In 1992 the United Nations declared December 3rd as International Day of Disabled Persons -- an annual day of observation "to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life." From the Convention on the Rights for Persons with Disabilities, which began in 2006, to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we are encouraged to "leave no one behind" as we look at inclusive strategies and how they pertain to the overall health of political, social, economic, cultural and educational life.
In fact, special education began at Teachers College with Elizabeth Farrell, lecturer in psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University, from 1915 until her death in 1935. As Director of Ungraded Classes in the New York City school system, Farrell was the first to teach a class of special education (see the related NYT article, Schools Ask Help with Defectives, January 27, 1913). She spearheaded the founding of the international Council for Exceptional Children and went on to attain an international reputation for her achievements in the field of special education, contributing data and techniques to the formulation of new and ever-improved methods of teaching public school children identified as having special learning needs.
Significant Teachers College contributors include: Leonard Blackman (mental retardation), Hsu-Min Chiang (autism), Frances Connor (physical disabilities), Jeanette Fleischner (learning disabilities), Ignacy Goldberg (mental retardation), Douglas Greer (behavior analysis), Linda Hickson (mental retardation, autism), Leta Hollingworth (gifted), Robert Kretschmer (deaf and hard of hearing), Ann Mulholland (deaf), Harry Passow (gifted), Christine Pawleski (child abuse, advocacy), Jo Shepherd (learning disabilities), and Abraham Tannenbaum (gifted, disadvantaged).
In recognition of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.
- 16 Teachers Work On Cerebral Palsy: Study At Teachers College Ends Tomorrow -- Afflicted Children Used In Program. (1953, Aug 13). New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Peterson, I. (1973, Nov 25). Columbia Dedicates a Building To Help Teach Handicapped. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Doubly Disabled. (1999, Nov 29). The Times of India (1861-Current)
- Rajinder, S. S. (2000, Dec 05). Disabled, But Able. The Times of India (1861-Current)
- Wolfensohn, J. D. (2002, Dec 03). Poor, Disabled and Shut Out. The Washington Post (1974-Current File)
- Amartya Sen and, J. W. (2004, Dec 03). Challenging Task: Helping the Disabled To Lead Fulfilling Lives. The Times of India (1861-Current)
- Rucha Biju Chitrodia, T. N. N. (2006, Nov 14). Differently Abled To Get the Corporate Feel: International Day Of the Disabled. The Times of India (1861-Current)
- Cheers To That. (2006, Nov 25). The Times of India (1861-Current)
- Get Connected! (2006, Nov 30). The Times of India (1861-Current)
- Ruadhan, M. C. (2007, Dec 04). Call For Budget To Prioritise People With Disabilities. The Irish Times (1921-Current File)
- Health Board. (2013, Nov 26). The Irish Times (1921-Current File)
- Murtagh, P. (2013, Dec 04). 'We Feel We Are Invisible Because Of Our Disability. Please Look At Our Ability'. The Irish Times (1921-Current File)
- Explore an interesting range of historical dissertations on disabilities in Pocketknowledge, the digital archive of Teachers College, where you can find additional resources on institutional members, programs, experimental and demonstration schools, and other initiatives.
- International Symbol of Access, Wikimedia Commons
- Special News Slide Courtesy of EdLab Studios
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