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Inclusion is a term used in general education to refer to the placement students with and without disabilities together in the same classroom settings (Mittler, 2012). There are disagreements regarding whether children with visual and hearing impairments should be included in the general education system in Qatar. This issue has been discussed in the academic field for many years and has led to mixed reactions and heated debates regarding the issue. Proponents of inclusion argue that it enhances the creation of friendships, increases access to curriculum materials, and promotes the acquisition of knowledge and skills (Rapp & Arndt, 2012).
On the other hand, opponents argue that it results in poor academic outcomes because teachers might lack the skills to deal with inclusion effectively (Rapp & Arndt, 2012). In Qatar, inclusion is an education policy. The Supreme Education Council aims to provide all students with supportive, balanced, and broad environments that facilitate learning (Supreme Education Council, 2009). However, inclusion is a bad approach to the education of students with visual and hearing impairments.
One of the reasons for rejecting inclusion in general education is the limitations o an inclusive education system. Children with visual and hearing impairments have special needs that require teachers with specialized needs to address them effectively (Rapp & Arndt, 2012). Their academic progress is primarily determined by the quality of specialized help and attention they receive. The main disadvantage of including these students in the general education system is that many teachers do not possess the knowledge and skills necessary to take care of their specialized needs (Mittler, 2012). On the other hand, these students need a lot of time to be dedicated to their academic needs.
Many teachers have limited time and expertise, and therefore, inclusion is not a viable plan. Children with special needs need a lot of attention and patience because their learning capabilities do not match those of regular students (Rapp & Arndt, 2012). Teachers may be unwilling to work with them because of their limitations. On the other hand, students with disability might feel discouraged when they see other students excelling and performing better than them. This can have severe academic consequences.
Students with visual and hearing impairments need several services. For instance, teachers need to use specialized teaching strategies that address their disabilities (Rapp & Arndt, 2012). To receive a high-quality education, people with the aforementioned disability should be taught using methods and techniques that address their special needs. Teachers should use a variety of methods to enhance reading, writing, and acquisition of specific skills. For example, teachers can use braille, computer-generated speeches, low vision aids, and hearing equipment to teach (Mittler, 2012). On the other hand, the utilization of large print materials is important for visually impaired students.
These methods need specialized training and a lot of time to use them effectively. Mixing disabled and normal kids is disadvantageous because of their different academic needs and learning capabilities. Teachers need to help blind and deaf students to acquire the skills necessary for the utilization of technologies that enhance learning (Rapp & Arndt, 2012). Numerous technologies have been developed to aid blind and deaf students to access information and learn. These technologies should be provided to them both in school and at home. Providing these technologies ensures that they can participate actively in learning and other non-academic activities.
Another important service is the acquisition of orientation and mobility skills that can enhance their activities in school and out of school. The main goal of education is to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary for survival in life (Gaad, 2010). Disabled students need the skills and knowledge that enable them to perform their activities without always needing assistance from other people. To achieve this goal, these students need specialized help hence the argument that inclusion of deaf and blind students in general education is wrong. These skills are important because once they graduate from school, disabled students need to get jobs, create families, and participate in community activities (Mittler, 2012). This is only possible if they receive specialized training in school.
The inability of blind and visually impaired children to move independently and carry out daily activities without assistance presents limitations that affect their participation in school. Also, it affects their ability to seek employment because many workplaces do not have facilities and amenities that cater to their needs (Gaad, 2010). The best period to teach orientation and mobility skills to children with visual and hearing impairments is when they are in school. Orientation and mobility services should be specialized for disabled people and therefore, cannot be taught properly in inclusion settings (Rapp & Arndt, 2012).
An important service that blind and deaf students need is moral support from other students and teachers. One of the disadvantages of inclusion is that there is a possibility of harassment and ridicule from students without disabilities. In normal classroom settings, deaf and blind students have limited opportunities to learn and develop basic life skills because of ridicule and harassment. The main benefit of rejecting inclusion is that disabled students receive specialized teaching and avoid the pain experienced in the general education system (Gaad, 2010). Schools need to implement policies that address the needs of disabled students. For instance, inclusion is disadvantageous to deaf students because communication is very important in the social and cognitive development of students.
