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At least since the 1975 passage of the "Education for All Handicapped Children Act," public school teachers have had to adapt to the occasional presence in their classrooms of children with disabilities. Some of these disabilities are physical and affect a child's movement; others, also physical but less visible, are neurological and affect a child's mental or emotional state. Increasingly, schools offer special education programs for the latter category that usually involves specially-trained councillors working one-on-one with the disabled child.
How well a teacher is able to incorporate a disabled child into the classroom, while minimizing disruptions to the other students, depends on a number of factors, including the nature of the disability, the number of children in the classroom, and the teacher's level of training. Teachers are expected to be tolerant and to work with the other students to make certain that they are sensitive to the unique requirements of the disabled classmate. If the disability requires use of a wheelchair, the task is relatively simple, as the teacher and other school administrators would only have to ensure the wheelchair-bound student can manuever within the classroom and around the campus. This generally involves ramps when appropriate so the wheelchair can enter and exit buildings and rooms without difficulty.
There are special schools for the blind and for the deaf that specialize in educating children with those disabilities. Whether those children can eventually be included in a regular classroom is entirely dependent upon the individual situation.
The main concerns for teachers, then, involve the physical restrictions on a disabled child's ability to move and keep up with the other students, especially on field trips; the tolerance the teacher is able to instill in the other children regarding the special needs of the disabled child; the teacher's level of training to properly care for a child with special needs, including the disruptions to the normal flow of a classroom that can result from some types of disabilities. Public schools are required to make every effort at accommodating the special needs of disabled children. That means that principals, teachers, social workers, and others are all involved in the ensuring that disabled children are not at a disadvantage in the area of education.
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