1. The International Disability Alliance Inclusive Education Global Report

    November 9, 2020 by admin

    When Article 24 of UNCRPD was being framed at the United Nations (2001-2006) there was much disagreement between sensory impairment organisations and other Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs), the former arguing for a right to segregation. This led to a weak and compromised wording.

  2. COVID 19, Education and Inclusion

    June 2, 2020 by admin

    Richard Rieser, World of Inclusion

    The Coronavirus pandemic and the spread of COVID-19 in the UK, especially England, its high level of fatalities (37,048 on 26th May) and ongoing impact on us all is not accidental but the product of bad political decision making. The UK Government preoccupied with Brexit on 31st January appears to have largely ignored the advice of the World Health Organisation and wasted precious weeks when effective planning and preparation would have eased the spread and devastating fatal effects of the virus. Key issues were that the UK emergency planning was geared to a major Flu outbreak, hence lack of PPE and late banning of public events, the ending of general track and trace on 12th March, the late introduction and low capability of testing and the very late recognition that care homes and other institutions were very much more likely to be prone to the virus spread.

    Disabled people, especially those in care homes and other institutions, have been particularly badly hit. At the peak of the crisis eugenicist ideas, such as the survival of the fittest, raised their head through triage systems and rationing of scarce resources such as respirators. Those dependant on personal assistance in their homes, through direct payments or council services were often left with little or no support.

    The impact on disabled children has been dramatic. The general closure of schools allowed for key workers children, those with EHC Plans and those called ‘vulnerable’ with a social worker to continue to attend school with social distance and a skeleton rotating staff. The Risk Assessment guidance and parental fears led to less than 10% of this group actually attending school. With the Governments premature decision to reopen schools in England from 1st June the guidance has changed. Now every effort is to be made to get students who are vulnerable back into school even though many of the risks remain the same.

    The Secretary of State for Education issued a notice under the Coronavirus Act 2020 to modify section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014 – duty to secure special educational provision and health care provision in accordance with EHC plan. The modification to Section 42 means that the duty on local authorities or health commissioning bodies to secure or arrange the provision is temporarily modified to a duty to use ‘reasonable endeavours’ to do so. Guidance also varied timescales, such as the 20 week deadline to complete assessment and produce an EHC Plan or the holding of annual reviews. These measures came into force on 1st May and run in the first instance to 25th September. They should be revoked then or as soon as possible. There is a tendency in UK recent history for emergency legislation to become long term, despite being subject to Parliamentary Review. For example the licensing laws that were introduced by Lloyd George in 1915 during 1st World War and not revoked for over 100 years or the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 1974 introduced as a temporary suspension of civil rights, in the wake of the IRA Birmingham bombings, but continued being annually reviewed until 1989.

    Evidence of the impact of the lockdown on disabled children’s learning is anecdotal but clearly all children from more deprived backgrounds are less likely to have access to IT, space and parental support. Those with SEND are also not going to have access to specialist therapies and teaching. Valuable attempts supported by the Government to provide lessons such as online Oak Academy were not inclusive from the start and only later had access added e.g. BSL and differentiation. The assumption is still that there are children with learning difficulties who need a simplified separate curriculum, rather than developing curriculum that are universally accessible with different extension pathways.

    In a recent letter to the Government from the Special Education Consortium they raise the following issues which are not being addressed in discussions about reopening schools:

    • How children with SEND can be expected to return to school/settings without the support outlined in their EHC plans which enables them to access learning?
    • What children and young people with SEND will need to supplement provision in an EHC plan, or on SEN support, during and after lockdown?
    • How preparations for transition into new educational settings and phases of education will be undertaken, with a focus on accessibility/reasonable adjustments, to restore a sense of belonging and welcome?
    • How to restore wellbeing during reintegration, to support a positive return to current schools/settings, and avoid the issues that can lead to disruptive behaviour and exclusions?

    These questions beg the question whether it is safe for staff and children to return to school from 1st of June 2020, when many countries including Scotland and Northern Ireland with lower levels of infection have decided to keep schools closed until later. Faced with the decision to open schools from 1st June to Reception, Yr.1 and Yr.6 and Secondary Yr. 10 from 15th June the teachers unions particularly the NEU have opposed opening until it is safe. They put forward 5 tests they think the Government must meet before moving to the further opening of schools.

    “We want to begin to re-open schools and colleges as soon as we can. But this needs to be safe for society, for children and their families and the staff who work in them. We have these five tests which the Government should show will be met by reliable evidence, peer-reviewed science and transparent decision making.

    Test 1: Much lower numbers of Covid-19 cases. The new case count must be much lower than it is now, with a sustained downward trend, with confidence that new cases are known and counted promptly. And the Government must have extensive arrangements for testing and contact tracing to keep it that way.

    Test 2: A national plan for social distancing. The Government must have a national plan including parameters for both appropriate physical distancing and levels of social mixing in schools, as well as for appropriate PPE, which will be locally negotiated at school-by-school and local authority level.

    Test 3: Testing, testing, testing! Comprehensive access to regular testing for children and staff to ensure our schools and colleges don’t become hot spots for Covid-19.

    Test 4: Whole school strategy. Protocols to be put in place to test a whole school or college when a case occurs and for isolation to be strictly followed.

    Test 5: Protection for the vulnerable. Vulnerable (disabled) staff and staff who live with vulnerable people, must work from home, fulfilling their professional duties to the extent that is possible. Plans must specifically address the protection of vulnerable parents, grandparents and carers”.

