Social Acceptance: One Day You're In, the Next You're Out

by Trudi Francis
Faculty advisor: Dr. Robbie Ludy

Social exclusion is experienced by almost everyone at some point in their lifetime.  Most people are excluded for materialistic things such as exterior looks or demonstrated behavior, but some individuals appear to be at greater risk for social exclusion than others.  These would include individuals of racial or cultural diversity, extreme socioeconomic status, or disability/exceptionality.  Despite the passage of the Education of All Handicapped Children Act (P.L.94-142) more than 35 years ago and a purposeful effort to educate individuals in inclusive settings, children with disabilities continue to experience social exclusion while in school more than their nonhandicapped peers.  It is obvious, mere placement of students with disabilities in general education settings is not enough to ensure acceptance.  This lack of acceptance carries over to adulthood and the likelihood of successful transition of individuals to become contributing members of society once they leave the school setting.  What factors associated with disability increase the likelihood of social exclusion?  What strategies hold the most promise for educators to reduce the risk of exclusion?  How can all individuals promote a culture of inclusion rather than exclusion?  This presentation explores these components and offers suggestions for both educators and families to increase the likelihood of a future, more inclusive society.