When I first crossed the doorstep of an American high school as a 17-year-old new immigrant from Russia, my jaw dropped – kids in wheelchairs were playing tag in the wide hall, a cute teen-age couple was communicating animatedly in what appeared to be sign language; a blind boy was walking next to a classmate laughing at some kind of a joke. I turned to my American cousin and asked in still rudimentary English, “Immigrants here sent to special handicapped school?”
He stared at me uncomprehending, not realizing that in my 10 years of Moscow schooling I never had classmates with disabilities. In fact, until I went to the United States in the early 90’s I hadn’t seen many people with disabilities. Back home they were next to invisible, confined to special institutions or their homes, as the concept of an inclusive society didn’t exist.
Read more of Tanya Lokshina's Human Rights Watch article HERE.