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Students with disabilities are more
similar than dissimilar to their peers.
First and foremost -- they are students.
The first step in teaching students with disabilities seems obvious: treat
them, simply, as you would all students. After all, they come to college
for the same reasons others do and they bring with them the same range of
backgrounds, intelligence and scholastic skills. Yet these truths are easier
said than acted upon. Our best intentions are often thwarted by attitudes
that dramatically distort our relations with people who have disabilities.
Attitudes that distort our relations with people who have disabilities, may
seem innocent, deriving from lack of experience with individuals who have
disabilities. However, distorting attitudes can be devastating to the person
with a disability. Unfounded or inappropriate attitudes reduce or color our
expectations of the individual's performance.
Such attitudes define the person by the disability, not by the person's
humanness, as if a disability comprises the entirety of his or her being.
These attitudes lead us to isolate and segregate people with disabilities;
to hurt their pride and to damage their confidence. Unfounded or
inappropriate attitudes can, at times, be more ~ disabling than any K
Stereotyping prevails no more on campus than it does in the larger society.
In college, though, it not only perpetuates the prejudicial treatment
encountered by people with disabilities elsewhere, but may also undermine
scholastic performance or access to education opportunities.
Revising our perceptions and attitudes is the first step in accommodating
students who learn or perform in ways that are different from others.
It is vital to remember that similarities
among all students are much more
significant than their differences: we are
dealing, first and foremost, with