Did you know that around 1 billion people,15% of the world’s population, have a recognised disability?

The number of children with disabilities globally is estimated at almost 240 million (UNICEF 2021).

Disabled people and those with special needs are far more likely to live in poverty than people without additional needs. They do not have equal access to healthcare, education, or employment. There is far less representation of people with disabilities in politics or participation in decision making or in wider society.

In childhood, children with disabilities are less likely than non-disabled children to attend primary, secondary school or tertiary education. They are more likely to be illiterate and innumerate. When they are in school, it can be hard for children with disabilities to keep up with their peers educationally and socially. Children are frequently segregated so mainstream children and those with additional needs miss opportunities to learn how to interact with each other. Stigma, discrimination and negative perceptions about disability, coupled with a lack of knowledge and skills on how to include children with disabilities, create further inequalities and attitudes that continue into adulthood.   

Image shows a smiling blue character. She has the lower portion of her right arm missing.

By breaking down those stigmas and negative attitudes we not only improve the learning experience in the classroom but we are also opening the door to new perspectives on life, and new friends. By being more inclusive we can see disruptive pupils finding new, calmer ways to communicate, get involved in lessons and make new friends.

And it doesn’t have to be difficult!

For example, we know that people who are deaf, particularly those who have no or unclear speech, are frequently considered to be less intelligent. Children with hearing impairments can struggle in school because teachers are turned towards the board, or background noise in the classroom means they can’t hear instructions or distinguish individual voices. When you cannot hear what is going on, it is hard to keep up and it seems like you are not able to understand. Hearing impairment is no indicator of intelligence.

There are simple things you can do to ensure a deaf person is included in any conversation:

  • Turn your face towards them so they can see your lips
  • Speak clearly, emphasising your lip movements
  • Turn down the music or background noise
  • Take a little more time to ensure you explain clearly what is going on
  • Carry a notebook and pen to write things down

No special equipment or resources are needed!

Two blue characters are standing next to each other. The one on the left is waving, she is wearing a cochlear implant. she is wearing a yellow dress and is waving hello with her right hand. The character on the right has a hearing aid on her left ear. She is signing the letter N in british sign language.

Key Points

~ More than a fifth of people have a disability. This means there will be students in your class who have additional needs.

~ Educating students on inclusion can have massive benefits for individuals and the class as a whole

Discussion Points

~ How many students in your class need additional help?

~ What simple adjustments do you make for disabled students in your class?

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