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Leadership Panel

taught by: Judy Heumann
co-presented by: Dr. Lisa Sterba

Session Summary

The Leadership Panel gathers a diverse set of leaders with the ability to influence services for students with disabilities in K-12 and/or higher education. Panel members will have a rich discussion about how leaders affect change and how the trend for diversity and inclusion continues to overlook the needs of students with disabilities. How do we create systems that encourage leaders and their teams to come together and ensure that the digital classroom does not become yet another obstacle for the inclusion fo students with disabilities? How do leaders inspire us to change things for the better?


The history of inclusive education in the US is somewhat bleak. Until fairly recently the education of students with disabilities in the United States was characterized by exclusion and, until the passage of the Education for All Children Act in the 1970s, a substantial number of students with disabilities were entirely denied free public education. Even after the passage of laws intending to address the issue, disabled students continued to be poorly served by public schools. The requirement that all children be educated in the “least restrictive environment” gradually allowed many students with disabilities to be educated alongside their more typically abled peers. When COVID hit in early 2020, a majority of students with disabilities spending more than 80% of their school days in regular classroom settings.

But the "regular classroom" was quickly evolving as well. Already reliant on digital curricula, that reliance accelerated as the impact of COVID forced kids to learn from home. As our educational systems have been radically disrupted, have they continued to move in a positive direction in terms of inclusion for disabled students? This panel of leaders will share their experiences as students themselves, teachers, adminstrators, and leaders who have worked for change in how students with disabilities participate in 21st centrury classrooms. Join them for a discussion of how to face current challenges as they continue the work to build inclusive systems and the culture changes needed to make systemic change possible.