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Carol Ashey

ENGL 491
Dr. Land
Oct. 1, 2014

Installment 4
Today, under IDEA, the law requires that children with disabilities are entitled to a free public
education, preferably in the LRE or least restrictive environment. The LRE is usually intended to mean
public school, where the law requires that all schools have some form of accessibility for their students
with disabilities or special needs. Normally, the special education section of the school is in a secluded
corner that most people dont know exist. Some students with special needs are integrated into the
mainstream or regular classes, depending on their development level and intellectual ability.
When I was in elementary school, I was in what the school called self-contained classes with
other students who were deaf and hard of hearing. In middle school and high school I was
mainstreamed into the regular classes with my hearing peers.
The current debate that DS (Disability Studies) holds with education partially revolves around
the inclusion process, which is currently implemented in American public schools. Inclusion states that
all students, including those with disabilities, should be included with their able bodied peers in the
same classes. This choice is based on fostering community between students, as well as tolerance of
differences. In the case of disability, the goal of inclusion is to make disability less frightening and
unknown. In short, if people interact with others who have disabilities on a daily basis, then people
with disabilities are less scary to be around.
This is a lofty goal and a very idealistic one. Being an idealist myself, I cheered when I first read
about that in my EDUC 350 text book. However, as I thought about it and remembered my own
experiences, I realized that inclusion doesnt work; at least not in all cases. In the book Creating Inclusive
Classrooms, the book stated a statistic that inclusion involving students with disabilities more successful
in the Primary grades than in the Secondary grades as students in elementary school were generally

more accepting of students with disabilities, who were different from them. This wasnt the case in
high school as students tended to migrate towards the various social groups that are most like them
readeveryone wants a place to belong.
I agree for the most part that inclusion doesnt work in high school. I myself wanted a place to
belong, and I found a part of that by being involved in theatre. In general though, I was my own person
and didnt want to be stereotyped into any one group. One of the problems with the way that special
education is set up in the schools, is that they are physically isolated from the rest of the school, which
inhibits inclusion and leads back to institutionalized thinking, which, according to DS scholars is part of
the ableist attitude towards people with disabilities.
Personally, I think it depends on the disability of whether or not inclusion works. Take, for
instance, being d/Deaf or hard of hearing (HH). If you have grown up using ASL and have many Deaf
friends, then you want to be around them and learn through the medium of sign language. Sitting in a
classroom filled with hearing people while you watch the interpreter as the only Deaf student in the
class doesnt sound very inclusive to you. You may go to this school with some of your other deaf
peers, but you do not have any classes together, and the only time you see each other during the day is
at lunch and before and after school. Being in a school where everyone uses ASL, including the teachers,
sounds much more accommodating.
While this scenario does provide interaction between the Deaf and Hearing worlds, I think it is a
more appropriate form to educate d/Deaf students at schools for the d/Deaf. Obviously, my own
education did not go this way. The self-contained classes of elementary school were isolating for me
because I spoke like a hearing person versus my more deaf speaking classmates. From middle school
onward I was the only HH person in the school; at least I thought that until my senior year of high school
when I learned there was another HH girl in the school who was taking the same ASL class as me.

Knowing that I hadnt been the only one frustrated me because I had missed out on a potential
I like to think that, had my parents been informed about all of the educational options for my
and how my hearing loss impacts spoken communication, I would have gone to a school for the Deaf
and become fluent in ASL, and accepted that part of myself; rather than learning about it and struggling
with it later on. Also, had I been tested as a child and known about my cognitive disability, I like to think I
would have had an easier time with school in general and would have a less harsh opinion of
The other problem I have with the inclusion process is that, while it works in an ideal world
where peoples differences are accepted, and differing educational needs are met, if the teacher has to
teach students of all kinds with different learning styles and different paces, then inclusion makes this a
nightmare. It would end up in the horrific area of teaching to the middle, where to save time the
teacher teaches to those who are average paced, but those who learn slower are left behind, and those
who learn faster are left bored with nothing to do.
In my ideal case, I think I would have had the best education where the pace was slow and oneon-one with mathematics, high functioning and fast with English, and regular paced with all the other
subjects. A question that has arisen as I approach my time of Student teaching is how am I going to
accommodate myself as a teacher with a hearing loss and a cognitive disability? In my classroom, I
intend to set up the desks in either a circle or a horse shoe so everyone can see one another, and so I
can read their lips. If I am at the board and a student has a question, I will not understand them from
behind, so they will have to wait until I am facing them to ask a question. For staff meetings, I will
require a captionist, so I can follow along and not get lost.
As I have made friends here at Gardner-Webb who also have disabilities, in talking with them
and through my own observations, I have learned how still non accessible the world is. Yes, there are

ramps and automatic doors for people with physical disabilities and there are closed captions on
television and in some movie theatres, but they are not always conveniently placed and in the case of
captions are not always advertised.