Inclusive Education: Factors Of Adaptation Of Disabled People To The Education Process


According to the international documents in the sphere of education and national policy of the Russian Federation, disabled people has the same rights and the opportunity to get full-fledged higher education and specialization, that helps to become an equal in rights member of society. Nowadays, inclusive education of disabled people on every level of education is the main strategy of realization of this principle. Inclusive higher education means that all students, regardless of their physical, mental and other capacities educate together in universities. Inclusive education can either contribute or prevent the ability of a person of participation in the life of society. This factor mostly concerns disabled people, that is why, their special educational needs are usually taken into account and they get special support. The beginning of every activity, including higher school education, is a difficult and important stage for a student so the adjustment cycle is very important. The article contains the main concepts concerning disability, integration of disabled people to the society, educational environment and the difference in understanding of these theories. Also the characteristics of regulatory framework of inclusive higher education is given, the main legal acts in different levels of management in the sphere of education of disabled people were analyzed, the main legislative gaps in this sphere were characterized. The specificity of psychophysical adaptation of disabled students.

Keywords: Inclusive educationsocial protectionintegration of disabled children in educational sphereinnovations in educationadaptation


Modern system of democratic society should meet the individual educational needs of the person. Creating the opportunity to satisfy individual educational needs in educational institution becomes the basis of the most educational systems in the world. Also there are special groups of children, whose educational needs are not just individual, but also have special features.

Such special educational needs occur when in the process of education the difficulties appear in incompatibility of children opportunity generally accepted expectations. These special educational needs of the child make the institute provide special materials, programs or service. Inclusion of people with special educational needs (disabled people, health challenged people, people with special development) to the educational process in institutions is rather a new approach in the Russian education. Such approach is connected with the process, that is called inclusion in the education.

For several decades, the Russian Federation has taken an active part in the international educational community. Nowadays the internal educational policy of our country is rapidly changing according to the international educational trends. One of such trends is an efficient democratic policy in the sphere of education of disabled people, which is based on creation of essential conditions to satisfy their educational needs.

Inclusive (French – includes, latin include – include) – the term, that is used to describe the process of education of children with special needs in educational institutions. The following key principles reflect inclusion in the education:

  • Value of a person doesn’t depend on his abilities and achievements;

  • Every person can feel and think;

  • Every person has the right to socialize and to be heard;

  • Real education can be realized only in the environment of true relationship.

  • All people need support and friendship of their peers.

  • Variety makes all the spheres of life stronger.

Problem Statement

In spite of the fact, that lately the Russian Federation has paid much attention to the problem of integration of disabled people to the society, the important problem of specification of the main concepts connected with disability and inclusion still exists. Different understanding of such concepts as “disabled person”, “health challenged person”, “person with special development” and others, often leads to uncoordinated standard acts, misunderstanding and fallacious conclusions.

Numerous researches (Trigorlyi, 2005) say about the difficulties in adaptation to a complex of factors, specific to higher school: there is a strong tension of compensatory adaptation of organism, constant mental and psycho-emotional stress. They often lead to procrastination and disruption of the adaptation period and a complex of diseases can appear. Every student can face it, but of course psycho-emotional stress can be more evident with disabled people depending on nosology.

Students’ adaptation to the conditions of education is a very pressing problem of modern education, that is psychophysiologically, individually psychologically and sociopsychosocially analyzed. Numerous factors have an influence on the process of psychophysiological process, among them there are personal characteristics, that is one of the most important factors (Tshetinina, 2015).

Nowadays the problem of inclusive higher education isn’t worked out properly. According to the analyzed literature, one can make a conclusion, that the standards of adaptation of limited possibilities children in the integrated education process aren’t really understood and formulated, there is a lack of efficient technology support, that could make the adaptation process more effective.

One of the problems, revealed in a number of studies is lack of favorable social conditions to the integration of disabled people to the society, including barrier-free environment (Calikovaa, Egorovb, & Razumovskayaa, 2014).

It is important to take into account the effect of fundamental change in making equal opportunities and participation for personal development of disabled people (Forber-Pratt & Zape, 2017; Mulligan, Calder, Gcert, & Mulligan, 2018).

According to the given contradictions, the problem of study is formulated, consisting in theoretical basis and working out methodological and practical recommendations for adaptation of disabled people in higher school.

For the solution of this problem in this research, the following tasks were put:

  • Systematization of categorical machinery of inclusion;

  • Analysis of normative legal and methodological supply of inclusive higher education management;

  • Revealing adaptation factors of disabled people in the education process in higher school.

