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As our countries and educational systems face many formidable challenges which may negatively affect the quality and depth of the how teach and learn and where ‘reforms’ have been bandied about for decades – some implemented, some not – how can we do it better when it comes to ensuring each child or young person – regardless of orientation, disability, race, gender and economic status – can learn.

The UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes inclusive education as a fundamental right to be universally guaranteed. In many countries around the world, children and young adults with disability are also granted the right to be part of the national mainstream education system, from elementary and middle school through high school. Yet in an age of budget cuts, staffing shortages and oversized classes, students with special needs don’t always receive the necessary support to facilitate their learning.

The transition to adulthood is challenging for any young person, but particularly so for youth with disabilities. Recent years have seen initiatives around the world to better prepare students with disabilities for the new demands of adulthood. Common to these initiatives is a recognition that multiple factors influence transition, including type and severity of impairment, environmental barriers and supports, personal characteristics, and available socioeconomic resources.