To facilitate the equal participation of pupils with disabilities in inclusive education, assessments and supports for them should be conducted based on an interactive approach between the medical and social models of disability. To achieve this goal, South Korea recently established a new law offering holistic support for pupils with disabilities–that is, on both the individual and environmental levels. However, in comparison with the comprehensive support provided by special education services, the assessments required for children to be eligible for special education services still rely on diagnostic evaluations in the medical model. This discrepancy between diagnostic evaluations (medical model) and special education services (interactive model) has hindered effective inclusive education to encourage the full participation of pupils with disabilities in South Korea.
The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health for Children and Youth (ICF-CY) has been recommended as a valuable framework and tool for comprehensive assessment and support in special education services, from both the individual and social perspectives. The ICF-CY was developed to offer a universal classification system available for documenting childhood functioning and health by the World Health Organization in 2007. The ICF-CY can help record a profile of individual children’s functioning and development in a holistic way, ranging from the characteristics of each individual child to the environment surrounding them. For this reason, many countries around the world have introduced the ICF-CY in special education services to provide comprehensive assessment and support.
Whilst the comprehensiveness of the ICF-CY contributes to a holistic assessment for more effective provision of special education services, its extensive classification items have been regarded as a major challenge to its efficient application. Thus, this study was conducted to increase the utility of the ICF-CY for a holistic assessment in Korean special education services by asking national experts to identify essential categories of functioning of pupils with physical disabilities in different school age groups. Delphi method, as a formal consensus procedure, was used to derive three code sets for pupils with physical disabilities corresponding to three age groups: 3–5 years (preschool age), 6–12 years (elementary school age), and 13–18 years (secondary school age). The representative sample consisted of 35 national experts in rehabilitation and special education, as well as parents from national parents’ organizations; all completed a succession of iterative e-mail surveys to rate the relevance and appropriateness of the categories on the functioning of pupils with physical disabilities comprising the age-based “ICF-CY Code Sets for Pupils with Physical Disabilities.” The final code sets will contribute to resolving the discrepancy between diagnostic evaluation and holistic special education services, by serving as profiles for the functioning and development of pupils with physical disabilities, which can be used in various disciplines related to special education services in South Korea.
Keywords: interactive approach, medical and social models of disability, special education services, ICF-CY, holistic assessment, ICF-CY Code Sets for Pupils with Physical Disabilities