings as students without disabilities while allowing them to participate in the same curriculum and lessons but possibly with additional assistance, modifications and/or accommodations.

Disability: A visual, auditory, cognitive, oral, or physical impairment that impedes the daily functioning in one’s life.

Special Education: A type of instruction consisting of academic accommodations, modifications, different settings, or legal changes made to the education of a person with a disability needed for the individual to succeed.

Autism: A social sensory disability that hinders the way in which one communicates, experiences their bodies in space, interacts with and relates to others.

Learning Disability (LD): A disorder which may take several different unseen forms such as auditory, visual, or cognitive processing impairment which may be indicated by a difference of at least 30 IQ points in a particular area and overall IQ score but is not a reflection of one’s total level of intelligence.

Individuals With Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA): A federal ruling which guarantees all students the right to be provided with a public education in an setting that fits his or her needs without any direct cost to the student or his or her family.

Emotional Disturbance (ED): A person who does not self-regulate feelings appropriately given a particular environment, situation, or stimuli to the extent that the feelings keep one from functioning or learning.

Intellectual Disability: A disorder that results in a significantly lower intelligence quotient score, slowing the learning process and often presenting a need for life skills used for daily functioning to be taught directly instead of indirectly learned at appropriate ages.

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