Unit II: Accessing Inclusive Education

2.1. Fundamental elements of inclusive school

2.2. Strategies for making schools inclusive

2.3. Need for Curriculum differentiations and assessment

2.4. Classroom Management and Teaching Strategies – Cooperative Learning and Peer Tutoring

2.5. Physical accessibility of schools and Universal Design Model









2.1. Fundamental elements of inclusive school

Access: Access/accessibility refers to giving equitable access to everyone regardless of human ability and experience. It refers to how organizations encompass and celebrate the characteristics and talents that each individual brings to the organization. It is about representation for all.

By consciously providing access to all opportunities, we will be able to harness the incredible pool of talent that its members bring to the organization. This will eliminate real and perceived barriers and cultivate, develop, and advance the talent pipeline.

Equity: Equity refers to an approach that ensures that everyone has access to the same opportunities. It recognizes that advantages and barriers exist and that, as a result, everyone does not start from the same place. It is a process that begins by acknowledging that unequal starting place and works to correct and address the imbalance. Equity ensures that all people have the opportunity to grow, contribute, and develop, regardless of their identity. Basically, it is the fair and just treatment of all members of a community. It requires commitment and deliberate attention to strategic priorities, resources, respect, and civility, with ongoing action and assessment of progress toward achieving specified goals.

Relevance: All over the world there is a new trend toward development of inclusive education because of its relevance for the total educational development of children with special needs. Inclusive education is practice teaching children in regular classrooms with non handicapped children to the fullest extent possible; such children may have orthopedic, intellectual, emotional, visual difficulties or handicaps associated with hearing. Inclusive education has been of increasing interest in the past decades. Research showing that many handicapped students learns better in regular than in special classes; racial imbalance existed in special education classes.

Participation: The principle of participation and inclusion aims to engage persons with disabilities in the wider society and in making decisions that will affect them, encouraging them to be active in their own lives and within the community. Inclusion is a two-way process: persons who have no disabilities should be open to the participation of persons with disabilities. 

Accessibility: The principle of accessibility aims to dismantle the barriers that hinder the enjoyment of rights by persons with disabilities. The issue concerns not just physical access to places, but also access to information, technologies, such as the Internet, communication, and economic and social life. The provision of ramps, sufficiently large and unblocked corridors and doors, the placement of door handles, the availability of information in Braille and easy-to-read formats, the use of sign interpretation/interpreters, and the availability of assistance and support can ensure that a person with a disability has access to a workplace, a place of entertainment, a voting booth, transport, a court of law, etc. Without access to information or the ability to move freely, other rights of persons with disabilities are also restricted.

Empowerment: People are empowered when they are able to claim their rights and to shape the decisions, policies, rules and conditions that affect their lives. An approach to development that is grounded in human rights treats everyone as agents of their own development. Empowerment requires opening safe spaces that enable all people, including those who have been traditionally marginalized, to have a place at the table, and participate in the shaping of the decisions, policies, rules and conditions that affect their lives.

2.2. Strategies for making schools inclusive

Universal Design for Learning: Multiple Means of Access, Expression, Engagement & Assessment

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) traces its origin to the Universal Design (UD) movement of the 1990’s. The term “universal design” was coined by architect and designer Ron Mace at the Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University. Mace and his colleagues defined UD as “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design”

If the goal of UD is the removal of barriers from the physical environment, the goal of UDL is the elimination barriers from the learning environment. As David Rose, one of UDL’s founders, has stated, “UDL puts the tag ‘disabled’ where it belongs—on the curriculum, not the learner. The curriculum is disabled when it does not meet the needs of diverse learners”

Differentiated Instructions

Differentiated instruction is an organizing structure or framework in teaching and learning which calls for a major restructuring in the classroom and curriculum, if done well, its benefits far out way the costs. “Differentiated instruction can be defined as a philosophy of teaching that is based on the premise that students learn best when their teachers accommodate the difference in readiness levels, interests and learning profiles . “Differentiated instruction is a process to teaching and learning for students of differing abilities in the same class. The intent of differentiating instruction is to maximize each student’s growth and individual success by meeting each student where he or she is and assisting in the learning process”. Differentiated instruction seeks to move away from teaching to the whole class in the same manner and addresses the needs of all learners, including those who are at risk and the gifted, through various forms of well planned, well-organized, flexible curriculum and instructional strategies.

