Cultural Diversity Introduction



saroja[1]Saroja, who comes from India, speaks fluent English and has a post-graduate degree in English Literature. She keeps her maiden name, wears jeans and t-shirts on most occasions, and her hair short. Over the course of her ten years in the U.S., she has become acculturated to the nuances of interpersonal communication styles of mainstream America. Yet, Saroja, whose 16-year-old daughter with developmental disabilities receives special education services, admits that when it comes to communicating with the school about her daughter, “it’s a whole different ballgame!”

What is it about home-school communication that makes otherwise articulate and self-confident parents feel inadequate? Research indicates that many middle-class, Caucasian or mainstream American parents experience feelings of inadequacy and loss of control when dealing with schools in the process of ensuring an appropriate education for their child with special needs (Turnbull & Turnbull, 2001). However, there are additional factors or characteristics that specifically affect families from culturally diverse or minority backgrounds, that make home-school communication “a whole different ballgame.” In this module, we will present some of these challenges with specific reference to secondary transition for professionals working with culturally diverse families.


Learning Objectives

By the end of this online training, you will be able to:

Session 1: Three Levels of Cultural Awareness

  • Describe three levels of cultural awareness
  • State why cultural self-awareness is important to transition planning
  • Identify aspects of your personal web
  • Describe an instance where aspects of your web were helpful in interactions with parents and an instance when they were not.
  • Conclude that each person has a culture

Session 2: Secondary Transition and Cultural Diversity

  • Explain how culture can impact families? participation in the educational decision-making process
  • Identify the core values imbedded in transition-based professional practice
  • Analyze the issue of cultural capital as it relates to traditionally disenfranchised families
  • Demonstrate understanding of the impact of culture on your own transition-based professional practice, using your personal web.
  • Identify some of the core values imbedded in secondary transition services, with specific reference to self-determination, living arrangements, work and issues related to sexuality
  • Explain the impact of culture on these four areas of transition services

Session 3: What is Cultural Reciprocity?

  • Define cultural reciprocity
  • Identify the four steps towards cultural reciprocity
  • Apply the four steps towards your own practice, using a transition-based case example