The Path to Academic Access for Students With Significant Cognitive Disabilities

Timberlake, Maria T.
February 2016
Journal of Special Education;Feb2016, Vol. 49 Issue 4, p199
Academic Journal
Federal special education law (Individuals With Disabilities Education Act) guarantees, but does not define, access to the general education curriculum for all students with disabilities. In-depth qualitative telephone interviews were conducted with special educators (n = 33) about their academic decision making for students with significant cognitive disabilities. Findings revealed a distinct path to decision making about academic access, including a context of aloneness, the influence of professionalism, and perceived barriers. As traditional ways of educating students with significant cognitive disabilities are challenged by new expectations, this research provides a glimpse of how teachers struggle to interpret policy and enact access. Understanding access as a conceptual path enables policy, research, and professional development aimed at increasing access to focus on specific points in the decision-making process.


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