    As this article is being written there has been support from many parents, over half Local Authorities, the British Medical Association and the independent Sage group for this approach. Given the events outlined at the beginning of this article it is right that the Government have been called out on their strategy. What looks most likely is a staggered return with social distancing and risk assessments leading to many schools not restarting until September.

    Assessment The unfairness and negative impact of our current assessment system, especially for disabled students, has been thrown into contention by the lockdown. Teachers were asked to rank their students based on course work and internal tests. The Exam Boards will then adjust these marks by the historic scores of the school and fix pass rates and grades. Under Gove’s reforms we moved away from course work and understanding to a more fact-based curriculum disadvantaging many disabled learners. Surely now is the time to move back to a fairer system of assessment, which gives all learners a chance to show what they can achieve!

  3. Sector letter to the Children’s Minister

    by admin

    Dear Minister,

    29th May 2020

    In more usual circumstances we would have hoped to have met directly with you, introduced ourselves and welcomed you to your role. We are aware that you have met some of the organisations below, but we are writing to you as the representatives of a range of charities and organisations that work with and support children with special needs and/or disabilities (SEND), and their families.

    The COVID-19 pandemic affects us all, personally and professionally, but as you yourself have acknowledged, this period is particularly hard for children and young people with SEND, their families and those who support them. We are writing to you because of our particular concerns about the following issues:

    Whilst the Coronavirus Act and accompanying DfE guidance relating to SEND were introduced with the aim of supporting local authorities to respond to the current crisis, we have significant concerns about the disproportionate impact on this group of children, who already experience poorer outcomes than their peers. In particular, we are concerned about the modification of Section 42 of the Children and Families Act and the variability in the interpretation of ‘reasonable endeavours’. Whilst we acknowledge and recognise the incredible efforts that many services and professionals have gone to in order to keep support going in many areas over the last few months, parents are reporting that some local authorities are making little or no attempt to engage with them to agree what provision in their child’s Education, Health and Care Plan will continue to be made and how and when this will happen. We are also concerned about reports regarding the number of therapeutic interventions not being provided, and the potential impact of this on children’s physical and mental health and wellbeing both now and in the longer term. Given that we expect an imminent announcement regarding the extension of the current

    notice (which ends on May 31st), we would like to ask how your Department is monitoring these processes, what provision is being made; how the measures have affected children with SEND and what evidence will inform any subsequent decisions should there be any further extensions of the current notice.

    In addition, we ask you to ensure that there is no further extension of the amended arrangements to vary timescales in The Special Educational Needs and Disability (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, beyond the current end date of 25th September, as we are particularly concerned that those children and young people who are waiting for a plan to be issued or amended are not disadvantaged any further.

    The issue of when/how children and young people will return to school/settings also remains problematic. We are concerned that although discussions are currently focusing on the search for a specific date, significant issues affecting children and young people with SEND are being overlooked:

    •   How children with SEND can be expected to return to school/settings without the support outlined in their EHC plans, or through SEN Support, which enables them to access learning
    •   What children and young people with SEND will need to supplement provision in an EHC plan, or on SEN support, during and after lockdown
    •   How preparations for transition into new educational settings and phases of education will be undertaken, with a focus on accessibility/reasonable adjustments, to restore a sense of belonging and welcome
    •   How to restore wellbeing during reintegration, to support a positive return to current schools/settings, and avoid the issues that can lead to disruptive behaviour and exclusions The plan for a return to school/settings needs to focus on promoting wellbeing, securing missing therapies and individual planning for all pupils with SEND. This approach needs to be applied consistently across the country. In many ways the restrictions faced within the current pandemic has simply magnified the pre-existing inequalities experienced by children and young people with SEND over many years. Over the past 6 months many of our organisations have met and fed into the government’s SEND Review, which set out to both examine the effectiveness of the current system, and provide changes and solutions to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability of this system. It is not clear where the SEND Review currently lies, but we feel strongly that it needs to come out of cold storage urgently and be adapted to fit the current extraordinary circumstances, and the ongoing legacy of these days – like so many other areas in our lives, it can no longer be ‘business as usual’. We would very much welcome the opportunity to

    support the ongoing work of this Review, as we feel that nothing short of an overarching re-design of many aspects of the system is enough to address the gross inequalities in educational entitlement faced by many children and young people with SEND. The SEND Review and the Care Review urgently need to focus on the design of health and social care provision to support children, young people and their families in their local community.

    We understand the above issues are not straightforward, and we would welcome any opportunities for ongoing dialogue with you and the department to help clarify and find solutions to the issues we have raised.

    In addition, we are sure you will be interested in hearing about the findings of a recent survey run by the Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP) – reaching out to families of children with SEND and asking for their views on how they have been affected, and what their ongoing concerns are. The findings will be shared with your officials this week and published next month. DCP would be interested in speaking to you in more detail about the findings.


