Impact of Social Inclusion among Persons Living With Disabilities

Collated Research Critique and Report of Proposed Research


Impact of Social Inclusion among Persons Living With Disabilities

Social exclusion is one of the greatest challenges that people living with disabilities face. Social exclusion and marginalization of the disabled occurs at various levels of society, including learning institutions. Traditionally, people living with various disabilities attend special institutions meant to cater to their special needs. Over the last decade, there have been a progressive shift in the education policies in favor of inclusive education. In this type of education, persons with disabilities are accommodated in mainstream classrooms, fostering interactions with normal students. Nonetheless, some countries are yet to implement inclusive education in their educational curriculum, preferring to use special schools for the disabled. Special needs education aims at providing a conducive environment to the disabled that is less restrictive. Available literature indicates that inclusion of persons with disabilities in mainstream education has significant positive benefits compared to special needs education. Nonetheless, inclusion in mainstream education has its own challenges which educators must adequately address. In particular, general education teachers may find it difficult teaching students with disabilities. Such challenges include planning, inadequate resources, and lack of training.


In the recent past, students with disabilities are increasingly being integrated in mainstream classrooms. There is little research indicating the benefits of inclusion in mainstream classes over the special schools for those who have various impairments such as mental challenges, autism spectrum disorder, and other challenges. Additionally, few researchers have dwelled on the possible consequences that may arise out of social inclusion of students with special needs in mainstream classes. Educators have pointed out that there are serious challenges that may occur when students with disabilities are allowed in mainstream classes. There is limited research detailing the challenges that educators may face in the inclusion of students with disabilities in mainstream education.

Objectives: This research addresses four questions in relation to social inclusion of students with disabilities in mainstream classes. The main objectives of this study are as follows: (1) To establish the impacts of social inclusion in mainstream classes among persons living with disabilities; (2) To identify the challenges of integrating learning among the disabled with mainstream education; (3) To establish activities in local communities that can be used to help the disabled improve their social interaction skills and inclusivity in the community; (4) To identify measures that can be used alleviate marginalization of the disabled in the community.

Search Strategy: The search strategy applied involved conducting searches of relevant articles while varying the search keywords. This was meant to increase the chances of obtaining relevant materials to use in the study. The search was also conducted from relevant social work databases. Reference lists from various articles relating to the topic were also utilized as potential sources of information. Books relating to the topic under investigation were also retrieved from the library. All items searched are less than 10 years. This was mainly for the purpose of maintaining relevance in the study.

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Selection Criteria: This research utilizes journals and books relevant to the topic. All the resources used are peer reviewed for quality and accuracy purposes. All journals and books used are less than 10 years so as to enhance their relevance to the topic. The sources used exclude those that specifically look at the visually impaired and the blind. The research method used in the studies were also included as a selection criteria. Studies included primarily employed analytical methods in their investigation.

Data Collection and Analysis: A total of 20 sources were initially considered. These comprised of journal articles, books, and organization-based reports. A total of 11 sources that met the aforementioned criteria were included. The studies included are mainly those that employed analytical methods in their evaluation. The sources included thus comprise of those studies that conducted their investigation of the research problem using an empirical analysis or a meta-analysis of existing studies. Only a few studies that use meta-analytic technique were included in the study.

Main Results: The main results are based on qualitative analysis of the selected sources. Data from the various studies was analysed and conclusion reached based on the robustness of the studies. Poverty among the disabled is closely connected to lack of education opportunities, unequal job opportunities in the market, and challenges in access to health facilities (Trani & Loeb, 2012). The welfare of the disabled can be improved by use of legal bodies. This is through lobbying for equal rights for the disabled in the society (Borg, Bergman, & Ostergren, 2013). There is sufficient evidence indicating that inclusion of disabled students in mainstream classes has significant positive benefits (Ferguson, 2008; Wang, 2009; Lindsay et al., 2013; Dessemontet, Bless, & Morin, 2012; Lerner & Lamb, 2015). Lamport, Graves, & Ward (2012) found sufficient evidence on the positive impacts of students with disabilities engaging in interactive social activities such as playing. Sufficient evidence indicates that the concept of social inclusion and social capital are closely interlinked (Rimmerman, 2013). Poverty and disability are also closely interlinked concepts (Barron & Ncube, 2010; Simplican et al., 2015).

Conclusion and Recommendations: There is overwhelming evidence indicating that social inclusion has significant positive benefits to students with disabilities. Research results indicate that students with disabilities are much better when they receive education through mainstream classes compared to the special education classes. However, inclusion of students with disabilities in mainstream classes pose various challenges relating to availability of resources, lack of training among teachers, and planning issues. It is recommended that careful planning and evaluation of available resources to be conducted prior to the inclusion of students with disabilities in mainstream classes.


Barron, T., & Ncube J.M. (2010). Poverty and Disability. London: Leonard Cheshire Disability.

Borg, J., Bergman, A. K., & Ostergren, P. O. (2013). Is ‘legal empowerment of the poor’ relevant to people with disabilities in developing countries? An empirical and normative        review. Global Health Action, 6(10): 1-33.

Dessemontet, R.S., Bless, G. & Morin, D. (2012). Effects of inclusion on the academic     achievement and adaptive behavior of children with intellectual disabilities. Journal of         Intellectual Disability Research, 56 (6), 579–587.

Ferguson, D. L. (2008). International trends in inclusive education: the continuing challenge to    teach each one and everyone. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 23(2): 109-       120. DOI: 10.1080/08856250801946236

Lamport, M. A., Graves, L., & Ward, A. (2012). Special needs students in inclusive classrooms: The impact of social interaction on educational outcomes for learners with emotional and        behavioral disabilities. European Journal of Business and Social Sciences, 1(5): 54-69.

