Project Participate promotes participation by children and adolescents in
their school programs. Participation denotes the individual's level of
involvement in various life areas (ICIDH-2 Beta-2 Draft, July 1999), including
play, social and educational activities. Each child's level of participation is
the result of a complex relationship between the child's condition, personal
characteristics, and the circumstances in which the child lives.
Schools can facilitate or hinder participation by students who have
disabilities. Different environments may have very different impacts on the same
individual with impairments or activity limitations. An environment with
barriers, or without facilitators, will restrict participation, while
environments that are more facilitating may increase participation. Barriers to
participation might include inaccessible buildings or the lack of such
facilitators as assistive devices.
To maximize each pupil's participation we need to evaluate the child's
ability to take part in school activities and to identify conditions that impede
participation. The standard against which a child's participation is compared is
that of a child of similar age without disability in school. Participation is
considered to be restricted when there is a discrepancy between the observed
participation by a student with a disability and the expected participation of
another youngster without a similar disability.
When participation is low, interventions are designed to remove barriers or
provide facilitators to increase participation (Rosenberg & Robinson, 1989;
Rosenberg et al, 1992). Strategies used to increase participation are very
diverse, ranging from high and low tech assistive devices, adaptation of
activities, to changing society attitudes that limit participation.