Dipti Bhatia

Inclusion…a feeling…Inclusive Education…a process

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss this question.

I am sharing some of the things the stake holders had to say. In all of my 25 years of the work with inclusive education, I have taken each of the words of the stake holders seriously, learnt from them and tried to take inclusive education forward.

“ Students who had never attended special schools but had support from Resource Teachers. “my friends and I hope that we are in college together. Then we can continue to have fun”
“My friends want me to be with them even if I cannot play everything that they do.”
I use a wheelchair. My classmates wanted to take me out from class to the canteen. The
teachers were nervous. So they told the students not to disturb me. So I was stuck alone in
I cannot move around everywhere in school. So my classmates were told to bring library
books for me. This meant that I cannot choose the books. Some of them had to sit with me in
class while other went to play. I felt bad because I thought they were forced to be with me.”
“Some of my classmates teased me. When I reacted I was caught by my teachers and
complains went to my parents.”
Students who moved from special setting to a mainstream school.
“I did not know why I had to go to a regular school. I did not know what I was supposed to do.
I felt alone and hated everything around me.”
My classmates helped me a lot for taking notes, going to library, doing assignments and many
more things. But I am not sure if I had friends.”
“I moved from special school to a regular school for my secondary education. The special
school had given me all inputs and good education foundation. But this was exciting because
it was from here that I faced challenges and began to explore how to meet them. I like the
challenges. I had to prove that I can do many things. I had to make efforts from my side even
to make friends”

In the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Program, children with all disabilities were included. Some of the children with intellectual disabilities greatly benefited specially in social inclusion. In schools where teachers and resource teachers collaborated they also benefited academically.

Here is what some of the teachers had to share.
“Disabled children need to have special attention. We have no training or time. they have to
go to special schools.”
“I am proud to have this child as my student. He is my responsibility. He is clever. But I have
to know what to do for him.”
There are laws, policies, programs and schemes for inclusive education. But when officials are
approached for reasonable accommodations they know and look at only ramps lifts and
braille books. As far as academic process is concerned officials look only exemptions and not
facilities. So if someone on a wheelchair or a person with low vision wants to do science or
computers they are discouraged since according to them they cannot give exemption for
doing practical. But they do not even consider an accessible lab/lab equipment or lab assistant
or accessible computers.So as far as the children are concerned inclusion is a natural process. It gives children with
and without disabilities a chance to know each other and most often accept differences more
easily. But the adult who are suppose to guide the children seem to have mind blocks because
they have no exposure. It is here that attitudinal barriers will have to be broken
Enrollment of children with disabilities without support systems and support persons is doing
a dis-service to the child. If inclusion has to be successful then mainstream teachers and
resource teachers will need to work together in capacity building of each other planning the
programs and implementing them together.
Similarly all acts, policies and programs will be beautiful pieces of writing unless the officials
at the field level are aware of the developments. adults whether they are special teachers,
mainstream teachers, parents, principals, or government officials… all have to believe in the
evolving capacity of children with disabilities and accept the children’s write to inclusion.
Dipti Bhatia
Chief Executive Officer
National Association for the Blind
Tamil Nadu State Branch