Lerner, R. M., & Lamb, M. E. (2015). Handbook of child psychology and developmental science.             Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Lindsay, S., Proulx, M., Thomson, N., & Scott, H. (2013). Educators’ challenges of including      children with autism spectrum disorder in mainstream classrooms. International Journal    of Disability, Development and Education, 60(4): 3-49.

Rimmerman, A. (2013). Social inclusion of people with disabilities: national and international    perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Simplican, S. C., Leader, G., Kosciulek, J., & Leahy, M. (2015). Defining social inclusion of       people with intellectual and developmental disabilities: an ecological model of social   networks and community participation. Research in Development Disabilities, 38(3): 18-       29.

Trani, J. F., & Loeb, M. (2012). Poverty and disability: A vicious circle? Evidence from   Afghanistan and Zambia. Journal of International Development, 24(4): 19–52.

Wang, H. L. (2009). Should all students with special educational needs (SEN) be included in       mainstream education provision? – A critical analysis. European Journal of Special      Needs Education, 2(4): 231-246.

Part 2

Report of Proposed Research

Inclusion of learners with disabilities in mainstream classes has introduced new challenges in the education sector. The dynamics of this kind of educational setting are not yet understood. With the new trend setting in, a typical class will comprise of students with varied abilities and potentials. For instance, educators will find themselves with learners who have varied behaviors and characteristics such as slow learners, hyperactive learners, those with autism spectrum disorder, mentally challenged learners, gifted learners and other type of learners. The resulting diverse combination of learners will pose tremendous challenges to classroom management. It may be difficult for teachers to cater for individual differences of each learner especially where there are high number of special needs students. Nonetheless, studies indicate that inclusion may be the best for students with disabilities, without considering the challenges it poses to teachers.

There is limited research on the challenges that teachers may face in including learners with disabilities in mainstream classes. Most of the research available focuses on the impacts of inclusion on learners with disabilities, neglecting the impacts inclusion has on teachers. There is need to document impacts of inclusion of learners with disabilities so that policy makers can use this information to make appropriate decisions. Teachers may face multiple challenges in trying to accommodate learners with special needs. These challenges can only be well understood through a detailed research of the problem. There is also limited research on the impacts of inclusion to the overall quality of instruction provided by teachers. The quality of instruction impacts educational outcomes or goals of education. This study will examine the impacts of inclusion on teachers and the quality of instruction provided.

Research Question

Inclusion of learners with disabilities in mainstream classes has brought new and unexpected challenges in the education sector. This paper will examine issues that may impact teachers and the quality of instruction given in typical inclusive classrooms. In particular, the following research questions will be addressed in the paper.

  • What are the main challenges faced by teachers when learners with disabilities are placed in mainstream classes?

  • What impacts does including learners with disabilities have on the learning outcomes and quality of instruction provided?


A qualitative study will be used to answer the research questions mentioned above. Interviews will be used to collect information from teachers who have experienced inclusion of disabled learners in their classrooms. The sample will comprise of teachers at elementary levels who have handled integrated classrooms for over a period of one year. A total of 50 participants will be interviewed. Initial contact and request for participation will be made by via telephone calls to selected schools. Those who agree to participate in the interview will give an appropriate time when the research team can meet up with them to conduct the interviews. In-depth interviews will be conducted analyzing the opinions of all participants. Semi-structured interviews will be conducted. Semi-structured interviews give respondents room to share their thoughts concerning the topic (Galletta & Cross, 2013). The following interview questions will be used:

  • Describe the differences in your former and current experiences in teaching learners at mainstream classes.

  • How has the achievement of teaching goals (class performance, syllabus coverage) been affected by inclusion of learners with disabilities?

  • What challenges have you experienced in teaching mainstream classrooms having learners with disabilities?

This study will take the form of an exploratory research. Future studies are expected to provide more details regarding the topic area. Analysis of the interview results will be conducted by the interview team following the completion of all scheduled interviews. The team will identify any emerging themes as given by the respondents. Appropriate models will also be used in the analysis to give robust study results.

Ethical issues

A number of ethical issues may emerge in conducting this study. First, ethical issues relating to confidentiality may emerge. Confidentiality is of great concern in any type of study or research undertaken (Russell, Hogan, & Junker-Kenny, 2013). Respondents should be assured of confidentiality of information they give to the research team. To ensure confidentiality during the interviews, none of the respondents will be named. Instead, pseudo names will be used to hide the respondent’s true identity. Another ethical issue involves permission. Express permission must be sought from all respondents in writing prior to participating in the interviews. Permission will also be obtained from the school administration to use the school grounds as a venue for conducting the interviews. Specific procedures to be observed in conducting the interviews will also be outlined. This will avoid any confusion that may arise while conducting the interviews. There are limited risks that can arise in conducting the interview. In addition, there are more benefits to be derived by educational policy makers from the results of the interview.


This research has a number of implications to policy makers, educational practitioners, researchers, and students. This research will be of greatest benefit to educational policy makers. The research will help in identifying the possible impacts of including learners with disabilities in mainstream classes with regard to teachers’ workload and quality of instruction. In particular, the research will help policy makers in making decisions regarding whether to provide inclusive education to learners with disabilities or to offer special education. The research will be of great importance to other educational practitioners in mainstream education without the disabled since it will provide them with advance knowledge on challenges they may experience in inclusive mainstream classes. This will enable them to be better prepared. Lastly, this research will be important to researchers since it will lay the foundation for future research.


Galletta, A., & Cross, W. E. (2013). Mastering the semi-structured interview and beyond: From research design to analysis and publication.

Russell, C., Hogan, L., & Junker-Kenny, M. (2013). Ethics for graduate researchers: A cross-     disciplinary approach. London: Elsevier.

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