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Special Education, History of

The special education movement can be characterized as having three major phases, exclusion and isolation, access and inclusion, and accountability and empowerment. Historically, up until the mid-1960s and 1970s, disability was viewed as an abnormality or “freak of nature,” and individuals who had disabilities were forced into isolation and exclusion. During the civil rights era through the 1980s, parents and advocates pushed to shift this perspective and gain rights for individuals with disabilities through access and inclusion. From the 1990s to the present, individuals with disabilities have become empowered and are working toward redefining their role and identity in society as a cultural phenomenon rather than inferior to able-bodied, able-minded individuals in the dominant mainstream. Additionally, systems such as case law and statutes, public and ...

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