    Amanda Batten, CEO, Contact
    Professor Sonia Blandford, CEO, Achievement for All
    Linda Lascelles, CEO, Afasic
    Leo Sowerby, CEO, Affinity Trust
    Rachel Travers, CEO, Amaze
    Jolanta Lasota, CEO, Ambitious about Autism
    Dr Deborah Kitson, CEO, Ann Craft Trust
    Ben Higgins, CEO, Bild
    Catherine McLeod MBE, CEO, Bingley’s Promise
    Gareth Howells, CEO, Carers Trust
    Dr Artemi Sakellariadis, Director, Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education
    Helen Hewitt, CEO, Chailey Heritage Foundation
    Dame Christine Lenehan, Director, Council for Disabled Children
    Brett Parker, CEO, CPotential
    Louise King, Director, CRAE
    Patsy Hallmey, Director, Dorset Children’s Foundation
    Carol Boys, CEO, Down’s Syndrome Association
    Catherine Slater, Engagement Advisor, East Midlands and Yorkshire Activity Alliance Bob Reitemeier, CEO, I CAN
    Enver Solomon, CEO, Just for Kids Law
    Katie Ghose, CEO, KIDS
    Edel Harris, CEO, Mencap
    Graham Duncan, CEO, my AFK – working with disability Claire Dorer, CEO, NASS
    Caroline Stephens, CEO, National Autistic Society
    Clare Howard, CEO, Natspec
    Steve Haines, Executive Director of Policy and Campaigns, NDCS
    Paul Marshall, CEO, NDTi
    Becky Jenner, CEO, Rett UK
    Matt Stringer, CEO, RNIB
    James Taylor, Executive Director of Strategy, Impact and Social Change, Scope
    Jane Gates OBE, CEO, Sebastian’s Action Trust
    Gillian Docherty, Co-Founder, SEND Community Alliance
    Nasreen Hussain, Head of Service, SENDIASS Birmingham – representing Information Advice & Support Services
    Richard Kramer, CEO, Sense
    Dr Shirley Landrock-White, Chair, SMiRA
    Tania Tirraoro, CEO, Special Needs Jungle Ltd
    Liz Ryburn, Support Services Manager, Spinal Muscular Atrophy UK
    Laura Lewis, Charity Director, Swings & Smiles
    Dalton Leong, CEO, The Children’s Trust
    Mrunal Sisodia and Tina Emery, Co-Chairs, The National Network of Parent Carer Forums
    Mark Lee, CEO, The Together Trust
    Charles Colquhoun, CEO, Thomas Pocklington Trust
    Richard Rieser, CEO, World of Inclusion Ltd
    Mark Devlin, CEO, Young Epilepsy

  4. Preparing Professionals for the Education of Disabled People

    April 1, 2020 by admin

    Given as 2 Skype talks with Powerpoint presentations to the Caribbean Inclusive Education Conference at the University of West Indies, Kingston Jamaica on 10th and 11th March 2020 by Richard Rieser

    Preparing Professionals for the Education of Disabled People.

    Slide 2 What do International Agreements Say UNESCO Salamanca Statement 1994 agreed by 94 Governments and 20 INGOs. Committed to education for all in regular education system. Combats discrimination achieves an inclusive society also effective for the majority. No studies in the world show in properly organised inclusion non-disabled children do worse and quite a lot of evidence do better because of peer support.

    Slide 3 Article 24 UN CRPD. I was lucky enough to represent UK Disabled People’s Movement at Ad Hoc Committee 6,7 & 8, which finalised the negotiation of the UNCRPD. Education was hotly contested, with some of countries promoting choice of special segregated schools. These moves were defeated three times as being contrary to the human rights principle. The wording of Article 24 was largely devised and put forward by the International Disability Caucus which was divided on this issue, but eventually reached the compromise that is Article 24. The need for the UNCRPD had been disputed since 1981-Internatinal Yea of the Disabled. Only with Disability Awareness in Action working on behalf of Disabled People International collected and put forward 2.5 million examples of Disability Discrimination was the ned for the Convention accepted and Mexico and Ecuador put forward a motion at the General Assembly to start the process of developing a Convention that was finally agreed in December 2006 by the United Nations and came into force in 2008 when more than 20 countries had ratified it.

    Slide 4 the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2015 these replaced the Millennium Development Goals which had not mentioned disability. The sustainable Development Goals followed a huge global consultation and apply to all countries. Disability is in 7 of the Goals with 11 mentions and by implication is in all of them. The Secretary General has shown the World is falling well behind in implementation by 2030. Goal 4 is to “ensure inclusive quality education and promote life long learning opportunities for all’. Around 30 million disabled children do not attend basic education. A much larger number of disabled young people 270 million have not completed basic and secondary education and many more disabled adults are illiterate. Target 4A requires state parties to make all school infrastructure inclusive. 4.4 eliminate all discrimination; Target 4.2 create Equal Access to Quality Pre-Primary Schools and Target 4.1 free Primary and Secondary education for all.

    Slide 5 UNCRPD Committee, who are elected by the State Parties who have ratified the UNCRPD, currently 181.THE UNCRPD Committee has found, through its reporting system on country reports, that no country was fully implementing Article 24 on Inclusive Education. It resolved to hold a general day of discussion and produce a General Comment (No 4) on Article 24. This is the most important clarification of what is Inclusive Education in International Treaty Law.

    Slide 6 The UNCRPD is based on the paradigm shift from oppressive traditional, medical and charity views of disabled people which view us as objects to be fixed, normalised and cared for to subjects with human rights faced by barriers of attitude, environment and organisation that must be removed and replaced by solutions that include us and give us equal value and rights as disabled people. This cartoon by my fried Micheline Mason ‘You are the Problem’ identifies that everyone should become allies in our struggle for rights rather than fighting each other.

    Slide 7 The transformative way of thinking originated in the Disabled People’s Movement in the 1970s and early 1980s and was adopted in 1981 by the World Congress of Disabled People International in 1981. The Year before 400 disabled people had walked and wheeled out of the World Congress of Rehabilitation International as this was dominated by non-disabled professionals. They became the core of DPI. The focus shifted from trying to fix and normalise through special education to including. The system need to change not the individual and their impairment. To get this enshrined into International Law in 25 years is amazing. The big issue now is implementation which is predicated on bringing about a global shift in mind set.