Differentiated instruction can enable students with a wide range of abilities—from gifted students to those with mild or even severe disabilities—to receive an appropriate education in inclusive classrooms. In order to understand differentiated instruction, the principles for practicing must be articulated viz.

·        Every child can learn.

·        All children have the right to high quality education.

·        Progress for all will be expected, recognized and rewarded.

·        Learners in a classroom have common needs, distinct needs, and individual needs.

Peer Mediated Instructions

Peer-mediated support strategies involve one or more peers providing assistance to their classmates. For students with disabilities, this intervention can be an effective alternative to the use of one-to-one paraprofessionals in classrooms, clubs, and other school activities. Peer-mediated support strategies involve teaching peers to promote academic, social, and/or communication outcomes for students with disabilities by supporting skill acquisition or increasing school participation. Peers participate in orientation sessions where they learn social and academic support strategies for use within both teacher-directed and student-initiated activities. As students with and without disabilities gain familiarity with working together, school staff fade back their direct support gradually to promote student independence.

ICT for Instructions

Information and communications technologies (ICT) are a diverse set of technological tools and resources used to communicate, and to create, disseminate, store, and manage information. Communication and information are at the very heart of the educational process, consequently ICT-use in education has a long history. ICT has played an educational role in formal and non-formal settings, in programs provided by governmental agencies, public and private educational institutions, for-profit corporations and non-profit groups, and secular and religious communities.

2.3. Need for Curriculum differentiations and assessment

Curriculum differentiation is defined as the structuring of lesson plans, rubrics, etc., for specific students based on their individual aptitude. Since many schools are downsizing and combining classrooms, it is often too difficult to allow students who might be slower or faster learners than their peers to have a separate classroom and teacher.

differentiated curriculum is a learning program that, ideally, meets the academic needs and interests of every student. This means that all the teaching approaches outlined in the curriculum are flexible, so that the content being taught is digestible and refreshingly challenging for each individual child. In a class of twenty or thirty students, who will undoubtedly possess slightly different needs, interests and skills from each other, an effective differentiated program is a challenge for teachers to implement.

Equality means giving everyone equal opportunities to learn, not teaching everyone in exactly the same way.

This requires the educator two options - either teach everyone the same, inevitably either leaving the lower achieving students behind or the higher achieving students unchallenged, or find a way to differentiate the instruction in order to allow students to achieve and grow at their natural level.

Anyone who has been an educator know that there will be a large degree of variation in learning among any group of students despite their similarities in age, background, etc. Therefore, differentiation seems at least on its surface to be an obvious choice when choosing a method of instruction. However, there are some challenges to this method.

The first challenge is perceived fairness. Many students and parents may resent the idea of curriculum differentiation when it means that other students in the class must do either more or less for the same grade. This is a difficult obstacle to overcome, as our culture focuses on comparison and competition when it comes to the educational system. The best solution to this is to provide families with detailed reasoning for curriculum differentiation while trying to shift the focus away from grades in the classroom.

A second challenge of curriculum differentiation is placement. How are the aptitudes of each student measured? While instructors often have a good "feel" for the students in their courses, they need more qualitative evidence in order to really understand where each student falls concerning their learning abilities. This can be accomplished with a simple pre-test at the beginning of each course that allows the teacher to see where each student stands.

The final challenge is resources. How does one teacher in one classroom teach several students on several different lessons? This can be resolved with some preparation before the semester begins. An instructor should design a set of the curriculum on at least three different levels (possibly more depending on the expected level of differentiation of the class) before the beginning of the semester. If instructors get stumped, there are plenty of teacher resources and teacher worksheets out there online to assist in developing more than one lesson. For each class session, the teacher can start the highest level students on their requirements, then use them as in-class helpers for the students who may be a bit farther behind. This is still difficult to manage, to students should have plenty of work to do on their own, such as worksheets on the topic at hand, while a teacher may be working with an individual student or group.

A special note on curriculum differentiation for instructors that have students with learning disabilities - depending on their disability, it is often very advantageous for these students to have their own tailored instruction and the help of a teaching assistant if possible. If this is not possible, sometimes one of the students who may be further ahead in aptitude can assist in teaching these students.

