Inclusion of Intellectual Disabilities in Employment and Education
Miller and Katz (2002) defined inclusion as: “a sense of belonging: feeling respected, valued for who you are; feeling a level of supportive energy and commitment from others so that you can do your best.” It is about respecting each individual/person, giving them equal access to services and supports and removing discrimination and other barriers in order for a person to reach their full potential. Inclusion of people with disabilities into day to day activities includes practices and policies designed to identify and remove barriers such as physical, communication, and attitudinal, that hinders a person’s ability to fully participate in society, the same as people without disabilities. Inclusion involves a person getting fair treatment from other people and also others being non discriminative. It is also paramount that products, communications, and the physical environment are adapted to ensure that many different people can use it. Additionally, Items, procedures and systems need to be modified to enable a person with a disability to use them to the maximum extent possible. As a society we need to eliminate the belief that people with disabilities are unhealthy or less capable of doing things than people who don’t have a disability. This stereotype is unfair and untrue.
Education is about enabling a person, in line with their abilities, to live full and independent lives so that they can contribute to their communities, cooperate with other people and continue to learn throughout their lives. Education is about supporting a person to develop in all aspects of their lives spiritual, moral, cognitive, emotional, imaginative, aesthetic, social and physical. In education the idea of inclusion is that everyone should be able to use same facilities, take part in the same activities, and enjoy the same experiences including people who have a disability or a disadvantage. Many schools across Ireland have a strong culture of inclusion of students with special needs or a disability. There is approximately 8,000 pupils with disabilities enrolled in 114 Special Schools around Ireland. In my opinion in order to make equality and inclusiveness happen in education for people with intellectual disabilities the government need to identify and address the barriers that people with intellectual disabilities face on a day to day basis such as Lack of resources: a high proportion of children and adults with disabilities have particular needs which must be met in order to enable them to participate in education on the same level as students who do not have a disability. Not all the accommodations required cost money but the lack of adequate funds to meet the needs of people with disabilities, whether in mainstream or in specialist schools, is the single greatest barrier to their educational participation. Furthermore, people’s attitudes towards people with an intellectual disability needs to change and this is because the lack of awareness about disability issues and the negative stereotyping of people with disabilities still create barriers for people with disabilities. Additionally, there is a large amount of parents who encounter difficulties in having an appropriate educational plan drawn up for their son or daughter who have intellectual disabilities. Finally, there is a lack of appropriate curricula to respond to individual needs: this can be seen by the large number of adults with disabilities who, despite going through the school system, continue to have numeracy and literacy difficulties. There is also a lack of support services for people with disabilities in education. Such services range from information, advice and guidance to psychologists and specialist teachers.
Employment and training are paramount for people with disabilities in order to achieve economic and social independence. Unfortunately, people with disabilities are at a disadvantage in this area compared to the rest of society. Their abilities and their potential contribution to the economic and social development of Ireland have yet to be positively recognized. Even though a person with intellectual disabilities may find it hard to get a job or find their job difficult the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection funds a range of employment supports aimed at helping employees with a disability to gain and retain employment. The grants are the Interpreter Grant, the Personal Reader Grant, the Employee Retention Grant Scheme and the Workplace Equipment/Adaptation Grant. Other supports for employers include the Wage Subsidy Scheme and the Disability Awareness Training Support Scheme. There is also many services for support including the Irish association of supported employment. Supported employment is a system designed to support people with disabilities, and other groups that are marginalized from society, who want to be part of the workforce, to find and keep a job. Supported employment helps both employers and employees as many companies/businesses want to build diversity in their workforce. The IASE is an association that raises awareness and promotes, supported employment to jobseekers, employers, policy makers and the general public. Supported employment is the concept of empowerment, social inclusion, dignity and respect for individuals. A Supported Employment Agency may be able to help with training for managers, supervisors and employees who have not worked with people with a disability before and help them to understand and give information in order for them to be well informed. Ensuring that work colleagues understand and are aware that limited interaction or a reluctance to take part in out-of-work social activities is not misinterpreted as being unfriendly. People with learning disabilities may have very little experience of social interaction and/or may be worried about things like how would they get home from the pub or will I be able to hold a conversation etc. These barriers can be helped if colleague are made aware.