    Slide 8 Translating this thinking into different types of education it can be seen that exclusion, segregation and various forms of integration do not fulfil this promise. Only inclusive provision where all children receive the support they need, the reasonable accommodations as we move to universal design and barrier free schools not just in the environment but in the curriculum and assessment. We need to move away from Grade systems to a child centred approach, where each child gets what they need to thrive. This means much training for educational professionals, attitudinal change for peers, community and education professional and government moving away from reliance on normative testing. It is not “one size fits all’ but ‘every size accommodated together’.

    Slide 9 School barriers to inclusion. The most important tool to bring about the transformation to inclusion, is that school communities learn to identify barriers to participation and achievement of all students in the locality and work collaboratively in finding and implementing solutions. Crucial to this is to recognise the building of positive relationships, friendship and acceptance in the school and community. I have carried out this activity in 100s of schools around the world and despite the different economic levels and cultures the barriers are very similar. Once the barriers are identified collectively it is easier to develop solution focused thinking to solve them.

    Slide 10 The Canadian Province of New Brunswick has for more than 20 years had a school system where all children go to regular mainstream schools. They have put extra resource into the mainstream saved by not having any segregated schools. They have found that Education Support Teachers who have received additional training should spend 60% of their time working with class teachers to change and review their practice to become more inclusive and effective. Only a quarter of their time is supporting individual disabled students. Each class has increasingly available universal accommodations and the Education Support teachers work with regular teachers on how to use these and other support accommodations to maximise each student’s learning.

    Slide 11 The parents’ dilemma. Should they listen to medical professionals with, often, outdated views about what their disabled child will be able to achieve or should they trust in their love of their child and become good allies in their struggle for human rights and inclusion.

    Slide 12 Maresa MacKeith was quadriplegic, non-verbal and used a wheelchair. The Local Authority had placed he in a special school for severe learning difficulties. Her mother was not sure this was right and searched for a means of communicating with her daughter. When Maresa was aged 12 her Mum found facilitated Communication and once she had learned to support Maresa in using a letter board she said ‘Get me out of here. I’m so bored’. Maresa a communication difficulty, not cognition. She could already read from watching the TV. Eventually after much campaigning Maresa when to a regular mainstream school with a facilitator . She had to point out every letter of her sentences. This took a long time., but with 6x the extra time a 3 hour exam was 18 hours she achieved the best grades the school had ever had. Maresa is now, having got a 2.1 degree in English, a poet and activist founding Quiet Revolution for young non -verbal people. Here is part of one of her poems.

  5. Inclusive Education: IDA produces a consensus paper on how to achieve SDG 4 in compliance with CRPD Article 24

    by admin

    Despite some progress in international frameworks and progress in the development of more adequate education laws and policies, there is no certainty that any country for that matter is on track to ensure access to quality inclusive education for all children with disabilities by 2030. In a context of competing priorities and limited funding, it was essential that DPOs come up with clear messages and recommendations, building on the evidence of what works and looking at mechanisms for taking good practices to scale for broader impact.

    As part if its Inclusive Education Flagship initiative (funded by the Disability Catalyst Programme of DFID), IDA and its members created a dedicated technical task team who worked to provide an evidence-based DPO perspective to frame the implementation of SDG 4 (Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all) in compliance with CRPD Article 24.

    The consensus document is based on extensive exchanges between IDA members (IFHOH, II, WBU, WFD), dialogue with members of the International Disability Development Consortium (IDDC) and review of literature and in-depth analysis of the Nepal context, including an exchange with Nepalese representatives of disability organizations (DPOs). This document is the result of a collaborative process that lasted 16 months and included:

    • A stock taking workshop with the IDDC IE task group in March 2018 and preparation of a preliminary report on the global state of play of education in general and for learners with disabilities in particular.
    • A comprehensive data collection on Nepal and an in-depth exchange with Nepalese DPOs in March 2019, and interaction with DFID and UNICEF.
    • A workshop in Brighton in July 2019, to formalise this consensus

    This Document is divided into 2 parts:

    • The common IDA Vision for Sustained Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) implemented by 2030 in line with the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
    • The elements of dialogue that contributed to building the common vision (parameters set to frame the exchange and country analysis, key points of general consensus, the “special schools” debate)

    You can access to the documents here:

    • The full text of the consensus paper, validated by the Board of IDA in November 2019
    • A summary version, which was shared with UNESCO’s team in charge of producing the 2020 Global Education Monitor (GEM) report
    • A video by the members of the IDA Inclusive Education task team presenting key points of the paper

  6. Workshop and Keynote at ICSE 2017, Malaysia

    August 24, 2017 by admin

    Richard Rieser gave a keynote and a workshop at ICSE 2017 – the 2nd International Conference on Special Education at the Borneo Convention Centre, Kuching, 31st July – 2nd August 2017.

    Download the powerpoint for the workshop [General Comment 4 Article 24] here.

    Download the powerpoint for the keynote [Inclusive Education for the 21st Century] here.

  7. A-Z Offensive disablist language and origins

    July 7, 2016 by Richard Rieser

    A to Z of Offensive Disablist Language

    ORIGIN: Suggests that higher force has cast the person down (‘affligere’ is Latin for to knock
    down, to weaken), or is causing them pain or suffering. Use ‘impairment’ or disabled people depending on the context.

