The ACCESS project strives to promote access to the general education curriculum and make positive changes not just in the classroom, but in the way people think about individuals with significant intellectual disabilities. Despite the changes that have occurred in education we are still faced with the outdated beliefs people hold about students with disabilities and what they can or cannot do. These stereotyped limits have caused us to shortchange students by limiting their opportunities to participate in the meaningful activities which help them lead fulfilling lives.
In keeping with this thinking, the ACCESS project supports the beliefs that:
- All students deserve access to curriculum and instruction that is challenging and purposeful
- All students should have opportunities to be educated and learn in classrooms with their peers
- All students should be valued as unique and contributing members of their school community
To support these beliefs, we encourage people to make the “least dangerous assumption.” The concept states, “that in the absence of absolute evidence, it is essential to make the assumption, that if proven false would be the least dangerous to the individual” (Anne Donnellan, 1984). In other words, we must always assume that an individual has the most potential to succeed no matter what.
Cheryl Jorgensen, Ph.D. expanded the concept as a potential to help members of society change their views of individuals with disabilities. Read Dr. Jorgensen’s article – Least Dangerous Assumption: A Challenge to Create a New Paradigm