Australia began to integrate students with disabilities into mainstream classrooms in the mid 1970s after almost a century of educating students with disabilities in segregated settings. This was in response to both research findings about the relative effectiveness of special education settings, and a shift in attitudes in the Western world towards how people with disabilities should be educated, and indeed, live their lives. A significant factor in the changing of attitudes was the principle of “normalisation” – the right of people with disabilities to learning and living environments as close to normal as possible – developed by Bank-Mikkelson (1969) and Nirje (1970). Wolfensberger (1970) also wrote extensively on this subject, coining the term “social role valorisation” to highlight the right of all individuals to be valued equally, and to have the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to their communities.
This book chapter is published as Konza, D, Inclusion of students with disabilities in new times: responding to the challenge, in Kell, P, Vialle, W, Konza, D and Vogl, G (eds), Learning and the learner: exploring learning for new times, University of Wollongong, 2008, 236p. Complete book available here.