    ORIGIN: This word comes from Old English crypel or creopel, both related to the verb ‘to creep’. These, in turn, come from old (Middle) German ‘kripple’ meaning to be without power. The word is extremely offensive. Use person who has / person with….

    Dumb or Dumbo
    ORIGIN: a) Not to be able to speak. b) These words have come to mean lacking intelligence but people can communicate in different ways not just talking.

    ORIGIN: Dwarf is used to describe short people or short stature, through folklore and common usage it has negative connotations.

    ORIGIN: The word feeble comes from old French meaning ‘lacking strength’. It’s meaning was formalised in the Mental Deficiency Act 1913, to mean not an extremely pronounced mental deficiency, but one still requiring care, supervision and control.Use person with learning difficulty

    ORIGIN: Associated with freak show where people who were very small, tall, large or with other visible differences or impairments were put on display for the public gaze in 17th, 18th and 19th century. It means strange or abnormal. This should not be used.


    ORIGIN: Having an imposed disadvantage. The word may have several origins:
    a) from horse races round the streets of Italian City States, such as Sienna, where really good riders had to ride one-handed, holding their hat in their other hand to make the race more equal.

    b) by association with penitent sinners (often disabled people) in many parts of Europe who were forced into begging to survive and had to go up to people ‘cap in hand’.

    ORIGIN: Coming from Old English lama Old German lahm and Old Norse lami meaning crippled, paralytic or weak. In Middle English came to mean ‘crippled’ in hands or feet. Lame duck is also used to mean any disabled person or thing or lame brain meaning learning difficulties. In modern slang ‘lame’ is used for someone or something that is un-cool, boring, not exciting, not funny, weak, annoying, inadequate or a loser. In this respect ‘lame’ is used like ‘gay’ and should be challenged. It is offensive.

    ORIGIN: The word dates from the 13th century and comes from the Latin word idiota, meaning ‘ignorant person’. Again, it featured in the Mental Deficiency Act 1913 (see Feebleminded), where it meant someone who was so mentally deficient that they should be detained for the whole of their lives.

    ORIGIN: This word has been around since the 16th century and comes from the Latin, imbecillus, meaning ‘feeble’ (it literally meant ‘without support’ and was originally used mainly in a physical sense). It was similarly defined in the Mental Deficiency Act, as someone incapable of managing their own affairs.

    ORIGIN: Literally means not valid, from Latin ‘invalidus’. In the 17th century it came to have
    a specific meaning, when referring to people, who were infirm, or disabled.

    Mental or nutter or crazy
    ORIGIN: All these are informal (slang) and offensive words for people with mental health issues. One in four people have a major bout of mental distress or become mental health system users. The vast majority are not dangerous. 1 in 10 of school age students are diagnosed with mental health issues at some point in their schooling. Such young people need understanding, support and counselling, not harassment and name calling. Other names used Lunatic, Loony, Insane, Weird, Weirdo, Bonkers, Psycho and Mad to be avoided.

    Mentally handicapped

    ORIGIN: Was and is still used to refer to people with Learning difficulties the origin of the word handicap is as above. In the UK over 150,000 people with learning difficulties were locked away in Mental Handicap Hospitals because tests showed they had low Intelligence Quotients (IQ). These tests have since been shown to be culturally biased and only to measure one small part of how the brain works. People with learning difficulties have chosen the name “people with learning difficulties” for themselves because they think that, through education, which they have largely been denied, they can improve their situation.

    ORIGIN: Langdon Down was a doctor who worked at the London Hospital in Whitechapel in the 1860s. He noticed that around 1 in 800 babies was born with pronounced different features and capabilities. Their features reminded him of the Mongolian peoples. He postulated that there was a hierarchy of races (in descending order) – European, Asian,African and Mongols. Each was genetically inferior to the group above them. This was a racist theory. People with Down’s Syndrome find it extremely offensive.

    ORIGIN: Moron, Greek, meaning ‘foolish, dull, sluggish’

    Raspberry Ripple
    ORIGIN: Cockney rhyming slang for ‘cripple’, and offensive.

    ORIGIN: Still in common use in the USA for people with a learning difficulty; from the word retarded meaning held back in development – offensive.

    Spazz, spazzie or spastic
    ORIGIN: People with cerebral palsy are subject to muscle spasms or spasticity. These offensive words are sometimes used in reference to this. People with this impairment wish to be known as people with cerebral palsy or disabled people

    ORIGIN: Stupid’ was used in America at the start 20th century ‘scientifically’ to denote ‘one deficient in judgment and sense’.

    The blind; The deaf; The disabled
    ORIGIN: To call any group of people ‘the’ anything is to dehumanise them. Use blind people, deaf people or disabled people.

    Victim or sufferer
    ORIGIN: Disabled people are not victims of their impairment because this implies they are consciously singled out for punishment by God or a higher being. Similarly, the word sufferer can imply someone upon whom something has been imposed as a punishment by a deity.

    ORIGIN: Wheelchair users see their wheelchair as a means of mobility and freedom, not something that restricts them, apart from problems with lack of access.

    Notes for teachers:
    1. All teaching staff should understand this guidance and be able to explain to children the
    history of disablist terms and appropriate language.
    2. Avoid using medical labels as this may promote a view of disabled people as patients. It also implies the medical label is the over-riding characteristic, which is
    3. If it is necessary to refer to a condition, it is better to say, for example, ‘a person with
    epilepsy’ not an epileptic, or ‘s/he has cerebral palsy’ not a spastic.
    4. The word disabled should not be used as a collective noun (for example as in ‘the disabled’).
    5. Although disabled people have impairments, they are not people with disabilities.
    They are disabled by outside forces. They choose to be called “Disabled People” in the UK
    because of collective oppression and solidarity.

