By Katerina Mavrou, AAATE President
Inclusive education has been and still is in the core of the battle for educational change towards equal opportunities and non-discrimination for children with disabilities for many years. However, interpretations, policies and educational practices around the world vary, and a number of challenges emerge in developing inclusive educational practices (Haug, 2017). Nevertheless, there is a general agreement, that inclusive education is grounded on the values of equality and social justice, and it is a basic human right for children with disabilities, as this is also directed by the UN Convention for the Rights of People with Disabilities (United Nations, 2006).
In periods of crisis, all our systems are stressed and tested, as are our principles and values. During the COVID-19 pandemic, education, like all other sectors of our lives is looking for the most effective ways keep going, by turning to technology and online education solutions. And suddenly, or maybe not, we realize that the educational material is not accessible, the digital content in education is not accessible, students no longer have access to educational assistants (McCall, 2020), often no access to their school based assistive technology, while online learning platforms are not accessible, teleconferencing tools used are not effective for all students.
Once accessibility and inclusive education was not well understood and established in pre-COVID-19 periods, it is not easy to convince educators that this is the time to for it! However, the call is everywhere, and it’s our reality today: #Stayhome, #WorkfromHome, #LearnfromHome. Maybe there is a chance to make this accessible and inclusive for all and maybe there is an opportunity to start thinking inclusive and support our quarantined students! Let’s embrace inclusive education now!
Here are some suggestions: https://aaate.net/inclusive_education_covid_mavrou/
Please also have a look at AAATE’s resource page for COVID-19: https://aaate.net/activities/covid-19/