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Keywords:

  • evidence-based;
  • inclusive postsecondary;
  • intellectual disabilities;
  • moral imperative

Abstract

Although today many more examples of postsecondary educational opportunities being made available to students are expanding for adults with intellectual disabilities (ID), the majority of these opportunities are either segregated or partially segregated with few accommodating students with significant disabilities or challenging behaviors. In this article, the authors take the position that the desire for inclusive education and the beliefs and principles of inclusive practices must be the foundation for inclusive postsecondary education (IPSE). The rationale for such an approach is based on positive outcomes derived for young adults where opportunities for inclusion in the context of universities, colleges, and technical schools offer a powerful context for embedding students in the normative pathways that can lead to positive lifelong outcomes. As inclusive schooling remains a controversial issue even after 40 years of supportive published research and demonstrated practice, it is not surprising that full IPSE opportunities are limited. The authors hold to the principles of inclusion as the foundation for postsecondary education given the known failure of segregated education to result in positive social and economic outcomes. The authors explore the means of achieving better futures for students with ID through IPSE. This article highlights the findings of 25 years experience across the province of Alberta in implementing 18 IPSE initiatives for young adults with the full range of ID, including those with severe and multiple disabilities, and outlines the challenging behaviors thus strengthening evidence for adopting inclusive practices. The supports required for an authentic student experience in all aspects of postsecondary academic and social life are described with employment, academic, economic and social outcomes highlighted. IPSE has been shown to be an important and effective means of launching students with ID into adulthood, but by itself, IPSE is not sufficiently powerful to sustain an inclusive pathway over time. The authors note that student experiences in campus life and relationships reveal we are not close to finding the limits to where and how inclusion can be achieved; the challenge is to create opportunities.