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Journey through the Trials and Triumphs of Disability

Helen L. Laas
African Journal of Disability | Vol 1, No 1 | a16 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v1i1.16 | © 2012 Helen L. Laas | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 February 2012 | Published: 28 September 2012

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Helen L. Laas, South African Association for Learning and Educational Differences, KwaZulu-Natal branch Inclusive Education, Embury Institute for Teacher Education, Durban, South Africa


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Abstract

One Woman’s journey through the Trials and Triumphs of Disability, Disabled Peoples International 8th World Assembly 2011 Durban, South Africa, October 10–13, 2011. When embarking on my career as a teacher at a special school in South Africa, I never thought that a motor vehicle accident would place me in the position where my learners with disabilities suddenly saw me as an ally. Little did I realise the chasm that exists between able-bodied people and people with disabilities, or the remarkable role I would find myself in whilst actively addressing disability and Inclusive Education issues. My experiences with disability in South Africa drew encouraging attention from delegates at the Disabled People’s International 8th World Assembly when I shared my story. The resounding positive response affirmed that my experiences are not unique to nationality, gender, race or age, and are typical of the time and country in which I live, where people with disabilities are considered to have little potential, and woman with disabilities are further marginalised. In the infancy of our democracy, we are still in the early days of attending to equity amongst all South Africans. This story comprises both a narrative and a graphic presentation which run parallel, although not always telling an identical story; they complement one another and should be experienced simultaneously. Ultimately, it relates the success that can be achieved by pro-active people with disabilities as members of the South African society within their own spheres of knowledge and skill to change attitudes and practices of people without disabilities in education and local communities.

Keywords

Inclusive education; disability; teacher; tertiary education

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