By Megan Purvis

My Definition of Inclusion

To me, inclusion is completely involving, welcoming, and accepting every single person into an activity, organization, classroom, etc. to the fullest extent possible, no matter who they are and whether or not they have a disability. Inclusion is not solely the presence of all people who wish to participate, but also requires the complete immersion and participation of all people involved. It is not just about having different types of people represented in a group; it is about everyone working together and participating in the same activities, despite their differences.

Why Is Inclusion Important?

There are so many different reasons why inclusion is important. Everybody likes to feel like they have a place where they belong and can be themselves without feeling judged or rejected. With the implementation of inclusion, everyone can feel this way, no matter who they are.

All people have certain qualities that make them unique, and to discriminate against people because of these traits is simply unethical. Some people may do things differently than what is considered normal, but it is still always possible and extremely necessary for them to be included. For example, many people may think that students with intellectual disabilities need to have individualized education or be in classes separate from their typically developing peers, but in reality, it is most beneficial for them to be included in a general education classroom as much as possible. These students may have certain accommodations or need specific modifications to some activities in order to succeed, but they are still able to be fully included in a general education classroom.

Including everyone, despite differences, promotes diversity, which I believe is an extremely important part of day to day life. Students don't just learn from educators; they learn a lot from their peers as well. Being constantly surrounded people who are all similar to you is simply uninteresting and does not provide you with the opportunity to see how other people live their lives differently from you. The ability to get along with and include people who are different from you is a vital skill to have in life, so implementing this in the classroom teaches students how to do this from an early age.


The Challenges of Inclusion

  • Can be costly (staff, curriculum, accommodations, etc.)
  • People can be unaccepting of others because of their differences
  • Students with disabilities are usually targeted more for bullying than other students
  • Many people are hesitant to work with people with disabilities because they have no experience doing so or simply think they cannot succeed to the same extent as everyone else
  • Not everybody has an open mind about embracing everyone's differences
  • Some general education teachers are underprepared or not trained to teach students with disabilities
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Learning About Inclusion

There were several class activities that helped me to better understand the meaning and importance of inclusion. One of the first days of class I remember being told to think of a place where we feel included and a time when we have felt left out. This really helped me relate the concept to my own life and made me see how frustrating and difficult it must be for students with disabilities who are not always included in the activities that most of their peers are.

The videos that we watched in class also heavily impacted my view of inclusion. Seeing first hand the effect that inclusion can have on people who may otherwise be excluded was very meaningful and helped me see its importance. In particular, the video about Paw Pals Cafe really helped me better understand how to include children who are different from each other in the same activities and why it is beneficial to do so.

Another class activity that really helped me with this concept was Alana's presentation about her daughter Darcy. I really enjoyed hearing her real life examples about the challenges and benefits that have come from doing everything she can to make sure Darcy is included in a general education class as much as possible.

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Classroom Resources for Inclusion

  1. Using UDL is a great way to make sure all students are included in the learning process. This way, information is represented and implemented in several different ways so that students who learn differently are able to comprehend the same material.
  2. Give students with disabilities the accommodations that they need to succeed in the classroom, such as extended testing time, assistive technology, or audiobooks.
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From this website I learned the difference between inclusion and integration. Integration is just the representation of of different types of people in one place, whereas inclusion also requires the full involvement and equal treatment of everyone.
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This website helped me to realize that inclusion is not necessarily only for students with disabilities. There are many other children who are at risk of being excluded for various reasons, and it is just as important to make sure they are not left out either.