Advanced Essay #3: Educational Discrimination - Nicholas Ryan

My goals for this paper was to educate any unknowing reader about the injustices committed against people with disabilities. It's a huge problem to me that people still don't know about these issues that are taking place right under their noses, and they should at least be aware of that and then they can decide what to do with that knowledge. However, if there are so many people who don't know about this issue, then how can we, people with disabilities, hope to elevate our position in society? That was my goal, to give people the knowledge of a pressing issue that's taking place right now and to give them the choice of choosing what to do with that knowledge.​ I think my strong suits were the analyzations of my sources and my scene of memory. I went dug deep into these quotes and really analyzed what it meant for the disabled community. And I think I did a really good job connecting my analyses to my scene of memory too, because it created a much stronger impact for it. My weakest points of this paper was my choices for sources. A lot of my sources were outdated, but they were still relevant. It still would've helped to have more recent sources that may have quoted the old sources I used. Then, I could have more recent information on this issue.

Advanced Essay:

People with disabilities make up 15% percent of the world, and they continues to grow. They’ve been around since the dawn of humanity, and during this time, they’ve been discriminated against, had countless injustices committed against them, and have been isolated away from society. People with disabilities were caged, probed, experimented on, and left to sleep in their own feces. This incapacitated them even more than they were. It was inhumane and cruel. It fixed the perspective that disabled people have no place in society and are inferior to non-disabled people, and this still takes place today, especially in the education system.

In 1978, Ed Roberts, an impactful leader of the Disability Rights movement performed a speech at a CIL hearing, discussing the advancements the movement he had fought so much for. He was also revealing the issues that was still present regardless of the advancements made. Roberts stated, The prevailing factor, and the most difficulty that people with disabilities have, is the underdevelopment of our communities and of our society.” Roberts is stating that due to the underdeveloped society, people with disabilities have had a lot of difficulty fitting into society and becoming a part of society. The problem with popular culture is that they have a fixated view on people with disabilities. The view being that they are inferior mentally and socially, and they enforce these views on them, making them self-conscious in their ability to live among non-disabled people. This discrimination is representative of society’s norms surrounding the culture of people with disabilities, which is to throw them into a corner and exclude them from participating in society with the rest of abled people. People who do not have any kind of disability believe themselves to be superior to those with disabilities socially because of the misconception that a disability lowers your social ability to communicate with everyone else. And the way society “takes care” of people with disabilities, especially today, has done nothing but reinforce all of these misconceptions about people with disabilities into them.

Gunnar Dybwad, who was an educator and advocate for disabled rights, wrote a book discussing how society handles people who are mentally challenged/disabled institutionally and how it worsens their conditions further than what their conditions call for. He stated, “Today’s more comprehensive knowledge has made it clear that such unilateral identification is most misleading and apt to hinder effective program development, whether in practice, teaching, or research.”(Dybwad, 1) This is just stating that categorizing mentally challenged/disabled people only worsens the way society and institutions treat them. Categorizing them is unfair since every single one is different in their own way and they need their own specialized learning plan in order for them to rehabilitate, grow, and prepare to become a part of society. They shouldn’t be categorized and receive treatment based on their category. The education system back then negatively affected children with disabilities, putting them on a path to failure. All because of the belief that they are not as good as people without disabilities.

But, with the advancement of the Disability Rights Movement in the 1960s, all of that was supposed to have changed. It didn’t. Instead, society and the government only found new ways to discriminate against people with disabilities. The discrimination now occurs within the education system, students with disabilities continue to be affected. This type of treatment, isolating children with disabilities and categorizing them as their own group in schools, is still enforced in today’s education system. Teachers and administrators of the education system continue to isolate people with disabilities, by putting them in different classrooms and separating them from all the other “normal” children. This reinforces the oppressive ideas into the children with disabilities’ heads. Raising them with negative and restrictive ideas about their ability to live and function in society. And they justify these actions through the means of pity and lack of expectation. Teachers, who are supposed to be leaders to children, have such extremely low expectations for children with disabilities and they pity them, so they “do them good” by isolating them in their own space, stuck in their bubble where they’ll never learn to become a part of society. They’re taught that they are an entirely different species compared to the “normal” kids, and they go about the rest of their lives with this attitude.

I know this because of my own personal experience. I went to a demonstration school, which means that it is a school that specializes in demonstrating different programs that are specifically for special-needs children. There was a program for autistic children, emotionally disabled children, and deaf children. I was in the deaf children’s program. I remember many times where I was told, by my teachers, that I was not going to make it in life, not become successful because of my disability. They told me I had no chance. However, I was able to look past what all my teachers said and succeed regardless. They also tried to keep me in my own bubble with the rest of the deaf children, teaching me that I only belong with them. And in that bubble, they dumbed down the deaf kids by limiting their academic potential with overly-simplistic learning plans. But, my mother and I had fought for a better learning environment because we knew I had a lot of potential, even as a young child, so I was put into a classroom with all the other kids who didn’t have disabilities. Soon after, more deaf kids from my program followed and joined me, and they were able to do much better than they were expected to do. But, the other kids from the deaf program and other programs were not so lucky. In my program and the other programs, the students’ grades were suffering and there was no reinforcement of their capabilities. They just gave up on them and expected them to fail.

This only worsened their situation within the educational system. They were literally being set up to fail because they had no confidence in themselves, in their identity as someone who has a disability. They were not supported or taught that they can do so much better than what everyone else expects them to. The current educational system fails at rehabilitating these children and it’s designed to ensure their failure in society.


  • Dybwad, Gunnar. "Mental Retardation". Social Work Year Book, 1960.

  • Roberts, Ed. “C.I.L A.M Sessions.” Testimony on CIL. Testimony on CIL, 5 May 1978, Berkeley, California.