Despite long-standing antidiscrimination laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which are meant to guarantee equal access, many school and community choirs appear to be populated primarily by students with typical physical, cognitive, and behavioral abilities. The purpose of this article is to review research and professional literature on integration of individuals with significant cognitive, speech/language, physical and/or behavioral challenges into school and community choirs. Because of the small amount of literature specifically pertaining to choirs, this review also includes pertinent literature from other performance ensembles and from elementary general music classrooms. Based on this review of literature, I will identify and describe common features or approaches of successfully integrated general music, instrumental, and choral programs. Finally, I will summarize these findings specifically with regard to their utility in school and community choral settings, with the aim of illustrating how choral directors might better include singers with special needs in their choirs.
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