How does captioning help with inclusive education?

Inclusive education is an expectation for any student enrolled in a mainstream school, which is the case for the vast majority of Australian school students who have a disability.

Teacher and four primary school students using a laptop

In a recent article in The Conversation on inclusive education, Kathy Cologon, who is a senior lecturer at the Institute of Early Childhood at Macquarie University, outlined what she felt the concept of inclusive education really means:

  • The full inclusion of all children with no children being segregated.
  • Supports for inclusion are embedded within everyday practices.
  • There are no separate curricula or areas for disabled children.
  • That each child has individual differences is not ignored and those differences are not a burden.

How does captioning relate to these approaches and support inclusive education?

  1. Not being segregated means integrating and showing captions wherever possible throughout the school.  
  2. Audiovisual material is always provided with captions and the preferred delivery method is for everyone to be able to view the captions, on a TV or smartboard for example.
  3. Separate curricula means reviewing texts and other study materials to make sure that choosing captioned options is your first step so that you know a captioned DVD, streaming video or television program is available.
  4. By having mainstream captions that everyone uses, the need for captions is acknowledged but not presented as a special solution for a student, or group of students, but can benefit everybody. For example, if the class is creating video materials, either as a group or separately, the students should create captions for all of the videos.  This is a simple process that can be done in the classroom or at home.

A final key comment from Cologon is, “It is common for parents and teachers to worry that the inclusion of a child who experiences disability will lower the standard of education for children who do not experience disability.  However, research clearly demonstrates that this is not the case.”

In the context of providing captions, a key element is covering the up to a third of the class who may benefit from using captions, not just those identified as ‘needing’ captions, such as Deaf or hearing impaired students. This can be students who need assistance with literacy, students from linguistically diverse backgrounds, students who learn better through visual methods and students on the autism spectrum.