Disability World
A bimonthly web-zine of international disability news and views • Issue no. 11 November-December 2001

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Great Britain Launches "Educating for Equality" Campaign
By Kay Schriner (kays@uark.edu)

The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) has announced that it will conduct an Educating for Equality Campaign, beginning in 2002 to improve educational opportunities for children and youth with disabilities in Great Britain.

The DRC also issued findings from its recent survey of attitudes toward education and disability. Among the findings are:
  • Nearly two-third of those surveyed say there are in favor of disabled and nondisabled students receiving education in the same schools, but
  • Less than a third say they are happy to see children with disabilities such as Down's syndrome or mental illness in the classroom
  • 12% of respondents said they thought kids with disabilities should be taught in special schools, but half of these said that this was because disabled children would not get the "proper support" in an integrated setting
  • Half of those surveyed said they thought teacher training programs should include information about disability, and 70% thought that children should learn about disability in school
Bert Massie, DRC chairperson, cited the survey results as support for the new campaign. He said, "Our survey shows that many people believe that disabled children should have access to the same educational and social opportunities as everyone else. It's clear there are concerns, particularly for children with more complex needs. That's why we are launching the Education for Equality campaign: to raise awareness of the benefits we can all reap when disabled pupils enjoy the same education opportunities as everyone else."

The campaign is intended to help achieve the goals of the Special Education Needs and Disability Act (SENDA), which will take effect in September, 2002. The campaign is a "sustained programme of action and change" that includes a confidential helpline for people with disabilities, parents, and educational institutions; a conciliation service; targeted legal work; and a "greater mainstreaming of disability" in curriculum and teaching materials.

The DRC has high hopes for the campaign. Bert Massie characterizes it a mark of the Commission's determination "to ensure we all seize the golden opportunity represented by the new, breakthrough legislation."

For more on the campaign and other DRC activities, visit their website at www.drc-gb.org.

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