Students raising their hands in a classroom


Inclusion: What does it mean?

“Inclusion means:

  • offering the same opportunities for people with and without disabilities
  • welcoming everyone
  • building community
  • emphasizing cooperation
  • seeking to understand, celebrate, and support everyone’s differences (or diversity)
  • presuming everyone’s competence
  • providing a safe and socially comfortable environment for all
  • teaching respect, understanding and dignity to people of all abilities
  • embracing changes that facilitate full participation
  • actively reaching out to people who are traditionally excluded or marginalized
  • fostering a sense of belonging to community as a respected and valued person
  • honoring the intrinsic value of each person’s life

In schools: Inclusion means that students with disabilities are educated full-time in age appropriate general education classrooms in their neighborhood schools with support provided to enable students, teachers and the entire school community to succeed.

In youth-serving organizations (like the Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, camps, etc.): All children have equal opportunity to participate with their typically developing peers, with support from those peers, staff or volunteers.”

(, “Including Samuel Screening Toolkit,” 2009.)

More Information

  • Least Restrictive Environment and Inclusion: What is the difference?

    IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act) does not use the term "inclusion." However, IDEA does require school districts to place students in the least restrictive environment (LRE). Learn more about this difference.

  • The Settlement Agreement

    P.J., et al v. State of Connecticut, Board of Education, et al. was filed in 1991 on behalf of five school-age children with mental retardation and their families. .” On May 22, 2002, a Settlement Agreement was approved and 5 goals and outcomes were determined.

  • Strategies to Support Inclusion

    There are many ways that teachers can help include students in the general education classroom.

  • Inclusion Success Stories

    Effective, successful inclusion is not always easy, but it can be done. Check out a few stories of successful inclusion.

  • Helpful Resources

    Interested in more information? Click here to view articles and find other organizations with information on inclusion.

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