Research Questions

Taking into account the gap in the literature, there are the following questions of this study:

  • The gaps in the legislation of the Russian Federation in the sphere of inclusive higher education

  • The groups of factors that influence on the adaptation of disabled people.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is theoretical justification and working out methodological and practical recommendations for adaptation of disabled people in higher school.

Research Methods

The problem of integration of disabled people to the society appeared in our country more than 20 years ago. However still there is a problem of concretization of the major concepts, connected with disability, integration and inclusion. Different understanding of such concepts as “disabled person”, “health challenged person”, “person with special development”, lack of understanding of difference between such concepts as “integration” and “inclusion” often leads to uncoordinated standard acts, misunderstanding and fallacious conclusions.

In the international practice there are two approaches to disability: social and medical.

Traditional (medical) approach to the concept of disability is focused on the person’s disease. It has nothing in common with the integration of disabled people and with inclusion.

From the social approach point of view, disability is a problem of imperfection of environment. Social approach also means that the society should change its attitude to disabled people, which continues to make barriers and discriminate them dominated by stereotypes.

Federal law “About social defense of disabled people in the RF brought the legal notion “disabled person”. According to it a disabled person is a person, who has health problems with strong dysfunction of organism, as a result of diseases, consequences of injury or defects, which lead to limitation of vital activity and the need in social defense. This notion is mostly medical. According to this notion, there are three aspects to recognize a man as a disabled person: 1. strong dysfunction of organism, 2. limitation of vital activity, which is strongly connected with disease and methods of treatment, 3. need of social defense.

The opportunity to use one of the aspects in detection of disability cannot lead to removal or more full compensation of limitation of vital activity, that is why, there should be a wider notion of “disability” and should involve both medical and social aspects.

So disability is a social lack as a result of health problems with strong dysfunction of organism, that leads to limitation of vital activity as a result of diseases, consequences physical, psychological, sensory, cultural, legislative and other barriers, which block the creation of equal social opportunities with other citizens (Laas, 2016).

Limitation of vital activity is understood as full or partial disability of opportunity to self-service, move by him/herself, orientate, communicate, control his/her behavior, study and work.

Nowadays the term “disabled person” is often replaced by a term “health challenged person”. This term is often used in media and published works, also in legislative acts and in official documents of the United Nations Organization. There is an opinion, that is more tactful to use it, but it’s a very controversial question. In this notion it is flaring, that the person has limitations. So, in our opinion, it is quite the contrary. But this term has a wider meaning, then the term “disabled person”. As we said before, disability means limitation of vital activity but some health challenged people don’t have disability group. According to the classification there are 4 levels of dysfunctions of organism, they are evaluated in per cents. Therefore, people, which has the 1st level of strong dysfunction of organism, they are between 10 and 30 percent, don’t have disability group. Recent researches show the importance of differentiation of seriousness of disability levels. Nevertheless the consensus hasn’t been obtained yet (Pongiglione, Ploubidis, & Stavola, 2017).

The level of strong dysfunctions of organism of a person, that appeared as a result of diseases, injuries, or defects, is established according to the quantitative evaluation system, that is used by the medico-social assessment of federal government agency of medico-social assessment.

In this case we can see another controversial aspect. The level of strong dysfunctions of organism of a person isn’t correlated with disability groups, that often leads to contradictions of legislative acts. So it isn’t correct to substitute these terms.

The term “health challenged person” should be used to prioritise social limitations of opportunities.

The term “person with special development” is used rather seldom, because of its tactfulness and intolerance towards disabled people, moreover, it can be used not only to disabled people.

So the term “disabled person” is more correct.

The use of the terms “disabled child”, “child with disturbance of development” and “disabled person since childhood” is one more controversial issue, connected with disability. We’d rather say that the term “disabled child”, should be used to underline the legal position, that shows the specific of child’s vital activity; “child with disturbance of development” is used for all categories of children with abnormal development, not only those, who got the status of a disabled person.

“A disabled person since childhood” is a reason of disability, given at the same time as the disability group. People under 18 can get this status in the case when they became disabled before this age.

According to the law, the terms “disabled person” and “disabled child” are equal and people who have this status have rights for the whole complex of rehabilitation service.

Identification of terms “integration” and “inclusion” is one more important issue that we should pay attention to.

