Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Education matters

While there remians much work to be done for people with Down syndrome of all ages to have access to appropriate educational opportunities, very significant developments have occurred over a single generation ... we increasingly see media reports now about college and university courses, while we continue to learn from other countries and systems, and to refine the language we use:

First cohort of Colorado students with Down syndrome starts college this fall
Jennifer Brown, Denver Post, 4 October 2016
College freshman Mia Barone’s fingers are flying in the campus library, her eyes closed as she signs the words on her study list — tomorrow, free, champion, flirting.

The 18-year-old with hot pink streaks in her hair that match her fingernails has a gift for sign language. Barone, who has Down syndrome, began learning to sign as a baby and hopes that after she graduates from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs she will work as an interpreter or children’s sign language teacher ...

Strengthening an inclusive pathway for people with intellectual disabilities and their families - key recommendation from a US report
Catia Malaquias, SWJ Included, 11 October 2016
Although this Report was prepared in relation to the American legal and policy context – which in numerous respects is different to the Australian context which is framed by the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and influenced by Australia’s ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – the Report makes many points and recommendations that resonate with the Australian experience and context ...

'He ain't special, he's my brother' - time to ditch the phrase 'special needs'
Catia Malaquias, SJW Included, 15 October 2016
I am not going to beat about the bush; every time I hear the phrase “special needs” I cringe.

To be clear, I don’t usually call people out on language unless it’s offensive but I feel strongly about this; I think it’s time that this damaging phrase, and the mentality that goes with it, is put on the scrapheap.

The phrase “special needs” is commonly used as a euphemism to refer to a person with a disability (particularly intellectual or cognitive disability and more often than not, a child) or who otherwise functions in some way that is atypical.
 If you think about the use of the adjective “special”, it has become shorthand for describing places set aside for people with disability, e.g. “special schools”, “special education units”, “special workshops”, “special homes”, etc ...

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