Campaigners must join together and launch a new fight for the human rights of disabled young people to be educated in mainstream schools, leading figures in the inclusive education movement have heard.
A string of prominent members of the movement were speaking at an event to celebrate the struggle for inclusive education, marking the launch of the first UK Disability History Month.
Tara Flood, director of the Alliance for Inclusive Education, told the meeting that there was “a need for a call for action”.
She said the government’s forthcoming green paper on special educational needs (SEN) was an “opportunity for us to work together in a much more organised way to put again the case for why inclusive education is not [just] benefitting disabled children, it benefits the whole of society”.
And she said the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities offers the first chance to “get away from SEN and start to talk about education and disabled people from a human rights perspective”.
She added: “We have got to remind people that inclusive education is a fundamental human right for us all.
“We can’t have a ‘Big Society’ that suddenly decides that some of us are not good enough to be members of it.”
Micheline Mason, the veteran inclusive education campaigner, said each generation needed to be educated about the successes of the disability movement.
She said the history of the movement and “that group of people who chained themselves to buses and fought for the Disability Discrimination Act…who did so many things to make lives better…that struggle and that history isn’t known yet”.
She added: “It has been disabled people that have brought about these changes. This is something each generation needs to know.”
Richard Rieser, another veteran inclusive education activist and the coordinator of UK Disability History Month, said the history of disabled people was still hidden.
He said it was vital to ensure that all students “have some understanding of the history of struggle and the history of what has happened to disabled people in the last thousands of years since human beings have existed”.
The event also saw the unveiling of Rosa Branson’s Portrait of a Movement, a painting depicting the growth of the inclusive education movement, and some of its leading figures, including Mason and Rieser.
25 November 2010