The term “integration” is often used to designate the place where people study in educational institutions (usually depending on the seriousness of illness). This means that mostly the individual approach or distant education is used. So integration is a process and the result of accordance of a right and real opportunities to participate in all spheres of social life (including education) equally or together with other members of society to a student with special educational needs and limited ability to work, that will compensate the departure in development and limited abilities.

The term “inclusion” characterizes wider processes. The student has the opportunity to attend educational institutions, he has essential adapted educational environment and special service. Inclusion means that everybody, can benefit from co-education apart of the type, level of seriousness and type of disease. They study in one class and get extra service if needed.

The change of attitude to health challenged people in integration is the main difference between inclusive and integrating approach.

Therefore, we realize the right of a disabled person to participate in the life of society. Using integration and inclusion helps to describe the process of education in educational institutions of disabled people, who have special needs.

Inclusive education is one of the main areas of reform and transformation of a special educational system, the aim of which is to realize the right for non discrimination education. In the basis of transformation of a special educational system and development of inclusive approaches the important international legal acts, declarations and conventions, connected the human rights and inadmissibility to discriminate in any reason were concluded by United Nations and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The main ideas and principles of inclusive education, as an international practice of realization the right for education of people with specific needs, firstly were formulated in Salamanca statement. The document calls on governments of all countries in the world to improve their systems of education and pass the law or political declaration the principle of inclusive education; to make more efforts to strategy development, connected with revealing special educational needs in advance, to systematically conduct training and refresher courses for specialists, to provide education for people with special needs in inclusive educational institutions.

The legislation framework of inclusive education in the Russian Federation consists of documents of several levels: federal; governmental, departmental (Board of Education of Russian Federation); regional (governmental and departmental).

The primary document defining the way in which the Russian Federation protects disabled people is the Federal Act of November 24, 1995 N 181-FA "On Social Protection of Disabled People in the Russian Federation". Its aim is to provide disabled people with equal civil, economic and political and other rights and liberties enshrined in the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

It is said in the Education Act in addition to earlier guarantees that the system of inclusive education should be implemented in buildings. The buildings need upgrading with the special equipment to help people with all forms of disability to be educated. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to realize these upgrading measures both in terms of ensuring the studying process and accessibility in buildings.

Methodological recommendations on the organization of educational process for disabled and limited capacities students in a higher educational institution including the equipment question is of considerable interest for these people from the organizational point of view. They include recommendations on the higher educational institution in general, staffing, working with applicants with disabilities and limited capacities, the equipment of buildings and its safety for these people, the technical and material support of the education process, the adaptation of the educational programs and providing the education process for students with disabilities and limited capacities, the organization of the distance educational process and the holding the education progress and health care in general.

The inclusive approach in education is not prohibited but definitely possible in present-day Russia. Therefore, it is difficult to put them into practice. The main reasons are

  • the lack of financial support from the State

  • a large number of acts regulating the common rights of disabled people to be inclusively educated which are often uncoordinated

  • difficulties in organization of the educational and adaptation process with disabled people.

Disabled students and their healthy peers have different adaptive capabilities while getting university education. Adaptive success or failure of a disabled student and a student with limited capacity depends on several factors. They can be divided into internal and external. Among the internal factors are the type of disability, the student`s psychophysical characteristics, specificities of learning area, student`s personality traits, student`s personal attitude to disability and preferred methods of coping behaviour. External or environmental factors are certain psychosocial conditions of education process, the educational environment that is appropriate for student`s individual characteristics and existence or absence of barrier-free environment in the university, special technical equipment, individual approach to student.

Here some internal characteristics of adaptation of the disabled students and students with limited vital activity to a professional education at the universities:

  • The type of disability (muscle-skeleton, hearing, vision disorder, etc.); psychophysiological quality and person’s compensatory mechanism. For example, a blind student is not able to learn the trade without properly organized educational system, due to the poor and distorted understanding of the world.

  • A student’s health. For example, students with cerebral palsy diagnosis have vascular and vascular autonomic dysfunctions since childhood, reduced appetite, bowel transgression, continuous thirst. Their temperature is rising without any sight somatic diseases. Their extremities are pale, the have interrupted sleep, etc. All this leads to the fact that a person becomes physically exhausted more than his healthy peers and is behind them in physical growth and development. All this directly effects the studying of academic disciplines.

