NUI Galway Conference to Discuss the Right to Inclusive Education for Children with Disabilities

Feb 18 2014 Posted: 11:19 GMT

NUI Galway’s Centre for Disability and Law Policy will ask “Is it time for the US landmark decision, Brown v. Board of Education, to be applied to children with disabilities?”  

Tuesday, 18th February 2014 On the 60th Anniversary of the seminal case of Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the Centre for Disability and Law Policy at NUI Galway in association with Leuven Institute for Human Rights and Critical Studies (LIHRICS) will host a conference to discuss the Concept of the Right to Inclusive Education for Children with Disabilities, on Saturday 22nd February in Áras Moyola, NUI Galway from 9.15am to 5pm.

Sixty years after the landmark case, separate educational provision is still the norm for many children with disabilities throughout Europe, where parents of disabled children are not being provided with access to mainstream schools and staff, which have the capacity to meet the needs and provide appropriate education for disabled children. In 2006 the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) Article 24 entered into force recognizing the right to education for people with disabilities, and the right it recognizes is the right to an effective and inclusive education.

The conference will discuss the concept of inclusive education, what is meant by inclusive education and what can lawyers do to ensure that the right to inclusive education becomes a reality for all. It will look at the particular legal tools that could be used to further the right to education for people with disabilities, and will raise the question, “Is it time for the decision taken at the case of Brown v. Board of Education, be applied to children with disabilities?” 

This unique conference will bring together academics and practitioners from the fields of law and education as well as parents who, because of their circumstances had to become advocates and litigants on behalf of their children.

The US Supreme Court stated, “In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he or she is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms…Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

Shivaun Quinlivan, Director LL.M in International and Comparative Disability Law and Policy, School of Law, NUI Galway commented “As Ireland prepares to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) we ask the question, are we ready? To attempt to answer that question we have set out a programme which we hope covers the aspects of concern and offers potential solutions.”  

Conference attendees will hear about the background and history behind the negotiations and the drafting of Article 24 of the UNCRPD from Professor Arlene Kanter from Syracuse University. Professor Michael Shevlin from Trinity College Dublin will discuss ‘Inclusive Education’ and what it means, while Dr. Gauthier de Beco from KU Leuven will discuss the content of Article 24 and what obligations it imposes on State parties. This session is followed by a Q&A and lunch. 

Mr. Luk Zerderloo from the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) willpresent an‘Overview of Inclusive Education in Europe’.

In a session on teaching, primary school Principal, Mr. Cóilín O’Coigligh will present a case study on the challenges to inclusion that exist in the Irish context today. This is followed by Mr. Richard Rieser from the World of Inclusion who has recently completed a review for UNICEF on preparing teachers for children with disabilities from an inclusive perspective.  This will be followed by a Q&A session.

The conference will then address the issue of litigating the right to education, Mr. James McNabb a parent of a child with a disability will discuss his story of litigating against the Department of Education to ensure that his son accessed an appropriate education. This is followed by Lycette Nelson, the Litigation Director from Mental Disability Advocacy Centre (MDAC) who will discuss ‘Strategic Litigation and the Right to Education.’ This is followed by a Q&A session.

Finally Professor Gerry Whyte from Trinity College Dublin who has written the seminal work on the topic of “Social Inclusion and the Legal System: Public Interest Law in Ireland” will act as Rapporteur for the conference. 

Separatelya Student Conference will take place on Friday 21st February from 5pm to 7pm, the event is free to all and students will address issues related to Article 24 of the UNCRPD.  The Friday event is split into two panels, the first panel will discuss, “Discreet Issues in respect of Inclusive Education” addressing issues such as inclusive education, early intervention and reasonable accommodation. 

The second panel will discuss the “Implementation of Article 24 UNCRPD in Various Jurisdictions”. The students will focus on their countries of origin, including, China, Kenya, Nepal and Uganda. 

For further details on the conference, speakers and registration visit


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