What is the impact of cultural diversity on special education?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the greatest impact of cultural diversity on special education is that the teacher must act a both instructor and advocate for families.  When we examine cultural diversity and linguistic diversity in special education, it becomes clear that such children are fighting through some formidable challenges.  With placement in special education, something has been diagnosed and when cultural diversity in the form of linguistic diversity is added, one can see how the special education teacher has to act as an even greater advocate.  The impact this has on special education is that team facilitators have to continually ask themselves if there are cultural or linguistic biases in the education system and then at as the buffer between the families and these biases.  

For culturally diverse families who might be linguistically diverse, the special education system with paperwork, language, and meetings can be challenging.  Consider someone new to the American special education system walking in for a 504 meeting or a Reevaluation with administration, multiple school personnel, district personnel, and teachers, all of whom know one another, probably speak the same language to one another, and are ready to commence and finish the meeting. The language, paperwork, signing of forms could be extremely challenging. (I know that I feel uncomfortable at one of these meetings and I speak the language and am a teacher at the school.  I can only imagine what a parent who doesn't speak the language and has no advocate or buffer must be experiencing.)  

This becomes the greatest impact on special education professionals.  The impact  of culturally and linguistically diverse realities on special education professionals is the need to be a buffer and act as an advocate for these families in the most zealous way possible.  It is already a responsibility to ensure that the child is made to feel that their needs are being met.  The impact of cultural diversity and linguistic diversity on special education is to also make sure that the family's needs are being met by a system that could present itself as being overwhelming to someone unaccustomed to it.