  • Nervous and emotional resilience, resilience to fatigue, tolerance to monotony, the impact of other adverse factors of educational load, volitional regulation feature of behavior, prevailing emotions, etc. are the psychophysiological features of a student with disabilities and health limitations, that have impact on the adaptation to the conditions of higher education. So fatigue develops as a result of academic loads with insufficient recovery processes of the body. This shows as the performance decrement, the regulatory system disorder of the body because of overstraining of a particular organ or the whole body. Mental strain requires a long period of recovery. Healthy students, who are in good physical condition and physical activity, can cope with a serious amount of academic load easier, than students with disabilities and health limitations (Trighonova, 2016).

  • Specificity of the cognitive sphere of a disabled student and a health challenged student. It is characterized by speed and quickness of memory; turning the attention, its stability; speech development; certain characteristics of thinking, etc. For example, mental development of a hearing-impaired student takes place in special conditions of external contacts restriction with the surrounding world. As the result his mental activity become easier, response to stimuliis is less diverse. Hearing disorder (primary defect) leads to speech deficiency (secondary defect) and to deceleration or specific development of other functions (visual perception, thinking, attention, memory), that inhibits mental growth and influences the results of education. People with cerebral spastic infantile paralysis have sensory apparatus disorder. All movement disorders include motor activity dysfunction and lead to concomitant diseases.

  • Personal characteristics, such as traits of character (persistence, purposefulness, responsibility, independence in studying, problem solving etc); specifics of studying motivation; self-consciousness; level of aspiration; self-appraisal characteristics; student’s locus of control; generated/ unembodied self-concept and others.

  • Student’s attitude to disability, his previous experience, for instance his previous education experience in a special educational institute, at home or at a usual secondary school. One of the national studies shows that the students with latent disability tend to hide their status (75%) and it is unfavourable, has a considerable and long-lasting extent and leads to a stress.

  • Preferred coping strategies as a set of mental processes and behavioral reactions aimed at overcoming the stress caused by learning. Native researchers (Kiseleva & Kusmin, 2017) studied features of coping strategies (models of coping behaviors) of students (older adolescents and young people) with disabilities such as a violation of the musculoskeletal system (38 % of subjects), various types of sensory dysfunctions (24% of subjects), disorders associated with circulatory systems, metabolic disorders, internal secretion, digestion and respiration (22% of subjects) and 16% of subjects did not say their disability. Disabled people since childhood (82%) and those who received disability at the adulthood (18%) take apart at the same time. It turned out that people with disabilities are less able to take responsibility for problems, less prone to purposeful analysis of the situation and possible ways out of it and to plan their own actions based on their experience unlike their healthy coeval. Often people who have acquired disability at the later age deny the problem instead of solving it and try to distance themselves from the problem. In addition, they tend to use maladaptive coping patterns and have shown low levels of vitality.

External factors of the adaptation process depend on environment where students take education and carried out training activities and helping to limiting or empowering the adaptation, reducing or increasing the level of anxiety of the organism. Consider these factors:

  • The necessity of visual impairment for a students, hearing impairment, and disorders of the musculoskeletal system the presence or absence barrier-free environment of the university where they will study. For example, the whole territory of an educational organization must have adequate conditions for the smooth, safe, and convenient movement of students with limited mobility; it must provide access to the buildings on it; to have related information and navigation supports and so on;

  • The necessity of special technical equipment for the organization and implementation of the education process. Particularly, students with hearing impairments need accessible forms of equipments such as sound equipment, a variety of multimedia and other technical means of receiving and transmitting educational information. Visually impaired students need Braille computer equipment, electronic loops, video enhancers, non-visual access to information programs, speech synthesizers. Students with disorders of the musculoskeletal system require to use computer technology adapted for this kind of people with special software and with an alternative input devices;

  • Social and psychological conditions of studying. They include: the presence/absence of positive guidelines for interaction with disability students; communicative competence or incompetence; possible overprotection on the part of others; the status of a student with a disability in a study group; the behavior of students with disabilities’ parents etc. So, in particular, parents accompanying their children with disabilities in adolescence have a fundamental influence for the development, promotion of autonomy, empowerment especially at the time of study (Friso & Caldin, 2013). The role of parents lasts when their disabled children are taking professional education.

