Special Educational Needs and Disability in Sports and Physical Activites

The world has seen a lot of changes over the centuries regarding human rights and human equality. Recognising these rights and need for equality is an essential part of living in a diverse society. Perhaps some of the most ostracized people in the world are those living with disabilities. This is mainly because many people tend to take the literal meaning of a disability and apply it to the…….such that activities or events fail to be inclusive of people with disabilities (PWD). Human Rights activists propose that the way we define terms such as disability and special needs also contributes to the attitudes and impressions of PWD as well as others in the society.
The Sports section is one such area where activists work to redefine the role of society in engaging PWD and special educational needs.

Definition of Terms

Disability is a normal part of living as a human being. However, the extent of a disability and the impact it has on an individual is what matters. According to numerous sources, a person with a disability is one who has a physical or mental impairment which is long-term and has a substantial effect on how they carry out normal day-to-day activities. It is important to note that the main aspects which make an individual fall under this category are ruled by time and normal human physical and mental capacity. For instance, while a broken leg impairs one’s physical mobility for a few months, this does not pass for a disability as the constraints are only temporary and recuperative.
Theorists and activists alike argue that the whole construct of being disabled is actually caused by how society is organized and not the impairment of an individual. In essence, theorists argue that a disability is present when there are barriers, social, emotional or functional barriers, to normal performance; barriers that society should be well equipped to handle ……….. of the social model of disability propose that eradicating these barriers is the first step to ensuring equality.

Special Educational Needs

When human beings are growing up, learning becomes an educational need which is necessary if children are to properly integrate into society. However, there are those children who require more attention when learning relatively similar things. Children with special educational needs are, therefore, those with challenges that make it difficult for them to learn compared to their peers or other children of the same age.
There are several categories which institutions use when assessing whether children require special educational needs but generally, such pupils may have problems with their schoolwork or communication and behavior. Specifically, the Department of Education in England recognizes several types of needs including but not limited to special learning difficulty, moderate learning difficulty, social, emotional and mental health, speech language and communication needs, autistic spectrum disorder, and other difficulties.
According to the 2018 Survey on special educational needs in England, 14.6% of pupils in England require special educational needs. This figure translates to 1,276,215 of the total number of pupils. The most common primary type of need is the moderate learning difficulty which affects 24% of the pupils. Other common primary types of need include speech language and communication and social, emotional and mental health which affect 22.8% and 17.5% of the pupils respectively. With respect to the sports industry, another survey noted that more than 70% of individuals living with any form of disability do not participate at all in any sport while only 24%-30% participate in a sporting activity occasionally.
Such high figures or lack of participation are why activists are pushing for all round inclusiveness and reforms for PWD.

Disability Sport

Sherrill (1999) defines disability sport as a “recreational, competitive and Paralympic sports for people with disabilities. Various organizations also refer to these individuals as athletes with disabilities. As the term suggest, disability sports is largely limited to those with physical and mental needs which makes it difficult for them to participate on an equal ground with other competitors in conventional sports. However, the scope of disability sport may vary in different regions. For instance, some countries don’t recognize deafness as a disability in sport since this impairment does not limit their performance considerably.
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