Part D: Inclusive Education with guest Gary Kerridge

What does inclusive education mean to you?

I have a lived experience of disability, being deaf. Deafness is one of the most socially isolating of all disabilities, particularly in environments that are designed for hearing students with little thought for those with other needs. 

Usually what this means is that it is not until a student enrols into a course of learning that action is taken to make learning inclusive.  This means the student with a disability is often playing catch up and left behind.

So, for me, inclusive education is a responsively designed education that considers the needs of a variety of students and adapts seamlessly when the student with a disability enrols. That universal design component is crucial.

This means you don’t just provide adjustments – but all the people within the learning environment, particularly the teachers, are aware (or at least made aware) of how their behaviours and strategies need to change so that the student with a disability can have maximum inclusion.

This must ensure that students with a disability get access to peer learning and are fully involved in all discussions, debates, questions and interactions. The peer learning is often overlooked and needs a much heavier emphasis. Currently it gets very little focus in discussions around inclusion for students with a disability.


What are some ways you have worked to make education inclusive for all? Tell us about it? 

To be really honest, self-advocacy has had to be the way that I have made education more inclusive. It is just a reality that very few people understand inclusion. For many, it just providing interpreters, captioning, notes or assistive technology. It ends there. But as I alluded too, in the answer to my first question, inclusion is much, much more than that. It has always been my responsibility to educate the people around me about ways to make education, the workplace or social activities inclusive.

This requires a very high level of assertiveness and confidence. It is not something that all people with a disability have. As a person who supports people with a disability, one of the best strategies is teaching them the ‘disability specific’ life skills that they need, to be properly included in this world.

This involves not just knowing what technology is available, but how to use it, and in different situations.  This can be one-on-one, within groups, out in the field or online. It also involves knowing your legal rights and using the law, as much as possible, to get what you want.

This strategy will not work for all, but there are a large number of people with a disability who have never had an opportunity to learn these ‘disability specific’ skills – which are so vital for self-advocacy.

The world is very unlikely to learn or change – unless we people with a disability, know what we need to make it inclusive. Sadly, it nearly always starts with a person with disability educating other people and changing an environment to make it inclusive.

This self-advocacy and the learning of ‘disability specific’ life skills need more focus in preparing people with disability for life in a world not designed for them.


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Tags: Dignity Project, Disability, Dignity, Inclusive Education

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