Збірник наукових праць

Improving services for children with disabilities in Ukraine

Mary Konya Weishaar, Ph.D.

(Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders

Southern  Illinois  University Edwardsville)


Данная статья «Улучшение услуг для детей-инвалидов» касается создания программ поддержки студентов с недостатками в Украине и США. Здесь очерчены главная цель и направленность деятельности Университета "Украина", что находится в Киеве. Названный университет, что был создан П. Таланчуком, занимается именно предоставлением образования студентам с недостатками разных форм и степеней сложности и является единственным и лидирующим университетом такой специализации в Украине. В статье описаны также законы, что касаются людей с недостатками в США, которые были приняты в 1975 и 1990 гг. Первый базируется на шести принципах, которые отмечены с небольшим объяснением в статье. А вывод из всего сказанного такой: американские законы, а также принципы, на которых они базируются, могут быть очень полезными для украинских служб  поддержки людей с недостатками.

 The experience and law of the United States might provide a foundation for developing an organized system of support for students with disabilities in Ukraine. If these six principles were included in Ukrainian schools, all

children with disabilities from the ages of three to twenty-one would have the opportunity to receive an appropriate individualized education within an integrated environment. They would be more likely to succeed, not only at the university,  but also by becoming productive members  of society.

University "Ukraine" has become a leader in the support and education of students with disabilities in an integrated environment. With the addition of integrated education from the ages of three through twenty-one, University "Ukraine " would be in a position to assist students in achieving greater success.


During fall, 2002, the author worked as a Fulbright Senior Scholar at Open International University of Human Development, or University "Ukraine", in Kyiv. This university served over 11,000 students per year in several regions of Ukraine and was founded in 1999 by Professor Petro Talanchuk, the first Minister of Education of Independent Ukraine. One of the primary purposes of the university was to "integrate people with disabilities into society" and "modification of examination and study regulations in recognition of special needs for disabled to be given equal opportunities to participate in study". Approximately 10% of the student body had a disability, including blind and partially sighted, deaf and hearing impaired, physical disabilities, and health impaired. The author's understanding was that the mission of University "Ukraine", to serve students with disabilities, was unique and did not occur in other universities in Ukraine.

While teaching classes at University "Ukraine", the author worked with several students who had disabilities. Out of about 60 students in the au­ thor's classes, approximately 10 had obvious disabilities. Students with dis­ abilities were bright, eager, and largely successful in the classes. However, it was also observed that these students often sat by themselves in classes and did not participate as much as their nondisabled peers. The author was told that students with disabilities experienced some difficulty adjusting to the learning environment because this was the first time in their school careers that they had been taught in an integrated environment.

The United States of America (USA) has a long history of mandating services through law to meet the needs of students with disabilities. Two laws passed by the American Congress during the past twenty-seven years were essential in assuring that students with disabilities received appropriate services. The first law was enacted in 1975 and, due to a name change, is currently known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This law mandated that children with disabilities between the ages of three and twenty-one be identified and that public schools provide appropriate, individualized services for each child. A major theme of this law was to educate children with disabilities with their nondisabled peers as much as possible. If one observed in a public school in the USA, many children who have disabilities would be learning in the same classrooms as children without disabilities and special education services would be provided to assist these children in suc­ ceeding in integrated environments. The schools were also responsible for helping children with disabilities transition into the community, including the universities, if appropriate, when they graduated from secondary school.

A second major law for people with disabilities was enacted in 1990. This law, the Americans with Disabilities Act, has been referred to as the "bill of rights" for persons with disabilities in the USA. Its purpose was to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities at any age and in many areas, including employment in the private sector, privately owned public accommo­ dations (e.g., theaters, restaurants, stores, markets), services provided by state and municipal governments (including public transportation), and tel­ ecommunications (for people with hearing or visual impairments). In the USA, there were many obvious changes in the community, including the following examples: new buses and metro systems were be wheelchair accessible, pub­ lic telephones had telecommunication devices for the hearing impaired, em­ ployers made reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities by making existing facilities accessible, job restructuring, or assignment of peo­ ple to other vacancies, shops and markets had wheelchair-accessible eleva­ tors and public toilets. In addition, universities provided appropriate services to students with disabilities so that students had equal access to programs.

Both of these laws were against exclusion of persons with disabilities. The Individuals with Disabilities with Education Act mandated special educa­ tion services in public schools so that students with disabilities learned the skills they needed to succeed and were integrated with other children to the greatest extent possible. The Americans with Disabilities Act was intended to knock down the barriers that kept people with disabilities from fully partici­ pating in society. To a large extent, both laws were successful. Principles of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act When students with disabilities enter the university in the USA, they often have had experience with learning in an integrated environment. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act man­ dates that all students, ages three through twenty-one, receive a free appro­ priate public education. This appropriate education, for many students, means integration with other nondisabled children in the learning environment. The law is founded upon six principles. These principles are described below.

Child Find and Zero Reject

The first principle is called child find and zero reject. Child find means that all local public schools are required to locate children with disabilities who are not being served and to inform parents of programs available. Zero reject means that a local public school cannot refuse to serve, or reject, a student with a disability no matter what the nature and /or degree of the disability.

Nondiscriminatory  Assessment

The second principle is called nondiscriminatory assessment. Tests used to identify children with disabilities must be free from racial and cultural bias and must not discriminate on the basis of disability. If the student's native language is not English, every effort must be made to assess the child in his/her native language. Testing must focus on the educational needs resulting from the child's disability and must be comprehensive. Assessment must not rely on a single test, but must be conducted by several specialists in all areas of need, including one person knowledgeable about the child's suspected disability. In addition, the rights of students and their parents must be protected during the assessment. An example of protection of rights is that the child's parent must sign written informed consent before the child is evaluated.

Individual Education Plan

A third principle, individual education plan, refers to a document and a process by which the child's education is individualized and based on infor­ mation from the evaluation. It is essentiatly a blueprint of special education services needed by the student and annual goals for the student so that he/ she can be provided with an appropriate education. A team of people, including the child's parents and other professionals, develops the individual education plan.

Least Restrictive Environment

The fourth principle is called least restrictive environment. To the maxi­ mum extent appropriate, students with disabilities should be educated with children who are not disabled. This does not mean that students with disabili­ ties cannot attend special schools or special classes, but that they should be educated with their nondisabled peers, if at all possible and if appropriate.

Due Process

The fifth principle is the concept of due process. This means that children's educational interests are protected and parents are afforded rights to ensure that they are equal partners in the educational process. In addition, if parents disagree with the school's decision regarding the education of their child, they may request an impartial hearing to determine what decision is in the best interest of the child. The outcome of the hearing may be appealed into the court system and could end with a decision by the United States Supreme Court.

Parent Participation

The last principle is called parent participation. This principle ensures that parents will be full partners in the education of the child. Parents will be appropriately notified of meetings about the child and will be offered the opportunity to be full participants in decisions regarding the child's education.


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