    Richard Rieser World of Inclusion
    A to Z of offensive disablist language www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/send-programme

  8. What’s Happening with Inclusive Education Around the World

    September 18, 2014 by Richard Rieser

    148 countries including the European Union have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities (UNCRPD) and 158 have adopted the Convention. In December2013 a Report-‘Thematic Study on the Rights of persons with disabilities to education’ from the UN Human Rights Council made clear inclusion and inclusive education is one of the key provisions of the UNCRPD. Article 24 commits State parties to developing an inclusive education system, where disability should not prevent people from successfully participating in the mainstream education system. But this study demonstrates that although there have been moves towards inclusion such as, by the provision of statutory rights to inclusion in Spain and Portugal (joining the long standing practice in Italy), there are still many barriers including lack of adequately trained teachers, accessible buildings, peer support and challenging bullying, with much more integration than inclusion. The observations of the CRPD Committee on the first 13 Country Reports also demonstrate a wide variation in practice, for example China is criticised for only integrating those with physical and mild visual impairments and for an expanding programme of special school building. Austria, which had developed moves to inclusion a decade ago is criticised for lacking continuing momentum in this process. All 13 countries are urged to do more and reminded that the duty of making reasonable accommodations in education for disabled people is not a progressively realised right, but must be implemented from the point of ratification. In March 2014 the Human Rights Council passed a resolution urging more to be done to implement the right to inclusive education . As these Reports point out implementing full inclusive education is a matter of political will and where that consensus has been built as in New Brunswick Province, Canada it can happen. In New Brunswick Policy No 322 on inclusive education states:
    “6.2.2 . The following practices must not occur: 1) Segregated, self contained programs or classes for students with learning or behavioural challenges, either in school or in community based learning opportunities. 2) Alternative education programmes for students enrolled in kindergarten to grade eight.”

    Send ALL Disabled Children to School????
    Around the world we have much to campaign for in terms of developing inclusive education for all disabled learners. The Global Campaign for Education in the UK is focusing on getting the 40% of out-of- school children who are disabled, into school. That is 24million out of 57 million children still out of school. Send All My Friends to School (www.sendmyfriend.org) has a free pack for schools, to work with pupils in KS1, 2 and 3 pupils this term on raising their awareness of this important issue.

    In England, we may feel that we are losing the battle in the argument for inclusion. Despite the weakening of the presumption of inclusion in the Children and Families Act (2014), it is still there, with more than 90% of the two million disabled pupils and students attending schools and colleges, in mainstream provision. Domestically the struggle for inclusion must continue.

    However, worldwide, despite 14 years of the Millennium Development Goal (2) requiring that all children should complete primary education, this will not be achieved next year. There have been big advances in many countries in getting millions of children into school, but the nature and quality of that schooling has not been adequate with a recent survey of 350,000 pupils in East Africa (Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda) showing only 15% achieved expected literacy and numeracy levels .

    When it comes to children with disabilities, as they are known internationally, the numbers in school in most developing countries, though there are no accurate figures, is likely to be less than 10% and numbers completing primary education is less than 1%. So as more children are successfully enrolled in school, the proportion of those out of school who are disabled, are rising. Schools and learning are not generally accessible and teachers do not know how to make reasonable accommodations or provide the right support, so the drop out of enrolled pupils with disabilities is high. There are many reasons. Negative attitudes of parents and teachers are the biggest barrier, followed by poverty-parents need children to work and can’t afford school fees, long distances to school, lack of accessible schools and then lack of adequate teacher training.

    In 2012, there were about 28.9 million primary teachers working in classrooms around the world. With universal primary education high on the political agenda, countries have made great efforts to boost the supply of teachers, by 16% globally since 1999 . At least 20 countries have more than doubled their teacher workforces.

    Training All Teachers for Inclusive Education
    However, as demonstrated by my recent work for UNICEF on preparing teachers for children with disabilities (CWD), most teachers in developing countries get no training on including children with disabilities. If they do get training, it is based on a special education needs model, where the focus is on separating the child from their peers to segregated classes and schools and focussing on what they cannot do from a ‘medical model’. There is an urgent need for all teachers pre-service and in-service, to get twin-track training on including children with disabilities.

    Track One: Education based on Principles of Equality and Child Empowerment involves foundations and inclusive values which apply and are beneficial to all groups of marginalized learners and children e.g. girls, nomads, rural, poor, child soldiers/orphans, those with HIV/AIDS, children with disabilities, linguistic and ethnic minorities, traumatised and displaced children. The principles to enable a child friendly educational environment outlined by UNESCO are:
    ‘Equality and Valuing Difference
    Identifying Barriers – Finding Solutions
    Collaborative Learning – Peer Support
    Differentiation & Flexible Curriculum and Assessment
    Stimulating and Interesting Multi-Sensory Learning Environment
    An Anti-Bias Curriculum
    Child Centred Pedagogy, Creative with Reflective Teachers
    Quality education requiring rigour and effort for each child to achieve their potential’ (UNESCO).