Effective differentiation requires teachers to assess student status before a unit of study begins (pre-assessment), throughout the unit of study (formative or ongoing assessment), and at key ending or wrap-up points in a unit of study (summative assessment). Pre- or diagnostic assessment helps determine a student's starting point with learning targets as well as with prerequisite knowledge, understandings, and skills that are essential to continued progress in a content sequence. Pre-assessment is also useful in developing awareness about students' interests and learning preferences. Formative (ongoing) assessment lets teachers closely monitor a student's evolving knowledge, understanding, and skills—including any misunderstandings a student may have or develop about key content. As with diagnostic or pre-assessment, formative assessment also plays a role in revealing students' various interests and approaches to learning. Summative assessment evaluates a student's status with the learning targets or KUDs at designated endpoints or checkpoints in a unit of study—for example, at the end of a section of a unit, end of a marking period, end of a semester, midterm, and so on. Differentiation places particular emphasis on pre-assessment and formative assessment.

Assessment in an effectively differentiated classroom will be both informal and formal. Informal assessments include things like talking with students as they enter and leave the room, observing students as they work on a task or in groups, watching students on the playground or at lunch, asking students to use hand signals or colored cards to indicate their degree of confidence with a skill they have just practiced, or making note of informative comments made by parents at a back-to-school night. Informal assessments are useful in giving a teacher a sense of what makes a student tick, providing a big-picture look at how the class as a whole seems to be faring at a given moment, and amassing a growing sense of how specific students work in particular contexts. They are not as useful in revealing the status of each student in the class with regard to a particular learning target or set of learning targets. Formal assessments (which we discuss in greater detail later in the book) include things like surveys, quizzes, exit cards, quick-writes, homework checks, purposeful note taking about students' proficiencies, interests, or learning approaches, and so on. Unlike informal assessments, formal assessments generally provide data from all students on a particular learning target or set of learning targets that a teacher can systematically study for purposes of instructional decision making—and that a student can examine relative to important learning goals.


2.4. Classroom Management and Teaching Strategies – Cooperative Learning and Peer Tutoring

Cooperative learning is an educational approach which aims to organize classroom activities into academic and social learning 
experiences. There is much more to Cooperative Learning than merely arranging students into groups, and it has been described as "structuring positive interdependence."Students must work in groups to complete tasks collectively toward academic goals. Unlike individual learning, which can be competitive in nature, students learning cooperatively can capitalize on one another’s resources and skills (asking one another for information, evaluating one another’s ideas, monitoring one another’s work, etc.)

There are several benefits of cooperative learning structures for students with disabilities. Students with disabilities are more engaged in classroom activities where cooperative learning structures are in place compared to more traditional classroom interventions. Specifically, in inclusive classes that use cooperative learning, students articulate their thoughts more freely, receive confirming and constructive feedback, engage in questioning techniques, receive additional practice on skills, and have increased opportunities to respond. Further, when students are thinking aloud while discussing, teachers are better able to assess student and group needs and intervene if needed. That is, by actively monitoring students’ learning, teachers are able to redirect groups toward learning tasks and provide reteaching during mini-conferences as appropriate. When structures are in place for this level of dialogue to occur, it accelerates the comprehension process.

Peer Tutoring A peer is defined as the individual of the same social gathering. In an inclusive classroom peer means a fellow student. Peer tutoring, thus, means students teaching each other on one-to-one basis. So when a student from same age or class provides instruction to another student of the same age or class the technique is called peer-tutoring. This tutoring is within the class. It is also possible in some situations that an older student may tutor younger students. This is called cross-age tutoring. Sometimes, peer-tutoring may prove to be quite effective and both the tutor and the student receiving instructions, the tutee, may gain from the process. However, it is not necessary that students with special needs should always play the role of a tutee.

According to M. Dash (2001) in peer tutoring the tutor should perform four acts, such as:

·        Monitoring means supervision and regulation of the performance of a tutee;

·        Reinforcing means providing appropriate contingencies for approved behaviour. S/he may praise the tutee if s/he has completed the work to a required standard;

·        Modelling means the demonstration of a particular activity or behaviour by the peer tutor; and

·        Explaining means exposing the relationships on a topic and providing appropriate examples to clarify doubts.

2.5. Physical accessibility of schools and Universal Design Model

Disabled people encounter barriers in terms of access to the built environment or information, for example in terms of public transport, hospitals and clinics, schools and housing, shops and marketplaces, offices and factories, places of worship, media and communications and public information systems.

