Inclusion Of Learners With Disabilities – Story from Mexico

Equality And Non-Discrimination

Education for children, youth and adults with disabilities is part of the Education 2030 agenda, but is often neglected by states and ministries of education.  Furthermore, States need to acknowledge that well trained, paid, supported and qualified teachers have a key role to play in delivering the right to education for all, and commit resources to ensure lifelong and inclusive teacher trainings.

 

My Story

Luz Elena is a 8-year-old girl with visual impairment who lives in Zapotal, an indigenous rural community on the coast of Oaxaca, Mexico.

Luz Elena was born with this disability, and since she was a couple of weeks old, began the
capacity building process with her family. The mom of Luz Elena was for several years
trained in early stimulation every 15 days in Piña Palmera and participated in the group
of empowering families in which other relatives of children with disabilities participate
and share important issues of their processes, such as the acceptance of the
disability and all the situations and emotions they face in having a child with a disability.

The biggest challenge in this first stage was the overprotection of Luz Elena by her
mom, who made it hard for Luz Elena to socialise, talk, and play with other children. At the same time, it was also difficult for the family to accept Luz Elena’s disability and in several moments they went to look for new doctors and opinions to settle their doubt if there was any treatment for Luz Elena to explore. This was obviously an expense of both money and time.

Due to these circumstances, Piña Palmera suggested to the family that Luz Elena be integrated into the preschool as soon as possible, to promote her socialisation and independence.The family accepted, although with great fear, and contacted the local preschool in their community. It turns out that Luz Elena entered pre-school as a 2-year-old in the capacity of “listener” (for not having the required age) and an inclusion process with awareness workshops was initiated with the teacher, the students and the families of the community. There was also an accompaniment and constant monitoring every month with the teacher of the school, who had no experience in the field of disability, and because of this had many doubts, fear, and confusion in terms of how to support the process of inclusion.

The main trainer in this process was Mariano, a young man who is also blind, who was able to share his own experiences and train the teacher and the mother in topics of inclusion, adapting the space, materials and teaching strategies for promoting inclusion in the group of students. Along with this process, Luz Elena and her mother went to the early intervention group and the group of empowering families in Piña Palmera where they reflected on their fears, the issue of overprotection and the independence of Luz Elena, among others.

In the last year of pre-school the teacher took the initiative in collaboration with Piña Palmera to link up with the primary school of the community to prepare the teacher to receive Luz Elena and promote her inclusion from the beginning. In this last year of pre-school, the Braille training for the teacher, the mom, and Luz was also started, with follow-up every 15 days with Piña Palmera, which resulted in Luz knowing the Braille alphabet when she left pre-school, and facilitated her learning in primary school.

Upon entering primary school, the biggest challenge was the ignorance on the part of the teacher in how to promote the inclusion of Luz Elena and how to teach Luz so that she could learn. At the same time there is the mother’s fear that Luz was not going to learn like the other children.

As in the preschool, awareness workshops were provided to the teachers, students and families of the community. Now there is a follow-up of training in strategies to promote inclusion and Braille training to the teacher at the school every 15 days. At the same time, the mother and Luz Elena continue to train in Braille at Piña Palmera every 15 days.

Today we can see the results of this eight-year process: Luz Elena is already included in her family, community, and school. She has friends and is no longer afraid to socialise, and likes to participate in social and cultural events. She has learned significantly in school and knows how to read and write Braille. She moves around with the support of a cane. Her family has already accepted the disability and has changed their attitude towards their daughter without overprotecting her.

The pre-school teacher is already an example for other teachers in the subject of disability and inclusion and has changed their teaching strategies. Now they have a girl with a hearing disability included in their classroom and continue working for inclusion and non-discrimination.

The elementary school teacher has already overcome his fears and doubts, knows how to read and write Braille, and has new teaching strategies to promote inclusion in his classroom.



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