Disability is one of the most important issues in the contemporary society because stigmatization of people with disabilities contributed to the formation of biases and prejudices, which put them into the disadvantageous position compared to people who do not have problems of disability. Such biases and prejudices contributed to the discrimination of people with disabilities, which has been eliminated consistently since the emergence of the Civil Rights movement and introduction of legal changes. Nevertheless, today, the problem of people with disabilities and their discrimination persists because many biases and prejudices are resilient.
Disability is the complex notion that involves limited opportunities and special needs of people, but it does not mean the inferiority of individuals compared to those who do not have disability. At the same time, ability is a set of skills, knowledge and opportunities to exercise them to perform specific tasks. In such a situation, the risk of the widening gap between individuals with disabilities and those who do not have them, because disability can limit opportunities for individuals to exercise their knowledge, skills and opportunities to the full extent; while those, who do not have disabilities, can take the full advantage of their skills, knowledge and opportunities (Kudlick, 2005).
In this regard, the attitude of the social environment to people with disabilities may be crucial for their social standing and opportunities to stand on the equal ground for others.
One of the major challenges people with disabilities face, is the challenge in their professional training and development. Disability may limit learning abilities of individuals that prevent them from obtaining the target education and making a successful career. For example, many students with learning disabilities, such as ASD, have difficulties with learning that prevent them from successful learning. In such situation, they cannot complete their education just like other students do, while the lack of education limits their career opportunities consistently.
On the other hand, many researchers (Mansell, 2003) point out that students with disabilities may be as successful as other students, while some students may be even more successful than the average student in certain subjects.
In addition, disability may be a substantial obstacle on the way to the professional development of individuals and to their career. In contrast, often it is not the disability proper but the prejudice of employers that becomes an obstacle on the way of people with disabilities. However, such discrimination tends to disappear due to legal changes, including the introduction of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and current policies aiming at the inclusion of disabled people. In this regard, the discrimination of people with disabilities persists because the power of prejudices and biases is very robust.
Indeed, educators should be aware of special needs of students with disabilities. They should realize that students with disabilities are no different from other students but they have special needs, which educators should match to help them to succeed in their learning and reach a considerable academic progress just like other students do. In fact, students with disabilities are not inferior compared to their peers but they just have special needs. For example, some researchers (Mansell, 2003) admit that even children with serious mental disabilities may be integrated in the learning process successfully on the condition of meeting needs of those students but the problem is that educators are not trained to work with such students. This is why they have difficulties while working with students with disabilities and the integration of students into the learning process and into their peer groups becomes quite difficult.
For instance, there is another issue related to abilities, which often remains unnoticed by educators and researchers, which is the issue of excessive abilities. What is meant here is the fact that some students are gifted in certain fields, which make them different from other students and, to a certain extent, put them in the position similar to the position of students with disabilities (Enns, 2013). Excessive abilities lead to the focus of students on the specific subject, which is particularly interesting for them, where they are particularly successful.
On that premise, gifted students may have difficulties with developing positive interpersonal relations with their peers. In fact, peers may feel the difference of gifted students because of their excessive abilities that may lead to the development of the sense of inferiority-superiority in relationships between the average and gifted students. In addition, gifted students may stay too focused on their favorite subjects or particular interests that also prevent them from developing positive interpersonal relations with other students. In such a way, students with excessive abilities have difficulties with building up positive interpersonal relationships with other students just like students with disabilities.
Thus, the concept of ability/disability turns out to be pivotal for the modern education system and society at large because it influences consistently the development of students and position of individuals with disabilities and excessive abilities. In this regard, disability and excessive ability are two extremes, which may raise problems in the personal and professional development of individuals because they face the risk of the development of poor interpersonal relations with their peers. At the same time, both students with disabilities and excessive abilities need the integration into their classroom environment and development of positive interpersonal relationships with their peers.