    Track Two: Education accommodating the different impairment specific needs of children with disabilities or special needs. This will require teachers to be familiar with and able to make accommodations for:
    a) Blind and Visually-Impaired pupils /students (Braille, tactile maps and plans, tapes and text to talk, mobility training, large print, magnification, orientation, auditory environment & talking instruments.)
    b) Deaf & Hearing-Impaired pupils/students (Sign Language taught & use of interpretation, oral/finger spelling, hearing aid support, visual and acoustic environments.)
    c) DeafBlind-Language (Use of interpreters, tactile environment, aids and appliances, orientation.)
    d) Physical Impairment (Accessible infrastructure, toilets and washrooms, furniture adjustments, equipment, prosthesis, use of personal assistance, diet, transport, medication.)
    e) Speech & Communication impairment (Facilitated communication, augmented communication [high and low tech], social use of language switching, talkers, information grids.)
    f) Specific Learning Difficulty (Coloured overlays & background, Easy Read, tapes and text to talk, spell-checkers, concrete objects.)
    g) General Cognitive Impairment (Pictograms, small steps curriculum, easy read, scaffolding, Makaton, use of symbols & information grids, using concrete objects.)
    h) Mental Health and Behaviour (Counselling and personal support, differentiated behaviour policy, empathy, quiet chill-out space, circles of friends, collaborative learning and structured day.)
    i) Introduction to screening, identification and key adjustments for main impairments.
    UNESCO Bangkok have produced a very useful online guide on how to go about implementing track two in mainstream schools.

    This said, there are many examples of teachers developing the above expertise and including children with disabilities successfully. They are the exception rather than the rule and nowhere have come to scale.

    Adolf is visually impaired and can be accommodated in his class in Tanzania due to Sightsavers providing a telescopic sight so he can read the blackboard. After several false starts, Tanzania is now working towards a more system wide approach to inclusion of CWD. Action on Disability and Development International (ADD), have taken on overall responsibility for design, fundraising, implementation, coordination, monitoring, evaluation and dissemination with the MOEVT. Modelling Inclusive Education (MIE) project expects to cover three districts in Coast region with 265 primary schools. These are demonstrating how CWD can be fully included, teachers trained and curriculum adapted so they get quality education. Now the task is to make sure this approach gets into the Post-Millennium Development Goals in 2015.
    The prospects for the coming period could change the few examples of inclusive practice into the norm, but there are two obstacles. Firstly, that as the pressure to marketize education increases and more businesses view education services as a means of profit, rather than a public good then those who are seen as difficult or different from the norm will become an inconvenient truth and as the currency of the market becomes standardised test scores those who achieve differently or at a different pace will be squeezed out and old models of segregation will re-assert themselves. Secondly, as the world moves closer to all children being in school the decreasing minority still out of school will not be funded. Against this is the agreement that in what replaces the Millennium Development Goals disability should be specifically mentioned. The Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights have issued guidance to countries that they must consider disabled children when reporting on progress in establishing human rights . UNICEF have prioritised disabled children and are holding the first global meeting of disabled children and young people in New York in June. This follows the publication of a series of useful publication . ‘Take us Seriously’, being about gathering children with disabilities views and the Global Report on Children last year focused on disability . So it is now about mounting sufficient political pressure to turn fine words into reality.

    1. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session25/Documents/A-HRC-25-29_en.doc
    2. http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/TBSearch.aspx?Lang=en&TreatyID=4&DocTypeID=5
    3. http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/25/L.30 25th March 2014
    Global Monitoring Report 2013/14 UNESCO
    4. http://www.app.collinsindicate.com/uis-atlas-teachers/en-us
    5. http://worldofinclusion.com/unicef-project-educating-teachers-for-children-with-disabilities/
    UNESCO (2009). Policy Guidelines on Inclusion in Education. Paris: UNESCO. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0017/001778/177849e.pdf
    7. UNESCO (2009). Policy Guidelines on Inclusion in Education. Paris: UNESCO. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0017/001778/177849e.pdf
    8. UNESCO Bangkok (2009). Teaching Children with Disabilities in Inclusive Settings. Specialized Booklet 3. Part of Embracing Diversity: Toolkit for creating inclusive , learning-friendly environments. Bangkok: UNESCO.
    9. http://www2.unescobkk.org/elib/publications/243_244/Teaching_children.pdf
    10. UN OHCHR (2013) Thematic study on the right of persons with disabilities to education Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights A/HRC/25/29 http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session25/Pages/ListReports.aspx
    11. Global Partnership for Children with Disabilities http://www.unicef.org/disabilities/index_69776.html
    12. http://www.unicef.org/disabilities/files/Take_Us_Seriously.pdf
    13. http://www.unicef.org/sowc2013/files/SWCR2013_ENG_Lo_res_24_Apr_2013.pdf

  9. Articles in Inclusion Now magazine by Richard Rieser

    July 7, 2014 by admin

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 1, Spring 2001
    ‘Count Me In’ (about a new film) (p.8-9)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 2, Summer 2001
    ‘New Act a Turning Point: Disability, Special Educational Needs and the Law’ (p.4-5), ‘Access for All: A Training the Trainers’ Course led by DEE (p.12-13), ‘Does Language Matter?’ (p.16-17)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 3, Winter 2002
    Editorial (p.2) and ‘SEN and Disability Act: Post 16, Definition and Justice’ (p.4-5)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 4, Summer 2002
    ‘N.U.T. Moves Backwards: Inclusion, SEN and behaviour’ (p.11-12)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 5, Summer 2002
    ‘New Act Comes into Force: Grasp this Opportunity – Develop Inclusion in your Schools Now’ (p.24)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 7, Winter 2003
    ‘Listening to the Asian Community’ (p.12), ‘Reasonable Adjustments (p.13) and ‘The Green Paper – Every Child Matters’ (p.15)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 8, Spring 2003
    ‘Removing Barriers to Achievement: The Government Strategy for SEN’ (p.7) and ‘On the Road with RAP (Reasonable Adjustments Project)’ (p.12-13)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 9, Summer 2004
    ‘New Resources from DEE: All Equal All Different’ (p.16) and ‘Disabling Imagery? A Teaching Guide to Disability and Moving Image Media’ (p.17)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 10, Autumn 2004
    Editorial (p.2) and ‘Working Together for Empowerment [Mumbai July 2004]‘ (p.3) and ‘Inclusion in the Mumbai Slums’ (p.4-5)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 11, Winter 2004-5
    ‘Facilitated Interview Inclusion at West Bridgeford’ (p.3-5) and ‘Exam Boards Fail the Test’ (p.15) by Richard Rieser:

