I was having a discussion with a friend of mine a few days ago about basic human rights when she said that ‘for equality to work, people with Special Needs and Disabilities should be treated in exactly the same way as everyone else’. She added that, ‘this means, no special treatments, such as Teaching Assistants in schools, free and accessible parking, and/ or other perks that disabled people have’.
As offensive as this sounds, I believe that she has a point. We should not be campaigning for equality in the purest sense of the word> rather, we should be campaigning for equal opportunities, inclusion and acceptance of diversity. I have previously explained my definition of equality, and why I think it is not the same as fairness (READ HERE). I personally do not want a society where everyone is treated equally. Let me explain:
Having worn glasses for over half of my life, I do not want society to wear the exact same prescription glasses as I do just to be treated equally. Conversely, I do not want to remove my glasses when reading just because I want to be treated the same as a person with 20/20 vision. In addition, I do not want people with Autism, Dyslexia or other Specidal Educational Needs to be subjected to the exact same treatment as others without Special Needs. My point is, we are all different and we should all be treated differently. We all need help in some areas of our lives, while in some areas, we could be exeptionally good that we could teach others. Nobody should be punished just because they are though of as someone having less or more than what you have.
Readers should take note though, that I am advocating for Equal Opportunities. ‘How can that be?’, you may ask. Equal Opportunities to me, means that anyone- and I mean anyone- should be allowed to try anything and everything. If someone with SEN wishes to be educated in a mainstream school (not a special school), then so be it providing that such placement will not hinder their-and others’- development and learning. However, nobody should be ‘forced’ to study in a mainstream school just because it is seen as good practise. There are pros and cons to studying in a mainstream school, just as there are pros and cons to studying in a special school. People should be free to choose. If a same-sex couple want to get married and/ or adopt children, let them, providing that they love each other and are responsible enough for each other’s well-being.
We should embrace each other’s differences. We should offer to help those who need help, in circumstances that would allow us to. However, with all these being said, I should emphasise that respect should be given to everyone regardless of their ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, religion and psychological state.