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Sign Language Studies
American Annals of the Deaf
Around the World: Educational and Social Perspectives|
Donald F. Moores and
Margery S. Miller, Editors
Part 5: International Developments
Inclusion in an International Context
The word inclusion in an educational context is itself somewhat of a paradox.
It is frequently confounded by our concepts of earlier processes such as
mainstreaming and integration. Although authors may disagree on the exact
definition of each term and the distinctions among them, the following
explanations reflect this writer’s understanding of the consensus among most
Theory and a
- Mainstreaming was essentially a term that originated in the United States
under legal challenges for the rights of minority groups and was regulated by
the 1975 Public Law 94-142 and its reauthorization in 1997 and 2004.
Mainstreaming was concerned with the placement of children with disabilities in
a regular school setting. The term was influential and was adopted with various
interpretations by other countries, many of which do not have the constitutional
rights underpinning the original U.S. impetus for the mainstreaming movement.
- Integration implies that disabled people need to be integrated into
mainstream society, but they, rather than society or a school system, are
required to undergo more change. Definitions frequently consider the level
or degree of academic, social, or personal integration that an individual
may achieve and the circumstances that are required. Processes of
identification, assessment, ascertainment, and reviews of the integration of
children with a disability are typically found in associated education
policy and practice.
- In contrast, inclusion takes as its starting point the fact that a just
state of affairs is one in which people with a disability or difference are
included in society and, in particular, in education. The required policy
responses are broad and include a comprehensive focus on conditions for
accepting individuals and groups and supporting the participation of
children with a disability or difference in schools and their communities
Inclusion is a term and a process that is relative in its interpretations and
applications. The relativities involve the various historical, cultural, and
pedagogical traditions; social structures; medical and technical resource
availability; and the political, legal, and policy frameworks and economic
priorities that a country embraces or within which an education system or
school operates (Foster et al., 2003; Hyde, Ohna, & Hjulstad, 2006).
Inclusion may be seen as both a process of access, with associated
considerations of the conditions for participation of students, and as a
process of change in terms of the development of policy, practices, and attitudes.
It is a concept that is deeply rooted in the philosophical and pedagogical
traditions that we choose to express. The educational systems that we develop
or elaborate may be characterized, more or less, by a cycle of differentiation
and uniformity (Vislie, 2003; Wagner, 1994).