Children with disabilities have been recognized as one of the ‘at risk’ groups for a long time; in particular, ‘at risk’ is the term commonly used to identify special categories of children, and also, it carries quite a strong emotional and intuitive connotation (Moore, 2006).
However, education for children with disabilities is a relatively new issue that has appeared eventually as the society grew to develop a more liberal and egalitarian view on the place of the individuals with disabilities. In particular, less than a century ago, people with disabilities used to be excluded and isolated from the rest of the society as severely ill and unfit to function alongside their peers without disabilities (Shonkoff & Meisels, 2000). Sadly, the interventional and educational programs for the individuals with special needs only started to be developed and implemented during the 1960s; however, the pattern of isolation continued to persist (Shonkoff & Meisels, 2000).
Today, in the USA, the number of schools embracing inclusive education varies from one state to another; in particular, among the children with autism, the rate of inclusion is about 37% (Heasley, 2014). However, this percentage shows an average number collective of all states, whereas in Iowa the actual rate of inclusion is as high as 62% and in Washington D.C. it is only 8% (Heasley, 2014). The general percentage of inclusion for children with disabilities is rather low even though it has been steadily rising over the last ten years. As a result, the problem of barriers to inclusive education is rather significant and needs creative and fast solutions helping to foster the further improvement in the area and the increase in the number of included learners.
The problem of barriers to inclusive education was recognized globally in 1994, when the representatives of ninety-two governments and authorities from twenty-five international organizations gathered in Salamanca, Spain to discuss the problems related to inclusion in education and work out an appropriate policy for their minimization. As pointed out by Miles (2000), the Salamanca Statement specified that “every child has a fundamental right to education, and must be given the opportunity to achieve and maintain an acceptable level of learning” (para. 10).
Moreover, in the Statement, it was recognized that it is one of the major objectives of the education systems to provide the children with the required quality and type of education regardless of how different and unique their learning styles and abilities can be (Miles, 2000).
In that way, it is possible to name the need for inclusive education as one of the superior requirements for the modern education systems functioning across the globe and the one in place in the United States. Moreover, according to Opertti (2008), the representative of The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), inclusive education is a way towards the formation of an inclusive society and the elimination of isolation and alienation patterns faced by children and adults with disabilities. In addition, it is also underlined that governments and researchers play a very significant role in the development of the inclusive educational system (Opretti, 2008).
Also, the problem is that there exists a set of barriers preventing the adoption of inclusive education in many schools around the United States. In particular, such barriers involve physical and mental barriers that are expressed in the lack of the educational institutions’ preparedness to host children with disabilities, as well as the community’s attitudes leading to the alienation of the latter learners. Also, they can manifest as educational barriers such as the lack of proficiency allowing the teachers to deliver inclusive education and the presence of curriculums unfit for the diverse learners.
Moreover, there exist administrative barriers in the form of the prevention of successful inclusion by entire organization of the present educational system, the lack of necessary funding, and the expectations from the learners that to not allow the children with disabilities to fit in the school environments (Murphy, 2015).
Some of the barriers mentioned above can be addressed locally in the schools, and some require the participation of the governments. Since schools and communities tend to vary based on the components creating their individual barriers to inclusive education, it is important to research and analyze each particular school or district in regard to the aspects that serve as the contributing factors preventing the development of the inclusive education there.
There exists a broad scope of questions that could be asked for the purpose of researching different aspects and sides of inclusive education and the issues that surround it. In particular, the proposed research could focus on the problems and barriers that prevent the development of inclusive education at national, state, and local levels. The research would target a specific community and aim at exploring the obstacles to inclusion that exist there, the rates of current inclusion, and the experiences of the learners with disabilities who attend this school and have to face and overcome the existing obstacles. In that way, the research questions will be the following:
- What are the general barriers to inclusive education, their causes, and outcomes?
- What are the specific barriers typical to the selected community?
- How do the existing barriers impact the current learners with disabilities in this community?
Heasley, S. (2014). Report: Inclusion on rise in nation’s schools. Web.
Miles, S. (2000). Enabling inclusive education: Challenges and dilemmas. Web.
Moore, K. A. (2006). Defining the term “at risk”. Web.
Murphy, P. (2015). The biggest barriers to inclusive education. Web.
Shonkoff, J. P., & Meisels, S. J. (2000). Handbook of early childhood intervention. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Oppretti, R. (2008). Inclusive education: The way of the future. Web.