Meanings attached to disability, attitudes towards disabled people, and attitudes towards integration
Part of the work has restricted access. Therefore the material can be read only at the archival workstation at Jyväskylä University Library reserved for the use of archival materials.
The aim of this study was to examine the meanings attached to disability, attitudes towards disabled people and towards integration in regular schools, with particular reference to Ethiopia. Studies focusing on the social, educational and psychological conditions of people in developing countries are rare, and the direct transfer of practices from one society to another has often been criticized. For this purpose, and to give a historical perspective of the practices of integration, an intensive review of the research literature on meanings, the nature of attitudes, attitude theories, and integration carried out during the last 25 years in the developed countries was done. The sample consisted of 326 people. They were divided into 3 major groups. The teacher group included 179 regular class and special teachers. The student group consisted of 128 regular students both from integrated classrooms and nonintegrated classes. The students were all from the secondary level (grade 11). The parent group included 19 parents of disabled children. A questionnaire in five parts translated into Amharic was distributed to all subjects. The main findings of the study were that the meanings attached to the various disability categories were in general positive, except for the mentally retarded. However, the meanings attached to regular students were more favourable than those attached to the disability categories. Visual impairment had the most positive meaning, followed by hearing impairment, physical disability and mental retardation. Attitudes towards disabled people in general were slightly negative. General attitudes towards integration were also slightly negative. However, attitudes towards the integration of specific disability categories showed variation. Attitudes towards the integration of the visually impaired, hearing impaired, mentally retarded and other disability groups that need additional facilities and teaching skills were found to be negative. Attitudes towards the integration of the physically disabled, diabetics, and epileptic students who do not have visible academic problems were positive. The relationship between background factors and meanings attached to disability categories, attitudes towards disabled people, and attitudes towards integration was not strong. In accordance with earlier assumptions the meanings attached to disability groups were positive due, probably, to religious influences and shared values within the community. The negative attitudes towards the integration of some disability groups did not contradict the positive meanings attached to disability. The factor analyses indicated that attitudes towards integration are influenced by the actual situations of the schools in a country. A low level of teacher skills, lack of resources in the schools, and the competitive nature of the schooling seemed to have influenced the evaluations. ...
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