Developing policies that allow students with disabilities to advance in their education and gain related opportunities is a critical step in ensuring diversity and equity on a statewide level. However, the current standards for meeting the rights of students with disabilities, particularly, Section 300.7 of IDEA, tend to tether the concept of disability to limitations, therefore, incorporating the stigmatizing aspects of the current perception of disability into the legal document. In her 2000 article, Sarah L. Triano posits that the representation of disability in law, specifically, regarding the provision of equal opportunities for disadvantaged students, must be reconsidered.
The article specifies that the initiative to introduce additional opportunities for students with disabilities was launched in 1975. While being an admittedly well-meaning effort, the selected initiative has led to setting rigid definitions for a disability that ignored the needs of students with less apparent yet still meaningful impairments, therefore, failing to provide a secure and welcoming environment for all learners. Tracking down the history of the legislation, Triano explains that its current version represents the same problem of failing to embrace every possible category of disability, while also relying heavily on stereotyping (Triano 11). Therefore, to address the emerging concern, alterations to the existing approach to defining the notion of disability in the legal context are needed.
Thus, Triano insists that the situation must be changed to address the needs of students with disabilities and represent them properly in the specified legislation. Namely, the student’s dignity and humanity must be recognized in the legal document so that further steps for improving the academic setting could be made. Thus, the educational context can be adjusted to benefit learners with disabilities.
Triano, Sarah. “Categorical Eligibility for Special Education: The Enshrinement of the Medical Model in Disability Policy.” Disability Studies Quarterly, vol. 20, no. 4, 2000, pp. 1-16.