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Integration vs Inclusion, the role of ICT accessibility in education system

Inclusion = good teaching for ALL!

Inclusion + integration = Best teaching practices for reaching ALL!

The right to education is one of the most important rights in international human rights law. Education works as a multiplier since it in turn enables all people including persons with disabilities to exercise other human rights. It enhances both economic, social and cultural rights.

Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) states that persons with disabilities have a right to education which they must be able to exercise on the basis of equal opportunity. For that the Convention requires that there must be an inclusive education system at all levels and lifelong learning.
Inclusive education provides a platform for countering stigmatization and discrimination. It also enables persons with disabilities, who typically suffer from disproportionately higher rates of unemployment, to fully participate in society, in addition an inclusive approach to education would enable all students to access and exercise the fundamental right to education.

Some students are excluded from joining the educational system on the basis of an impairment, without any other education opportunity provided. Others are sent to schools designed to respond to a particular impairment, usually in a special-education system, and are thus segregated from the other students.

Integration vs Inclusion
There is controversy and many questions about the Integration vs. Inclusion
What do we mean by integration and inclusion?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of each approach? 
Can one approach be justified for children and adults or should the severity of a student’s disability determine the approach?
Where a student with disabilities belongs?
Is it applies to schools and children, or also to adults with disabilities? 
Inclusion is not the same as integration! Inclusion is often confused with integration! knowing these differences can help teachers in education system, and help advocate for an inclusive environment that will help all students with disabilities learn.

Inclusion is 100% placement in general education and must be about making the system adapt to each students with disabilities. Students with disabilities of all ages being educated in mainstream education settings alongside their nondisabled peers, where there is a commitment to removing all barriers to the full participation of everyone as equally valued and unique individuals.

Integration requires to adjust to an education system, students with disabilities are educated partially in a special education program. Students with disabilities being placed in mainstream education settings with some adaptations and resources, but on condition that learner with disability can fit in with pre-existing structures, attitudes and an unaltered environment and physical presence of a student  with disability.
This may mean specialized classes or segregated group activities outside of mainstream classes in an education setting. It can also mean a person with disability being in a mainstream class but having a separate program or not enjoying the same social and learning outcomes as other class members.

Is ICT accessibility in the education system paves the way to integration? Or to Inclusion? Or solution to both?
Learners with disabilities being “integrated into a regular classroom”
Learners with disabilities being “included into a regular classroom"
ICT accessibility removes the difference between integration and inclusion.
Recently, many improvements have been undertaken to adapt teaching and learning environments for the inclusion and integration and to make them more adaptable and relevant to the diverse needs of learners with disabilities. By creating accessible, barrier-free and inclusive learning. ICT accessibility is a growing field of interest and offers unprecedented possibilities to ensure the right to inclusive and integrate education.
Accessible ICT have the potential to provide students with disabilities unprecedented levels of access to education, skills training and employment (inclusion), as well as the opportunity to participate in the economic, cultural and social life of their communities (Integration).
Without access to ICT, which include assistive technologies or specially developed ICT accessibility, learners with disabilities are disenfranchised and are denied equal access to education, culture, and everyday services.
The use of ICT accessibility in the education allow the removal of many of the remaining barriers faced by learners with disabilities in their schools or universities. ICT increasingly integrated into every aspect of the modern world, these ubiquitous technologies have become a positive force of transformation to inclusion and/to integration and a crucial element of any personal development and empowerment.
Report of World Bank, Education for All: the Cost of Accessibility, 2005, Washington” pointed out the  costs should not be a significant barrier to accessible design. Indeed, research has demonstrated that the cost of accessibility is generally less than 1 per cent of total construction costs. One critical factor which does increase costs is the introduction of accessibility features too late in the process, or designs and construction which are poorly managed. Early planning is therefore crucial.
The requirements apply when building new or making planned significant alterations to existing public spaces on and after that date. This allows organizations to include accessibility right at the beginning, in the earliest stages of planning and design.
In this context what is the meaning of accessible education approach and teaching support services. Providing accessible education does not just mean securing physical and mobility access but also to promote accessibility in the education for integration and inclusion . For example, teacher training curriculum should be include the basics and principles of inclusive education and focus on accessibility to improvement of classrooms.
Using ICT accessibility can improve teaching and learning of students with disabilities in education, they will be influenced by the quality of teachers, the teaching methods employed, the extent to which they are engaged as actors in their own education, the availability of the necessary teaching aids and resources, and the willingness to remove the barriers which impede their attendance.
However, in many cases, all mechanisms aimed at ensuring equal access to education of learners with disabilities, it should be recognized that accessibility is a condition and not the final aim of inclusion or integration, and that education based on the best interests of students and on their relations with others must always be the central pedagogical approach,  and we should not forget the role of governments in adopt legislative and other appropriate measures to ensure the full realization of the right to education of students with disabilities by providing accessible education on the basis of equal opportunity, accessibility and inclusiveness, and directed to the development of their personality, talents and mental and physical abilities.
Support national initiatives addressing the rights of learners with disabilities, both financially and technically, as well as to enhance effective international cooperation and partnership to strengthen knowledge-sharing and capacity-building on the rights of students with disabilities in programme development, research and professional training.

Nabil Eid
Telecentre Foundation
ICT Accessibility & Telecentre Foundation, MIDDLE EAST SPECIALIST
Twitter: @nabileid1 

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