Disability, Human Rights and Education: Cross Cultural Perspectives

By Felicity Armstrong; Len Barton | Go to book overview

8

Special education and human rights
in Australia: how do we know about
disablement, and what does it mean
for educators?
Roger Slee
Overview
Many educators fail to see educational disablement as an issue of human rights. For them, the education of the so-called 'special educational needs' student is a technical issue to be played out through a highly bureaucratized medical model of diagnosis and treatment which is described and pursued through a redistribution of resources and 'expert' personnel. That this is so is not surprising. Our understanding of disability has been shaped by an ensemble of powerful knowledge that establishes impairment as individual defect and disabled people as objects for treatment and research by professional experts. Knowing disability and disablement (Oliver, 1990) in education has not been responsive to the growing body of disability studies led by disabled researchers. For this reason understanding disablement in schools and other educational sites remains incomplete. Most importantly the knowledge, for too many educators, is not undergirded by an established principle of political struggle for 'rights of passage'.
Introduction
Prior to the formal announcement of the 3 October 1998 federal election in Australia, the political psyche seemed fixed on issues of 'race'. The confluence of a number of factors contributed to this disposition:
The successes of the Mabo and Ors v. The State of Queensland (1992) and Wik High Court ruling (1996) that native title could coexist with pastoral rights and pastoral leases, which, in turn, led to subsequent state and federal native title legislation (Native Title Act 1993).

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