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To cite: Sun, C., & Türüt, E. N. (2022). Equity and inclusion: A young people's perception on disability and the education system. International Journal of Youth-Led Research, 2(1).
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Youth Research Vox,
Los Angeles, CA, U.S.
Equity and inclusion: A young people's perspective on disability and the education system
Previous research has proven that thorough and effective childhood education is the key to long term success. Pursuing education and lifelong learning produces individuals who are ready to survive and support themselves in society. In many cases, however, factors such as disability, income, and social support impact access to necessary resources for a quality education. Those with disabilities are placed at immediate disadvantages due to the lack of quality resources that exist in America to help these children experience better schooling. As major challenges to quality education emerge from clouded perceptions, lack of understanding, and biased thoughts in terms of disability and inequality in education, we believe that it is significant to understand the origin of these issues by finding correlations between people’s demographics and their personal beliefs. To improve the youth’s understanding of childhood education and inclusivity, and to improve the overall quality of education given to disabled children in the United States and Turkey, we identified a few factors that prohibit diversity and inclusion and have found that much needs to be done in both countries to continue promoting quality education.
While analyzing the policies and the approach to inclusion in Turkey, we learned that various policies protect the rights of children with special educational needs. In the regulations of Turkish National Education Law, it is suggested that it will be a priority to educate those individuals who require special education together with other individuals by considering those individuals’ educational performances and by making adaptations in the aim, content, and teaching processes. The Turkish National Educational Law offers the following three services and opportunities: Children with special education needs attend regular schools with special classrooms, and there are support services available in rehabilitation facilities, such as physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy. While these policies protect and support the children to some extent, there are serious shortcomings in terms of the educational materials that are available to them, which we discuss under the category of assistive technology in our research. In terms of finance and income equality in Turkey, there are several government programs such as Disabled Pension, Need Pension, Home Care Pension, and Free Transportation to Schools for children with special needs. However, there are still many improvements that can be made to create a fully equal and inclusive environment to support children with special educational needs. That is why we hope to address the struggles in the inclusive education area with the hopes to create awareness and make a positive impact.
The United States is a relatively progressive country compared to many other countries in the world, especially when it comes to the terms “diversity” and “inclusion.” Children are taught to be inclusive towards all their peers, and schools strive to make learning environments as welcoming as possible for everyone. Still, stigmas exist. They make it hard to create a truly inclusive and diverse environment. Most Americans share the idea that people with disabilities are just as important and valuable as any other human. However, while schools acknowledge that neuroatypical children should be given the same opportunities, this mindset is not always reflected in school policy. There is a clear separation between what schools distinguish as “inclusive” and “inclusive towards disabled peoples.” Many times, when people think of inclusion and diversity in the US, they think of those terms embodying other parts of an individual’s identity, such as race, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, and other demographics. This is evident in statistics showing that many non-government funded schools (private schools) and nonprofits believe in inclusion and diversity but have incredibly small percentages of neuroatypical or disabled individuals. Disabled people remain underrepresented in both private school populations and in higher education institutions due to the lingering distinction between disability, diversity, and inclusion in America.
One way to bridge the gap between individuals with disabilities and the neurotypical population is by promoting diversity and inclusion. Our vision is for there to be diversity within all schools, without segregation based on race, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, or any other demographic, including disability. Diversity means having a representative population in all schools across the nation. Inclusivity means not only being present, but belonging. We hope to see growth and change while diversity and inclusion flourish. The youth can start by recognizing how their opinions and perception of disability creates change for better or for worse–their opinions matter, and have the power to make a difference– the difference necessary for the U.N Development Goals of Quality Education and Reduced Inequalities to come to fruition.
Elif Nur Türüt