Children with disabilities especially mental disability have continuingly been discriminated by world curriculum. Inclusive education is a curriculum that accommodates both disabled children and the non disabled in the same school environment. They are exposed to the same learning facilities. The curriculum is made to fit the needs and expectations of these two categories of children (Wehmeyer, Lattin, & Agran, 2001). There are numerous advantages that accrue to students with disability when such a system is adopted; therefore, this paper discusses access to the general curriculum for students with severe disabilities in terms of the definition of access to general curriculum and the methods that might be considered such as modification and accommodation.
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Benefits of Inclusive
Other than developing an educational background from the programs, they develop interpersonal skills as they interact with their peers. On the other hand, children without disabilities are able to develop a positive attitude towards the disabled a factor that assist the disabled to integrate in the society more easily during their schooling life and life after school. As the interaction continues, disabled develop communication skills which extend to facial and body language interpolation and understanding. The students with disabilities develop social skills and an improved self esteem. On the other hand, when they find them as not different from others in school, they develop motivation that can be of great gain in their academic life (Wehmeyer, 2003).
General Curriculum for Students with Significant
What is the access to general curriculum for students with severe disabilities?
Curriculum involves all the processes that are done in a typical day in a school environment. It starts from lateness rules set in the school to the conduct of general class activities; games and sports also form a part of the curriculum. In an inclusive education curriculum, a disabled and normal student should participate and be treated in the same way. There should be no discrimination in sharing of duties and enforcement of rules and regulations. When this happens, it assists in shaping emotional and psychological health of a disabled.
Access to general curriculum gives students with cognitive disability a chance to adhere to curriculum standards, contents, and material of the prevailing curriculum and schooling model. It gives a chance for them to fully integrate and follow the system of the cognitive upright students. Other than the student being set free to interact with their peers, educators should go a step further and ensure that cognitive disabled students maximize the advantage that they have as they interact with their peers. The educator should assist the child to develop an esteem that assists in competition with its peers. Adoption is a major problem in these set up, tutors have the task of ensuring that these student interact efficiently (Smith, 2006).
Modification and Accommodation
Modification and accommodation are terms that are used interchangeably in describing various situations in school settings. Students with disabilities cannot compete at the same platform with cognitive upright students; they require special attention and thus modification in the way classes are conducted is essential. On an inclusion system there must be accommodation and modification to ensure that both students benefit equally. Despite modification and accommodation having the same objective, they are different in the approach they take.
It means changing the curriculum so as it can accommodate all the students according to their level of understanding. It may involve ensuring that cognitive disabled student is taught on the basics alone and no much complex work is given to him / her. It targets at giving the disabled a chance to take less demanding tasks. For example they may be required to answer few questions in a test or be allowed more time than the normal time that the other students are using in the same test (Rotter, 2009). Another area is on grading; students with cognitive disability could be given a lower pass mark than their peers. The following are strategies for modification;
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It means that the guidelines and rules followed by and given to the disabled are adjusted to make them more easy to follow than other students. They include additional time for skill mastery; Braille use, late assignment submission among other ways that will make the life of the student comfortable.
This means that the assignment given to the students are reduced or simplified in a way that will make them more accommodated by the disabled. The time of submission should be checked as well as the mode of presentation; the aim is to ensure that a student submit his assignment with the best way according to his disability.
Expectation should be lowered and grading different. An example is where a test with few multiple answers is given or where a pass mark of a disabled is lowered. To ensure that the students (both normal and disabled) benefit from such an adjustment, teachers should give regular assignment depending on the student’s abilities as a way of assessing the progress made by each student. The students who perform poorly should be given more attention by helping them understand the areas that they lag behind the others. Many are the times when teachers prefer the good performing students and ignore the others (who actually need more attention).
This is concerned about how information is available for the disabled. If need be recording it for future reference should be done.
Definition of Accommodation
Accommodation means that the classroom environment is adjusted to cater for the needs of cognitive disabled students; it ensures that the structure, expectations, and some elements or total elements in class settings are adjusted to promote education of the disabled. It involves changing the learning environment to enhance learning of disabled students despite their deficiency in life. It takes deliberate efforts by administrators, tutors, and parents.
