The Power of Inclusive Education

– Well, it certainly wasn’t
something I thought about growing up, or in college
in Ann Arbor Michigan, none of this came to the
forefront till I had a child with a disability. (upbeat piano music) Part of what we need to do
is come up with a vision for what was his life gonna be like? And my wife and I thought
long and hard about that, and the thing that kept
coming to the forefront, is that he would feel like he belonged. Think of who you are as a
person, now, you have a job, but you also have hobbies,
and interests, and passions, and a lot of that was formed growing up, not just through the academic
experience of school, but through the social and
emotional experience of school. Being with lots of different
kinds of kids, and people, and learning to be challenged
in your presumptions, and learning that diversity
is a broad spectrum of people. Unless you live that
diversity day in and day out, I don’t think you ever grasp that, and I don’t think you ever
develop socially and emotionally the way that you need to. To belong when you’re a child
that uses a wheel chair, that has a significant speech disorder, and other challenges, you
need to be in a community that believes that all people
belong in your schools, in your extra curricular activities, that all kids can learn, that
all kids can go on to college, and when you think about
that level of accessibility, you’re talking about
every part of our society. So, thankfully we’re in a
community that believes that kids with disabilities
belong in general education because 30 years of research
shows that inclusive education for kids with
disabilities yields better outcomes academically, socially,
in terms of their jobs, in terms of their access to college. (happy music) Access, accessibility,
inclusivity, has to be a lens that you start from the very
beginning, when you’re thinking about what software to
purchase, how do you write code, who do you work with on your
team, can we bring in a more diverse team of people
to think about this, can we beta test our projects
with people who have different challenges and different abilities? Once you have that lens of
inclusivity and accessibility, you start looking at all
different aspects of our society and saying hmm, is this really designed in the best possible way? Is it the most universally
designed technology? I think that IT folks,
first they have to have that motivation, they have to
believe that college is a place for all learners, and there
are increasingly students of all different kinds of
abilities and disabilities going to college. They’re actually 270
programs around the country at universities that are
specifically geared towards bringing more students with disabilities into the college environment. So, once you have that
lens and that motivation, then you think, how am I
gonna universally design the technology from the beginning, especially when you have
the opportunity to take on new projects and build new infrastructure, if that’s your lens from the
beginning, you’re gonna save so much work in terms of
trying to retrofit down the line to meet new ADA requirements, or new accessibility requirements. (upbeat banjo music)

2 thoughts on “The Power of Inclusive Education”

  1. Yes. This. We affirm that universal design for learning means we need to use a sharper "lens" of accessibility and diversity – and that means more success for all of us involved in that learning/teaching experience. It also enriches the culture and community that embraces this approach.

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