Most people think of the physical barriers in this category – e.g. a health clinic is inaccessible for wheelchair users if it has steps and narrow doorways. It is relatively easy to identify these – in consultation with disabled people – once aware.

Lack of accessible communications can also be disabling for those with sensory impairments – e.g. for Deaf people, if there’s no sign language; for those with visual impairments if medication isn’t appropriately labelled. Poor communication can have devastating results where important school based education campaigns happen (e.g. HIV and AIDS).

Students with hearing, visual or intellectual impairments are unlikely to access vital information unless their access needs have been met. And since 98 per cent of disabled children in developing countries don’t attend school, they’ll miss out on important education and information.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework that addresses the primary barrier to fostering expert learners within instructional environments: inflexible, “one-size-fitsall” curricula. It is inflexible curricula that raise unintentional barriers to learning. Learners who are “in the margins”, such as learners who are gifted and talented or have disabilities, are particularly vulnerable. However, even learners who are identified as “average” may not have their learning needs met due to poor curricular design.

In learning environments, such as schools and universities, individual variability is the norm, not the exception. When curricula are designed to meet the needs of an imaginary “average”, they do not address the reality learner variability. They fail to provide all individuals with fair and equal opportunities to learn by excluding learners with different abilities, backgrounds, and motivations who do not meet the illusive criteria for “average”.

UDL helps address learner variability by suggesting flexible goals, methods, materials, and assessments that empower educators to meet these varied needs. Curricula that is created using UDL is designed from the outset to meet the needs of all learners, making costly, time-consuming, and after-the-fact changes unnecessary. The UDL framework encourages creating flexible designs from the start that have customizable options, which allow all learners to progress from where they are and not where we would have imagined them to be. The options for accomplishing this are varied and robust enough to provide effective instruction to all learners.

The Three Principles

Three primary principles, which are based on neuroscience research, guide UDL and provide the underlying framework for the Guidelines:

Principle I: Provide Multiple Means of Representation (the “what” of learning). Learners differ in the ways that they perceive and comprehend information that is presented to them. For example, those with sensory disabilities (e.g., blindness or deafness); learning disabilities (e.g., dyslexia); language or cultural differences, and so forth may all require different ways of approaching content. Others may simply grasp information quicker or more efficiently through visual or auditory means rather than printed text. Also learning, and transfer of learning, occurs when multiple representations are used, because it allows students to make connections within, as well as between, concepts. In short, there is not one means of representation that will be optimal for all learners; providing options for representation is essential. 

Principle II: Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression (the “how” of learning). Learners differ in the ways that they can navigate a learning environment and express what they know. For example, individuals with significant movement impairments (e.g., cerebral palsy), those who struggle with strategic and organizational abilities (executive function disorders), those who have language barriers, and so forth approach learning tasks very differently. Some may be able to express themselves well in written text but not speech, and vice versa. It should also be recognized that action and expression require a great deal of strategy, practice, and organization, and this is another are in which learners can differ. In reality, there is not one means of action and expression that will be optimal for all learners; providing options for action and expression is essential. 

Principle III: Provide Multiple Means of Engagement (the “why” of learning). Affect represents a crucial element to learning, and learners differ markedly in the ways in which they can be engaged or motivated to learn. There are a variety of sources that can influence individual variation in affect including neurology, culture, personal relevance, subjectivity, and background knowledge, along with a variety of other factors presented in these guidelines. Some learners are highly engaged by spontaneity and novelty while other are disengaged, even frightened, by those aspects, preferring strict routine. Some learners might like to work alone, while others prefer to work with their peers. In reality, there is not one means of engagement that will be optimal for all learners in all contexts; providing multiple options for engagement is essential.

Assessment is described as the process of gathering information about a learner’s performance using a variety of methods and materials in order to determine learners’ knowledge, skills, and motivation for the purpose of making informed educational decisions. Within the UDL framework, the goal is to improve the accuracy and timeliness of assessments, and to ensure that they are comprehensive and articulate enough to guide instruction – for all learners. This is achieved in part by keen focus on the goal, as distinct from the means, enabling the provision of supports and scaffolds for construct irrelevant items. By broadening means to accommodate learner variability, UDL assessments reduce or remove barriers to accurate measurement of learner knowledge, skills, and engagement.