There’s an interesting discussion following this article on MSNBC’s Web site: Texas yearbook labels some special needs students ’mentally retarded’. What most of the commenters are missing as they argue inclusion and “PCness” is that students with special needs are students first, and that those special needs are medical diagnoses. The students in special classes should have been included in the yearbook just like any other students, and treated just like any other students. Noting their individual diagnoses in the yearbook at all was inappropriate and irrelevant.
I wouldn’t caption a photograph “blind student Peanut was the lead in this year’s production of Hamlet” any more than I’d caption it “ADD student Goober was the lead in this year’s production of Hamlet,” “asthmatic student Cashew was the lead in this year’s production of Hamlet,” or “HPV+ student Walnut was the lead in this year’s production of Hamlet.” These students are people,not diagnoses. They, and the people that love them, don’t want them to be defined by those medical conditions any more than you want to be defined by yours.