The same subgroup of factors includes the perception of disabled students by all participants in the educational process. So, in the environment of healthy peers in relation to people with disabilities "medical-oriented model of life” is spread, the association of disabled people mainly as patients and requiring care (Voevodina, 2011). In the same study, it was demonstrated that young people with disabilities in specialized universities (educational institutions focused on training students with disabilities) cause in healthy peers, first of all, a desire to help (38%) and pity (27%). In non-specialized universities (universities that do not have the experience of teaching students with disabilities that do not have the necessary material and technical base), disability is curious (13%) and indifferent (21%).

  • Pedagogical conditions: teaching style used by teachers; teacher’s readiness/non-readiness for inclusive education; the presence/absence of educational cooperation in the educational process, as a joint developmental activity aimed at stimulating of cognitive interests in professional activities among disabled students and health challenged people; presents/absents special workbooks and user's guides etc.

  • Presence/absence of an individual approach to a student with a disability and health limitations. This subgroup of factors can be ranked as an identification of the needs and interests of vocational education; helping students discover their educational potential; the presence/absence of professional counseling conducted in the educational process and carried out with the aim of accompanying the process of self-knowledge, disclosure of professional abilities and interests of students, etc. In particular, it is highly recommended to introduce the post of a tutor, an educational psychologist, a social teacher (a social worker) to the staff of educational organizations, a specialist in the particular hardware and software for the education of people with disabilities and other necessary specialists in order to implement and to support the educational process of people and students with disabilities. At the same time, for additional individualized correction of cognitive and communication skills, professional and social adaptation at the stage of higher education, it is recommended to introduce the specialized adaptation disciplines (modules) into educational programs.

  • The degree of involvement into the public life of the university, as a necessary condition for the manifestation and development of general and special abilities of disabled students.

  • As a rule, disabled students and limited life activity, choosing a profession and educational institution, are guided not by personal interests and personal preferences, but by some objective possibilities caused by a state of their health. This may lead to the fact that a graduate, on the basis of these principles, will face difficulties in professional self-realization, which will endanger his professional adaptation and socialization as a whole (Ardineeva, Filippova, & Mangushev, 2009). In addition, barriers that appear while entering into the labor market vary according to the type of disability people have. Some groups face extreme difficulties in coping (for example, people with mental disorders), while others have less difficulty (for example, hearing impairments) (Bomana, Anders Kjellbergb, Danermarkc, & Bomana, 2015). Thus, vocational education programs and related rehabilitation programs must be adapted to the various disability factors.

Completed adaptation (physiological, psychophysiological, psychological, socio-psychological) is intended to contribute to the successful solution of the problems of personality development at the vocational training stage, which should be reflected in the successful development of general cultural and professional competencies, socially important attitudes and professional roles for students with health limitations in order to effectively functioning as an employee.


The following may be considered a conclusion. The inclusive education must be legally recognized as a separate institution with all the necessary components in order to solve the above problems. These components include the normative legal base documents preparation, finding of appropriate funding principles and so on. Besides, it is important to develop a mechanism of creating special conditions for the adaptation to the educational environment for children with special educational needs.


The relationship between professional success and educational training has been shown by numerous studies. For instance, it is shown in the A. C. Manolache and M.V. Bedrule-Grigoru’s research that education and motivation are the main reasons of getting a job for people with special needs. The most basic requirement is the amount of knowledge and skills, such as “work according to the schedule”, “teamwork”, “exposure to the organizational values”, “the practical implementation of their knowledge”, “contribution to the achievement of common goals”. These skills are acquired in the process of professional training (Manolache & Bedrule-GrigoruĠăa, 2014).

Another study dedicated to the problem of the people with special needs in Romanian labour market also indicates that education is the main factor affecting the employment of people with special needs in this country (Angelaa, 2015).

However, there is no significant deference between employers, who create jobs for workers with or without disabilities. About 61% of engaged people with special needs work for private companies in the country, 31% of them work for state-owned companies (Angelaa, 2015). Thus, people with special needs are employed in enterprises of any ownership form.

Some studies have shown that education improves opportunities of getting a job (Bomana et al., 2015). However, according to them, people with special needs averagely have a lower level of education than others. At the same time, students with special needs face a greater obstacle than students without disabilities.

Moreover, on analyzing the career of people with impaired mobility, it was found that higher education according to the respondents’ opinion is a key factor of a smooth transition to the labor market.


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Laas, N., Romanova, I., Gurova, E., & Stoykovich, L. (2019). Inclusive Education: Factors Of Adaptation Of Disabled People To The Education Process. In V. Mantulenko (Ed.), Global Challenges and Prospects of the Modern Economic Development, vol 57. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 643-653). Future Academy.