Very seldom does life hand us challenges one at a time. We all need to deal with multiple obstacles, as many of our special education students and their families have learned. According to the U.S. Office of Special Education, an estimated 948,000 children may both be linguistically different and have disabilities (based on 1985 data). It is probably safe to assume that the same percent of language minority students as other students need special education; this would be 12-15%. To have learning disabilities and also be an English language learner raises fear and prejudice in some people in school and society. This fear and prejudice is rooted in what may be called the “Fear of the Other.”

Our nation's motto, on the back of all our currency, is the Latin phrase E Pluribus Unum, out of many, one. The idea of multiculturalism is to preserve the richness and flavor of the many, of diversity, even as we strive to be one nation, one people. For those in the “majority,” this means learning to overcome fears and prejudice. Inclusion, embracing diversity, is part of the means to accomplish this.

Teachers benefit from knowing where to find resources to teach for and to diversity, and to understand and adapt to those students seeking to master English and compensate for disabilities at the same time as they study academic subjects.

  1. Bilingual Special Education -- Gives an excellent overview and policy outline for bilingual special education
  2. Empowering Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students with Learning Problems -- Takes a pro-bilingual stance in stressing the self-concept outcome of retaining students’ first language
  3. Five Strategies to Reduce Overrepresentation of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students in Special Education -- Considers why more minority children are served in special education than we would expect based on their percentage in the general school population, and what can be done to increase equity
  4. Functional Language Instruction for Linguistically Different Students with Moderate to Severe Disabilities -- Suggests using “ecological inventories” to determine vocabulary and concepts matched to the students’ world
  5. ESL Instruction and Adults With Learning Disabilities -- Offers practical methods for both instruction and teacher training based a review of research and experience with the ESL-Learning Disabilities population
  6. Using Interpreters and Translators to Meet the Needs of Handicapped Language Minority Students and Their Families -- Makes the case for use of bilingual translators for communication with parents and families. See also Free
  7. Confronting Dialect Minority Issues in Special Education: Reactive and Proactive Perspectives -- Looks at the difference it makes when “deficit” is reconsidered as “difference.”
  8. A Guide to Learning Disabilities for the ESL Classroom Practitioner -- Discusses classroom behaviors generally manifested by people who have learning disabilities and common sense techniques that can be incorporated into classroom routines to vastly improve the classroom environment for people having learning disabilities
  9. Referring Language Minority Students to Special Education -- Discusses process to ensure English language learners with special needs receive effective services
  10. Reconstructing the Bilingual Special Education Interface -- presents the need to change the focus of bilingual special education if the equity needs of students are to be met


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