Disability in Society

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Students with disability have to confront many different barriers throughout the years they spend at school. Focusing on the issues relevent to one impairment group: 1) Clearly illustrate the effect that these barriers may have on the quality of education that they receive, and 2) Suggest steps and measures that can be taken for these disabling barriers in education to be minimized.

Impairment can be defined as when one is unable to perform certain things due to being physically or mentally unfit. The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health: Children and Youth Version (ICF-CY) regards disability as neither purely biological nor social but instead the interaction between health conditions and environmental and personal factors.

Disability can occur at three levels:
an impairment in body function or structure, such as a cataract which prevents the passage of light and sensing of form, shape, and size of visual stimuli; • a limitation in activity, such as the inability to read or move around; • a restriction in participation, such as exclusion from school.

The Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) states that “persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”

In the past, students with any type of impairment have been marginalised from society. Parents did not send them to school and they spent most of their days at home hiding from society. This was especially visible in those students who suffered from a physical impairment. Being physically impaired was considered to be a stigma. Nowadays the situation has improved. Students with a physical impairment are joining local schools and are no longer being hidden at home. The mentality within society that physically impaired people are some sort of other species has started to change, and in my opinion great progress has been done. However, having said this, there are still many barriers which physically impaired students have to encounter during the days they spend at school.

Throughout the years, models of disability have been developed. Models of disability help us to understand how people with impairments experience their disability. The two most influential models of disability are the medical model and the social model. The medical model states that disabled persons need to adapt themselves in order to fit into society and society need not make any changes to accomodate the disbaled persons. Disabled persons are seen as the problem in society and they must adapt. On the other hand, the social model (which has been developed by disabled persons) argues that society is responsible for the cause of disability due to the way it is organised and to the barriers which exist which discriminates against people with impairments and excludes them from involvement and participation. Therefore the social model states that society needs to cater for the needs of the disabled and eliminate the barriers which are present.

Barriers for physically impaired people exist everywhere: at the work place, roads, shops, schools etc. I shall be focusing on barriers present at schools. Barriers which exist for physically impaired students within schools include: bullying, certain areas of the school which are not easily accessible, toilets which are not specifically designed for them, non inclusive education, other students do not integrate with him etc. All these barriers will obviously have an effect on the quality of education that a student with a physical impairment, such as Spina Bifida, will receive.

In the case of bullying, it is quite obvious that the disabled student will not be enjoying his time at school. This will be making life at school hell for the student in a wheelchair. The student will thus not...
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