Research has shown that hearing-impaired students benefit the most when they attend schools for hearing impaired people (Rapp & Arndt, 2012). These schools have a common culture and language that everyone shares and understands. In general education classroom settings, deaf and blind students miss out on certain important aspects of learning such as a sense of belonging as well as verbal and visual interaction (Gaad, 2010). According to research studies, social, cognitive, and emotional development is limited by strained communication (Gaad, 2010). Inclusion encourages strained communication because students are unable to communicate freely and effectively due to differences in their learning and physical capabilities.
In Qatar and other parts of the world, it is illegal to exclude students with disabilities from the general educations system. The Supreme Educational Council is a great proponent of inclusive education and works hard to ensure that the educational services in Qatar comply with international standards (Supreme Education Council, 2009). One of the most important international best practices about the education of blind and deaf students is the provision of services that enhance their mobility and learning. Schools should provide sign-language interpreters, captions, visual aids, and assistive technology to enhance learning (Rapp & Arndt, 2012).
Students with visual and hearing impairments need instruction on how to effectively use assistive technology. This could have positive effects on their confidence ad self-esteem both in and out f school. They need to b taught skills that address their needs that originate from their disabilities. On the other hand, assistive technology services should also be offered to disabled children at home. Providing these services at home and in other settings ensures the continuity of learning (Gaad, 2010). It is difficult to provide and use assistive technology under inclusion settings because of the varied methods of learning and teaching used for disabled students and normal students.
For example, sign-language interpreters are not needed to teach students without disabilities. Including them in normal classroom settings interferes with the optimal learning of normal students because of the need to be patient and slow down to accommodate the needs of disabled students. It is better and more effective to create special classes and curriculum for students with disabilities.
Children with disabilities should be provided with specialized training because their learning capabilities have several limitations (Gaad, 2010). For example, children with cognitive disabilities find mobility difficult, and therefore, their education should include travel training. Specialized training prepares people with disabilities for school life and post-school life (Gaad, 2010). For instance, employment and independent living require disabled people to possess certain skills that enhance their survival. Inclusion settings are ineffective in the education of people with disabilities because people with impairments need to be taught many skills that people without disabilities learn on their own (Rapp & Arndt, 2012).
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For instance, they must be taught compensatory skills such as listening modalities that normal children usually learn on their won. Combining them with children without impairments affects their learning and their living because school is an important period in their lives. Every child has a right to learn in the least restrictive environment that enhances learning and that promotes the attainment of positive academic outcomes (Supreme Education Council, 2009). The general education classroom creates a restrictive environment for children with disabilities because it does not provide an optimal setting for learning.
On the other hand, incorporating disabled children in general classroom settings creates disruptions that affect the learning of other students (Rapp & Arndt, 2012). Full inclusion lowers the standards of learning because teachers adopt several teaching strategies and methods to cater to the various learning needs of students. Also, important services such as speech therapy adapted physical education, and occupational therapy is not provided to students who need them because general education teachers lack the skills and knowledge to handle children with disabilities (Gaad, 2010).
The critical issue of inclusion in general education has been debated for many years without consensus. It has created disagreements and elicited heated debates among parents, teachers, and education administrators. In Qatar, the Supreme Education Council supports inclusion and empowers schools to create supportive environments that facilitate the education of children with disabilities. However, inclusion has many disadvantages and should be rejected as an option in the education of people with disabilities.
Students with disabilities have unique learning needs and capabilities. Therefore, they need specialized education and training. Schools need to create special education programs for people with disabilities because of other special learning needs. General education teachers lack the skills and knowledge necessary to cater to the needs of children with disabilities. Incorporating them into general education settings affects their learning negatively and compromises their social and cognitive development. It is inappropriate to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach in education because students have varying learning needs and capabilities.
Gaad, E. (2010). Inclusive Education in the Middle East. New York, NY: Routledge.
Mittler, P. (2012). Working Towards Inclusive Education: Social Contexts. New York, NY: Routledge.
Rapp, W. H., & Arndt, K. L. (2012). Teaching Everyone: An Introduction to Inclusive Education. New York, NY: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company.
Supreme Education Council. (2009). Additional Educational Support Needs: A Pack of Policies, Guidance and Support Materials for Schools. Doha: Supreme Education Council of Qatar.