Welcome to the Parent’s Handbook on Inclusive Education!
This Handbook has supported thousands of families in their journey to further their child’s education since 1993. For this 6th edition, we have made some additions and changes to make it better; we hope you like these changes and the Handbook continues to be helpful to many families in British Columbia.
We hope that more people will know about the Handbook and share it widely to support students, their families, and school teams to ensure all students in B.C. have equitable access to education.
This online format hopes to make it easier to access and navigate. You can explore the chapters in order or jump to the section that interests you at this moment. Use the link to each chapter or click a topic to go straight to that section. There are many resources throughout the Handbook; when you see this symbol , there’s a resource connected to that specific section or topic.
If you are unsure where to start or are going through challenges and need advocacy support, please reach out, and our Community Inclusion Advocacy Team will do their best to support you.
The links will become active as we release the chapters throughout the following weeks. When it’s all online, we will also make available a PDF version for download.
Table of Contents
Inclusion BC is a non-profit provincial organization that advocates for the rights and opportunities of people with intellectual disabilities and their families. We are a federation of members that include people with intellectual disabilities, their families and organizations that serve them. We are a rights-based organization and guide our work by the United Nations Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities which Canada ratified in 2010 and adopted its Optional Protocol in 2018.
Advocating for the right of all children to equitable access to education and the right to be fully and meaningfully included in education is a significant part of our work. Inclusion BC has journeyed alongside thousands of families and created the Parent’s Handbook on Inclusive Education in 1993 to support families to learn about their children’s rights, understand the educational system in British Columbia, and offer some guidance. We have seen progress, and we have seen parents/guardians grow more confident to advocate for their children’s rights. However, we also continue to see first-hand the continuous challenges they face to make them real.
In preparation for this edition, we consulted with people from across the province, including parents, teachers, resource teachers, district staff, academic leaders in inclusive education, and community partners involved in a student’s team like social workers, consultants, medical professionals, and therapists.
The 6th edition of this handbook wants to offer parents/guardians and other allies in the community knowledge, information, and resources to collectively continue doing our part to ensure that every child in B.C. has equitable access to their education.
We believe the work done to advance the right to inclusive education sets us on the path to building a more inclusive society.
How to use this Handbook
The resources and tools included here support parents/guardians, educators, and community partners (therapists, doctors, social workers, etc.) who are committed to creating and maintaining a quality, inclusive learning environment for all students. This applies to all students regardless of having a formal diagnosis or not.
This handbook is meant to:
- Help parents/guardians and caregivers understand and navigate the education system in order to prevent and/or solve problems.
- Describe approaches for creating a school-wide culture of collaboration and inclusion.
- Identify and apply relevant and appropriate tools for creating and sustaining student plans that focus on quality outcomes, meaningful opportunities, and growth.
- Explain how a culture of collaboration and respect can be led, supported and sustained by the entire school community.
Throughout the chapters, you will find links to resources that complement the information of each chapter. You will also find references to other chapters of this handbook when a theme is further explored in a different chapter. The final chapter contains all the resources mentioned in the handbook plus some additional ones that can be relevant to you at different times in your journey.
As our collective understanding of inclusion has evolved, so has the language we use to describe it. Words that were accepted decades ago are rejected today as ableist. Words have power to change how we think, treat others and ultimately, how we shape the world.
The term “special needs” is one of those words that does not reflect our current understanding of inclusion and diversity. All children have the right to access a quality, inclusive education and the supports necessary to make that a reality. Classrooms are full of children with diverse learning needs. Some require specific accommodations and additional support to access their right to an education. The need for an education is not “special.” It is a basic need that, according to human rights law, we have a duty to accommodate.
As the term is still used in official government policy documents, Inclusion BC uses it when referring to those documents or to specific literature.
Many students who require additional support in the classroom do not identify as having, or have not be diagnosed with, a disability.
We therefore try to be as accurate as possible, by using the term “disability and additional support needs.”
This term is inclusive of students who may not have a disability but do require additional support to benefit from and access a quality education. Gifted students and their parents/caregivers are also included in this term and can therefore benefit from this handbook.
Additional support needs may be required throughout a student’s school life or they may be temporary, coming and going as needed.
Importantly, this language reflects the rights of all students to access an education and receive the supports they need to do so.
- Don’t be that person video by the Self Advocate Leadership Network (SALN). Discussing the importance of language.