Inclusion Terminology

The following material is excerpted from Inclusion and Parent Advocacy: A Resource Guide (c) 1996 Disability Resources, inc. – All Rights Reserved.

The descriptions of books and audiovisual materials in this guide include some legal and programmatic terminology which may be unfamiliar to librarians. The following brief guide to the legal basis for inclusion and some of the commonly used terms may be helpful.


Part II – Commonly Used Terminology

 Procedural Terminology

An Individualized Education Program (IEP), which is required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, is a plan for an education program specific to an individual. This plan is developed collaboratively by the school and the parents. The regulations require meetings between school personnel, parents, and other individuals as well as written documents.

The Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), which is also required by IDEA, is a written plan for infants and toddlers from birth to three years old who receive early intervention services. The regulations requires that children receive early intervention services in “natural” environments (settings which are natural and normal for the child’s age peers who do not have disabilities) to the maximum extent possible. Like the IEP, the IFSP must be written with the family’s involvement and approval.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is an essential principle of IDEA which states that “to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are nondisabled.” The law requires that the least restrictive environment be determined on an individual basis and be based on the child’s IEP. The LRE is the legal basis for inclusive programs.

Procedural Safeguards/Due Process are provided in IDEA to ensure fair procedures in the identification, evaluation, and placement of children with disabilities. For example, the law requires that parents receive written notice if a change is proposed in the child’s placement. If conflicts arise between parents and schools, either party may request a due process hearing with the right to be represented by others, to have a written record, and to enter an appeal. In order to advocate for their own children, parents must be familiar with these procedural safeguards as well as with the components of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and other legislation.


Inclusion, Full Inclusion, Mainstreaming, Integration

The terms inclusion, full inclusion, mainstreaming, and integration are often used interchangeably to represent the provision of educational or other services to people with disabilities in regular schools, classes, and community settings. However, there are some distinctions.

Inclusion recognizes every individual’s right to be treated equally, and to be accorded the same services and opportunities as everyone else. In a school setting, full inclusion involves educating all children in regular classrooms all of the time, regardless of the degree or severity of a disability. Effective inclusion programs take place in conjunction with a planned system of training and supports. Such programs usually involve the collaboration of a multidisciplinary team which includes regular and special educators (or other personnel) as well as family members and peers.

Mainstreaming is an older term which may imply a more gradual, partial, or part-time process (e.g., a student who is mainstreamed may attend separate classes within a regular school, or may participate in regular gym and lunch programs only). In mainstreamed programs, students are often expected to fit in the regular class in which they want to participate, whereas in an inclusive program the classes are designed to fit all students.

Integration is often used synonymously with mainstreaming to encompass efforts to move students from segregated classes into the mainstream. However, it is sometimes used to represent the ultimate objective of inclusion.


Techniques and Strategies

Planning for inclusion may involve a wide variety of tools and techniques. The following are some techniques frequently mentioned in the literature.

Circle of Friends (also called Circle of Support) is a technique used to enlist the involvement and commitment of peers in developing and supporting effective inclusion.

COACH is an assessment and planning tool designed to help educators identify family-centered priorities for their students, define the educational program components, and address these components in an inclusive setting.

MAPS (Making Action Plans) is a creative tool which inclusion facilitators can use to help individuals, organizations, and families move into the future.

PATH (Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope) is a creative tool which inclusion facilitators can use to develop long and short range planning by encouraging people to think “backwards.”



Inclusion & Parent Advocacy; A Resource Guide is available on loan from many schools and libraries. It can also be purchased for small fee. Click here for more information.

Be sure to visit … The DRM WebWatcher Inclusion Web Sites

(c) 1997-2013 Disability Resources, inc.