Lost in Meaning

Validation of Understandings of Inclusive Education in Different Languages and Cultural Contexts


  • Seyda Subasi University of Vienna, Center for Teacher Education
  • Barbara Hager University of Vienna, Center for Teacher Education
  • Michelle Proyer University of Vienna, Center for Teacher Education


Inclusion, inclusive education, multilingual research, multicultural research, sign language


The term “inclusive education” has become a frequently used keyword for research due to the aim of achieving inclusivity in education and society. The term is used and translated in and across global documents that shape national policy and research as well as international research. The popularity, but also the emergency of, inclusion thus yields to international research that takes place in a multilingual context.  However, this goes beyond the ability to speak such languages or translate research findings correctly. In this article, we will discuss the barriers toward translating “inclusive education” as a challenging concept across different languages and cultures. As an increasingly popular concept, “inclusion” is encountered as the topic of several studies from multiple disciplines. Transferring the meaning of “inclusion” can be challenging due to the global usage of the concept in several contexts. However, there are challenges even when the issue is confined to the educational context. This article will tackle the ways used to validate the translation based on three cases derived from three studies, respectively, international research set in multiple country contexts, research translating sign languages into written language, and multilingual research in a national context. The first case will focus on the barriers due to the cultural discrepancies between written and sign languages by concentrating on the pragmatic usages of “inclusive education” in Deaf culture in Austria, while the second case examines translingual processes while conducting research on “inclusive education” within the collaboration of Austria and Thailand and presenting research findings in native languages and English. The third case will tackle multilingual and multicultural research on “inclusive education” conducted with migrants in Austria.