In my opinion the importance of employment cannot be underestimated. Being an employee, colleague. Or contributor is a key social role that will help a person with an intellectual disability gain self-confidence and make them feel a part of society. Although ,there are still a number of objections to hiring people with disabilities which include not having the correct accommodation for a persons with a disability , a company requires a specific expertise , requires extensive job modifications and no business benefits. These barriers can be removed to enable people with disabilities to be true citizens of the world and actively included in society.
Taking part in a recreation sport can have a major role in the lives of many people, including people with disabilities, whether as participants, organisers or as spectators. Sport can also be a great way of integrating people with disabilities into society. There have been numerous people with physical, sensory and learning disabilities who have done Ireland proud at home and abroad for many years. Many hold European and world records from the Paralympics and the Special Olympics. Their dedication and training is equal to that of other sports people competing at those levels. People with intellectual disabilities get little or no acknowledgement of their achievements in the media and it is only in recent years that some of these athletes have become members of mainstream clubs. There is not a lot of funding to properly help athletes to compete internationally. Many athletes with disabilities have to raise their own funds to be able to compete. Few, if any, of them qualify for elite athletic grants given to some of their able bodied peers. This must change so that people with disabilities, wherever they live, can participate in the sport of their choice at the highest level at which they can compete.
There many ways in order to make sure a person with a disability can be a part of a sport or leisure activity which include the government making funding available to every Irish athlete so that they will be able to compete internationally on an equal footing with those of many other countries. Ireland has applied to host the Special Olympics early in the next century and we hope that the Government will actively support and promote this applications it will make awareness for people who have intellectual disabilities in Ireland. Hopefully, proper and adequate funding will be made available to ensure that Ireland could host such an event. Every effort must be made to facilitate people with disabilities who are interested in sports as spectators. Major venues should not be inaccessible to people with physical or sensory disabilities nor should it be acceptable to have only a corner of stadiums set aside for wheelchair users and no facilities at all for people with other disabilities. Planning permissions should not be granted to any sporting body for renovations or new buildings unless they include proper facilities for people with disabilities. Elsewhere in Europe, these include commentaries in sections of stands to assist those with visual impairments. Discussions should take place with the Council for the Status of People with a Disability to ensure that proper, adequate and safe facilities are made available to all people with disabilities.
Participation in community life is vital for health and wellbeing, promoting a sense of belonging, networks of social support and opportunities for physical activity. Disabled people have lower levels of mobility and participation in recreational activities (physical, social and cultural), education and employment, than their peers without disabilities. This has implications for their health and wellbeing and life course opportunities. Previous research on the participation levels of disabled people has primarily relied on parent/caregiver reports and been oriented to home and school environments.
To ensure a person with disabilities is not socially isolated they should think about getting involved in the community, most local community centers organise classes and outings for those in the area. They should be classes or workshops such as a cooking class or a woodwork workshop, it’s would be a great excuse to get out of the house and for people to meet likeminded people in the community .The person may also learn a new skill. Volunteering is also a great way to for people with intellectual disabilities to make friends and also make a difference. They should also be support for people with intellectual disabilities if they want to get out and about, even small things like going for a walk in a local park or having a coffee in a nearby cafe is a good way for them to feel more connected.
In conclusion, I have spoken about the importance of inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities in society. I have focused on education, employment, social and sport leisure activities. There is numerous barriers a person with intellectual disabilities have to face to get access to education employment etc, on a day to day basis which include Information barriers: One of the major barriers faced by people with disabilities when accessing public services is the lack of accessible information. Lack of accessible transport: One of the common barriers faced by people with disabilities is access to public transport and finally physical barriers.
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