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 12, Summer 2005
    ‘Beware the United Nations are Drafting a Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities’ (p.11) and ‘Review of Play All of Us’ (p.18):

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 13, Autumn 2005
    ‘Victory at the United Nations’ (p.6-7)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 14, Spring 2006
    ‘Free New Resource Implementing the DDA in Schools and Early Years’ (p.3-4) and ‘The Education and Inspections Bill 2006: A Major Attack on Inclusive Education’ (p.12-13)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 15, Autumn 2006
    ‘United Nations Signs up to Inclusion’ (p.6-7) and ‘OFSTED – Mainstream Does it Better’ (p.17)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 17, Summer 2007
    Editorial (p.7), ‘Sign up EDF Petition’ (p.9), ‘Redrawing Inclusion Map of Europe’ (p.10-11), ‘Lest We Forget: The Useless Eaters in the Third Reich’ (p.14-15) and ‘Implementing the Duty to Promote Disability Equality in Schools’ (p.18) by Richard Rieser:

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 18, Autumn 2007
    ‘Building Schools for the Future? Or the Past?’ (p.14-15) by Richard Rieser:

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 19, Spring 2008
    ‘Developing Inclusive Education in South Africa’ (p.3-5) by Richard Rieser:

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 20, Spring 2008
    ‘N.U.T. Votes for Inclusion’ (p.8) and ‘Championing Inclusive Education in South Africa’ (p12-13)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 21, Autumn 2008
    ‘Government Backtracks Refusal to Ratify Article 24 without Reservations’ (p.9) and ‘How Inclusive is the English Education System? What do Government Statistics tell us about the last 15 years?’ (p.14-15)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 22, Spring 2009
    Editorial (p.2), ‘Secretary of State’s Report on Progress on Disability Equality: How much Achieved?’ (p.12-13) and ‘Promoting Inclusive Education: Implementing Inclusive Education A Commonwealth Guide to Implementing Article 24 of UNCRPD’ (p.16)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 23, Summer 2009
    ‘Easter Parade Teacher Unions get to grips with Inclusive Education’ (p.7) and ‘The Mouse that Roared DEE 1992-2009 (p.14-15)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 24, Autumn 2009
    ‘Curriculum Concerns’ (p.6-7)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 25, Spring 2010
    ‘The Lamb Inquiry: The Missing Chapter of 005 Life Chance Report’ (p.14-150) and ‘Child’s Play – Getting Disability Representation Right in Picture Books for very Young Children’

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 26, Summer 2010
    ‘Bringing Disability Equality into the National Curriculum’

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 27, Autumn 2010
    ‘Spain Rises to the Challenge of Implementing Inclusive Education’ (p.10-11) and ‘UK Disability History Month’ (p.18)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 28, Spring 2011
    ‘The School White Paper Progress or Profiteering?’ (p.6-7) and ‘Disability History Month off to a Flying Start’ (p.18)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 29, Summer 2011
    ‘Where Now for Inclusive Education?’ (p.4-5), ‘Inclusive Practice Around the World’ (p.14-15) and ‘UKDHM’ (p.17)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 30, Autumn 2011
    ‘Get Ready for Disability History Month’ (p.5) and ‘Inclusive Practice Around the World II’ (p.12-13)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 31, Spring 2012
    ‘Free Special Schools and Special Academies’ (p.8-9), ‘Commonwealth Round Table on Inclusive Education Moves in the Right Direction’ (p.12-13) and ‘Attempt to overturn law on Inclusive Education Fails at Appeal Court’ (p.16-17)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 32, Summer 2012
    ‘No Return to Compulsory Segregation. Is this what the Queen’s Speech Heralds?’ (p.7) and ‘Exclusion: What’s Changing?’ (p.13)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 33, Autumn 2012
    ‘Gerry German: A Life Well Lived’ (p.12-13) and ‘Disability History Month’ (p.13-14)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 34, Spring 2013
    Editorial (p.2)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 35, Summer 2013
    ‘Educating Teachers for Disabled Children: The Results of a Recent UNICEF Global Project’ (p.12-13) and ‘Teachers Union’s Campaign to Save State Education’ (p.16)

    Inclusion Now Magazine, Volume 36, Autumn 2013
    ‘SEN Reform and Inclusive Education’ (p.12-13)

  10. Brighton January 2014

    February 3, 2014 by Atiha Gupta

    Richard talks on disability equality in Brighton January 2014

    Richard Rieser was asked to go to Brighton to train the trainers on disability equality in the classroom. At the Brighthelm Centre, he spoke to a room of 40 teachers and education experts about the legal framework under which schools fall and their duty to promote disability equality.

    Richard prepared three presentations for three separate groups of teachers and educationalists that sat in on different sessions of the day long training.

    See below:

    Presentation 1

    Presentation 2