Disability, Human Rights and Education: Cross Cultural Perspectives

By Felicity Armstrong; Len Barton | Go to book overview

Foreword

Mike Oliver

In recent years the increasing pace of globalization and the virtual disappearance of colonialism have had an important impact on the academy. As academics we can no longer pursue our own interests secure in the knowledge that our intellectual activities are bounded by our nation state or merely ponder on how we can export our ideas to the rest of the world. We have been forced to recognize that we have as much, if not more, to learn from others as they have from us.

In the newly emerging area of disability studies this is as true as it is in other more established parts of the academic curriculum. This book makes an outstanding contribution both to our understanding of disability and to developing a global approach to disability studies. It takes as its focus the concept of human rights and seeks to apply it both to the issues of disability and education but it recognizes that the very idea of human rights is itself problematic.

Each of the chapters develops its own understanding of human rights located within the society and culture it discusses and what quickly emerges from these individual discussions is that these different conceptions both shape particular meanings and definitions of disability which in turn produce different educational responses to disability.

What is refreshing about the individual contributions is that they adopt a critical and reflective approach based upon insider perspectives. This is unlike much comparative work which merely reproduces dominant, and usually, government's own descriptive perspectives on what is happening. As such the book will not be a comfortable read either for those of us who think we are doing quite well in establishing the human rights of disabled people nor those who would like to do better when circumstances allow.

This book, therefore, provides an important example of the way we need to approach our attempts to understand the worlds to which we are moving, not

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