Living with a disability is viewed as one of the marginalization factors, but the extreme perspectives vary in society. Disabilities are mainly explained through the social model of disability as socially created oppression (Lawson & Beckett, 2021). This definition indicates that communities create barriers to disadvantage disabled people. It is possible to use this model to explore various injustices or support systems designed to help marginalized individuals. The paper examines the differences in education and social welfare policies that support inclusivity between the United States and Finland.
The Image of Disability
Two essential legislations in the United States significantly changed perspectives toward people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) helped bring inclusivity and personal dignity (Blanck, 2019). The fundamental principles of IDEA and ADA changed the perspective of disability from a medical point of view that argues people are impaired and should be cured, tolerated, fixed, or pitied. Instead, persons with disabilities are accepted and accommodated in their human identity, allowing society to create more frameworks that support inclusivity (Francis & Silvers, 2016). For instance, office buildings, transport, and schools include structures that enable people with disabilities to access the facilities.
Finland focuses on promoting the inclusion of disabled people in the mainstream sectors rather than offering unique services. The country enacted the Comprehensive Schools Act of 1983 and the Disability Services Act to integrate people with special needs into the mainstream (Katsui et al., 2018; “Legislation and policy,” 2020). As a result of the inclusion, disabilities are acceptable, and people make an effort to create an individualized support system. Proper structures in transportation, housing, personal assistance, education, and daycare centers are installed to provide services to people with disabilities under every circumstance.
The Role of the Family
As primary care providers, parents, and families play a crucial role in supporting people with disabilities. The Finnish Disability Act of 1987 put social welfare and healthcare professionals in place to help parents of children with disabilities (Suhonen et al., 2019). The support range from daycare, health clinics, and educational and rehabilitation needs. Parents work with relevant authorities to offer medical therapy and daycare services, and they are eligible for financial support from the Social Insurance Institution (Pölkki & Vornanen, 2016; Suhonen et al., 2019). The monetary benefits allow one parent or family member to care for the child at home until the age of seven when they are old enough to report to school.
Parents have a better perspective of their kids, and they help professionals clarify crucial details that decrease inequality in child development. In the United States, the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention [CDC] (2020) indicates that a parent should report to doctors when a child’s milestones are delayed and work with professionals to address developmental concerns. Parents are also required to take children to clinics and support programs and enroll them in the early childhood system. Unlike in Finland, the parents in the United States do not have much support from the authority, making it hard for them to care for disabled individuals.
The Role of the Educator
Finland and the United States have taken significant measures to integrate all learners into general classrooms. Sandoval Gomez and McKee (2020) argue that viewing disability as a difference instead of a challenge forces educators to adopt multiple pedagogy and programming to help learners overcome disability. This perspective influences educators’ teaching practices, including teaching children with disabilities in small groups or offering extra help to ensure they keep up with the rest. The United States created individualized education plans that consider learning goals, individual needs, related services, and placement for students with disabilities. Conversely, Finland uses a resource-or-school-based model that considers the number of special education teachers and equipment needed to support students with disabilities (Hayes & Bulat, 2017). Inclusivity has increased acceptance and diversity by eliminating stigma because all students learn to socialize and collaborate. However, some educators in both countries have minimal understanding of inclusive education due to limited training and preparation.
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