Accommodation takes different forms; they are both administrative and operational the following are forms that the strategy follows;
This is all about policies that are set by the top management that should support an inclusive system. The administrators should support the system; they are the ones who should ensure that parents and tutors understand the need for such a system and develop innovation measures to make the life of cognitive disabled students comfortable. The decision on the type of infrastructure that is adopted in the school should support the need of cognitive disabled students.
This focuses on how comfortable the learning physical environment is. It involves the classrooms that the students will be taking their classes and ensuring that they are accessible. Sitting desks also fall in this category. They should be made to accommodate the needs of such students.
Instructional and Curricular Variations
This involves what takes place inside the classroom. Here when a student is disabled, measures are taken to ensure that he benefits from lessons in class. It involves the curriculum adjusted to fit the needs of the student. Advanced notice of assignment, syllabus and different form of teaching or presenting assignment, an example is a case where lessons for such students are tapped and homework’s presented orally instead of written assignments. Time and reporting time is another area that can be adjusted to ensure that the student fits in the system.
Depending on the kind of disorder that the disabled is suffering from, he may need to report late or go home early. A good system should take care of such factors. In some cases the normal way that exams are conducted should be adjusted, these are in terms of time and the pass grades. Also electronic equipments (like computers and calculators) should be allowed in exams for the disabled. Whichever the strategy, the aim is to adjust the prevailing condition such that a cognitive disabled student is assisted to learn in the same environment with cognitive upright ones (Hitchcock et al, 2002).
The Differences between Modification and Accommodation
Either modification or accommodation the target is to ensure that cognitive disabled child is able to interact and fully participate in activities that other students are doing. They involve making their life better by understanding their condition in life and act to assist them cope with the environment presented by the school.
The only difference that they have is on the approach that each takes; accommodation means that in the prevailing conditions and standards, the needs of the disabled are taken care of. For example, the shape that sitting desks have may be modified to meet the cognitive disabled student condition. In modification the same conditions exists but expectations of the disabled are lowered than those of other students. For instance the grading may be lower than that of the peers or the duration expected to accomplish a task lengthened (Craig, et al. 2006).
Conclusion and Summary
Every child has a right to education. Children go to school to learn and to acquire the skills that they can get from their families. It would therefore be unfair and unjust if these children are discriminated against in terms of education. It is good to understand that, children have different needs and abilities and they should be handled differently if they are to succeed in life. There is a common saying that, “disability is not inability” and therefore every child should be given equal rights regardless of their physical or mental disabilities.
Modification and accommodation are terms that are used interchangeably in describing various situations in school settings. Students with disabilities cannot compete at same platform with cognitive upright students; they require special attention and hence modification in the way classes are conducted is essential. Accommodation means that the classroom environment is adjusted to cater for the needs of cognitive disabled students. Modification means changing the curriculum so as it can accommodate the entire student community according to their level of understanding. There is need to develop an inclusive syllabus since it ensures that cognitive disabled children develop high self esteem and become better people in life.
Craig, H., et al. (2006). Introduction to Special Issue on Accessing the General Curriculum What We Know and Need to Know about Accessing the General Curriculum for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities. Vol. 31, Issue no. 4. New York: Tash.
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Hitchcock, C. et al. (2002). Providing New Access to the General Curriculum Universal Design for Learning. CEC.
Rotter, A. (2009). Rekindling the Love of Learning. New York: Strategic Book Publishing.
Smith, A. (2006). Access, Participation, and Progress in the General Education Curriculum in the Least Restrictive Environment for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities. New York: Tash.
Wehmeyer, M. L., Lattin, D. L., & Agran, M. (2001). Achieving access to the general curriculum for students with mental retardation. Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, 36, 327-342.
Wehmeyer, M. (2003). Defining Mental Retardation and Ensuring Access to the General Curriculum.38 (3); 271-283. Kansas: University of Kansas.