January 6

Ableism

I have been reading the book: New Directions in Education: Eliminating Ablism in Policy and Practice by Thomas Hehir. It brought up a wide variety of issues that impact educating students with disabilities. The first and most basic to the author’s perspective is ableism.

Ableism is to students with disabilities what racism is to people of different races or sexism to gender differences. Hehir defines ableism as ” deeply held negative attitudes toward disability that are analogous to racism”. According to Merriam-Webster racism is: “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race”.  In this book Hehir encourages educators to carefully consider each student individually rather than as a group of people with similar traits and capacities.

Throughout the book he encourages educators to consider all planning for students with disabilities through the lens of: minimizing the impact of the disability while maximizing the child’s ability to participate. Very much the basic goal of the UDL movement.

Hehir documents incidents that illustrate how educational policy, assumptions made about students with disabilities, and failures to differentiate instruction and assignments have compounded disabilities for students in our education system.

This book brought up so many important issues in Special Education today. It has provided me with many new blogging ideas…