The Grand Challenge of Inclusive Education

A very pressing Grand Challenge is inclusive education. Inclusive education requires the collaboration of many different disciplines because there are so many different aspects of making education accessible. Inclusive education is also a new frontier because the systems of education that exist are inaccessible and exclusionary, so drastic changes to the educational system must be made. One innovation that has drastically changed the educational system and made it far more accessible is technology. Technology makes it possible for educators and students to communicate even when they are not in the same place or even time zone. This is incredibly important for students with disabilities who may have mobility issues that prevent them from coming to a traditional classroom. Technology like blackboard collaborate makes it possible for students to attend a class without physically attending. In recent years there has been an increase in educational programs that allow students to participate remotely. One example is the IDPP international masters program which allowed students with disabilities from all over the world to participate and earn their masters without having to come to Washington D.C. Programs like this show the innovative role technology is playing in making education more inclusive.

There are many challenges to inclusive education, however. One is unequal access to technology and unequal technological capabilities. As seen with the Maitland Commission Report and Falling Through the Net, not everyone or every country has the same amount of access to technology. Non-reliable or no internet access can prevent potential students from participating remotely in educational programs. Lack of internet can also lead to a lack of information about these programs and opportunities. Equal access to technology should be made a priority, because without equal access, much of the world’s disabled population could be excluded from education. For places that currently do not have as much access to technology, traditional classroom settings must also be made to be more inclusive. More educational materials should be made available in braille and schools should provide a sign language interpreter to every student who needs one. All children should also learn sign language in school so that they can communicate with their deaf and hard of hearing classmates. Schools should also be physically accessible with ramps and elevators. Inclusive education is a grand challenge and incredibly important because education is the future. If people with disabilities are not getting the education they need, we are missing out on the hundreds of new ideas and innovations they could come up with.