This book examines the discrimination problems of students with disabilities through the prism of the need for special education and its various aspects. First of all, I was surprised that even the 1996 definition of ableism stated that it was a socially accepted event, although the negative connotation was evident to everyone (Hehir, 2005). Then, right there in the first chapter of the book, I learned that education for the deaf had made significant progress over a hundred years ago, with sign language as its central technique (Hehir, 2005). However, the forced introduction of speech and oral techniques with a ban on sign language has significantly slowed down development in this area. I was surprised that new methods were often introduced with a complete ban on the old ones, despite the tremendous and essential achievements, which is confirmed later in this book.
The central aspect of my surprise in the book was the extent of the length and complexity of achieving disability inclusion at high levels of government. The arrangement was imbued with ableism almost until the end of the 20th century until appropriate amendments were made to IDEA (Hehir, 2005). Students with disabilities were not included in standard programs, at best, because there were unknown reliable mechanisms for the accurate assessment of their performance; at worst, because they were either not necessary or not needed. However, research and practice have shown that students with disabilities began to take the standardized test much more frequently and improve their performance in education, as evidenced by the Massachusetts case (Hehir, 2005). In fact, despite the earlier achievements in the field of inclusiveness in education, it took a tremendous amount of effort, resources, attention to the problem, and time before the policy in this regard began to work as it should.
First of all, I clarified for myself the terminology of special education and its goals. First, special education is not opposed to regular education. Second, its processes are related to helping students with disabilities succeed in school (Hehir, 2005). However, the issue of terminology is indeed complex: special education does more than help develop the potential of students with disabilities, meet their needs, provide knowledge, and much more, which is often attributed to its purpose (Hehir, 2005). There is a potential for discrimination in such statements, while at first glance, the author’s ambiguous position – to reduce the impact of disability – is the most effective in the actual practice of raising a robust and helpful person (Hehir, 2005). Consequently, most of the goals outlined above are subjective tasks to achieve the primary goal in different cases.
The author presents information academically and is extremely clear for understanding. First of all, some vital term is considered, its various definitions are given from different points of view and periods. Then, each term is extrapolated to actual practice, in which the main positive and negative points are highlighted. After that, the author conveys his position and vision of how to maximize the positive impact of certain aspects. Reading becomes more and more interesting by the fifth chapter; in the sixth, the legal part of this problem is already considered. It seems that the author achieves the reader’s interest thanks to examples from actual practice and life, which are demonstrated in the most straightforward everyday language that the reader can understand. In fact, the reader begins to feel involved in the problem since the author shows students with disabilities as humanly as possible. It was this point of view, in my opinion, that the society and the authorities of that time lacked to achieve the successes in special education that have been executed quite recently.
In my opinion, the author firmly takes a position on the side of students with disabilities, balancing the long and discriminatory attitude towards them that has developed historically. At the same time, Hehir is moving away from a caring, and ongoing support perspective, which he believes is inconsistent with minimizing the impact of disability on life (Hehir, 2005). In fact, his bias can be explained by the unfair long-term treatment of the group in question, as reflected in studies demonstrating an increase in educational performance (Hehir, 2005). Otherwise, the author is not biased towards the side of students with disabilities, nor anyone else. The purpose of his book, in my opinion, is to understand the terminology and its implications and the implementation of methods, as well as to demonstrate that students with disabilities are much closer to students without disabilities than they are not.
The book increased my interest in the subject in the ways outlined above. Now I would like to find out which of the fundamental goals outlined by the author are observed in the implementation of special education in practice. Realization of student opportunities in special education should take place in the context of reducing the impact of disability and the opportunity to benefit society. I want to evaluate the methods of this type of education and pedagogical methods through the prism of these tasks to determine the most successful ones. Finally, an important point is the understanding of inclusiveness in education, which is broader but based on the most important mechanisms that lay down the values in educating students to build a healthy society.
Hehir, T. (2005). New directions in special education: Eliminating ableism in policy and practice. Harvard Education Press.