Improving Access and Meeting the Communication Needs of Deaf and VI Children with Complex Needs

Presented in February, 2004

From policy to practice

The law...

In the beginning...

UN Standard rules on the Equalisation of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities 1993: - 22 detailed rules

- rule 5 on accessibility bound member states to programmes of action to make the physical environment accesible and to undertake measures to provide access to information and communication

- rule 6 on education bound member states to recognising the principle of equal education opportunities for disabled children and adults.

Data Protection Act 1998

Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Special Education & Disability Act 2001

Standards in Scotland's Schools (etc) Act 2000

Education (Disability Stretegies and Pupils' Educational Records) (Scotland) Act 2002

Introduced new duties in line with DDA and following SENDA 2001

- strategy to plan to improve access to environment and curriculum for, and to improve communication with disabled pupils (Local Authority Accessibility Strategies)

- duty is on Local Authorities, independent and grant-aided schools

- first written accessibility strategies by April 2003

Education (Additional Support for Learning)(Scotland) Bill 2003

- 'Additional support needs' replaces special educational needs.
- Can request educational, psychological and medical assessment.
- Coordinated Support Plans for children with needs arising from long-term multiple or complex factors - replace Record of Needs.
- Mediation and ASN Tribunal system to resolve conflicts
- Future Needs Assessment ends
- EAs duty to coordinate support set out in the CSP, Coordinator named in CSP - doesn't have to be education worker
- Dispute resolution if no CSP
- Free, independent mediation services
- Children's participation encouraged
- Code of practice

Children (Scotland) Act 1995

Principal Act for Children's Services

- fulfils Government obligations on implementing the UN Convention of the rights of the child and the European Convention on human rights
- three important principles

Accessibility Guidance

SEED Guidance on preparing accessibility strategies

This guidance advises on:

- the legal position and coverage of planning duty;
- the three strands or duties which accessibility strategies must cover;
- the main processes local authorities and non-local authority schools should consider in preparing accessibility strategies.

The Three Duties (p15)

Access to the curriculum

40. "Pupils with disabilities should as far as possible have access to a full and broad curriculum, similar to that followed by their non-disabled peers. At the same time, many of these pupils may need additional support and/or different approaches to teaching to enable them to learn and to benefit from the curriculum. Clearly many adjustments to allow ppupils to access a full curriculum will still need to be provided on the basis of individual pupils' needs and therefore will continue to be made available through the SEN Framework or in response to the new Disability Discrimination Act duties."

ICT and access to the curriculum

48. "In reviewing existing contracts and, if necessary, negotiating new ones, a commissioning body should ensure that:

Physical Access

54. "Improvements will include:

Improving communication and the delivery of school information

62. "The third duty requires responsible bodies to improve communication with pupils with disabilities. Responsible bodies should take steps to improve how these pupils can give their views on any issue about which they have an interest, gather in those views and consider them. consideration should be given to whether class work or homework could be given in alternative forms, and , also, consider how any homework or other work pupils do in alternative forms can best be marked/commented on by school staff. Pupils' communication with teaching and auxiliary staff as part of their learning should also be condered under the 'access to the curriculum" duty."

64. "In particular, this communication duty covers the delivery of information normally provided to pupils in writing. This 'school information' includes any information given to pupils by the school, such as; handouts and worksheets, textbooks, timetables, handbooks, test and examination papers, posters around the school, information about school events. Responsible bodies should ensure that any information that is important to enable pupils to learn or to be able to participate in school activities can be provided in an alternative form if the pupil may have difficulty reading information provided in standard written form."

66. "Information may need to be provided in alternative forms, such as providing information orally (for example, to ensure that a pupil has understood information provided on posters or in their timetable), in Braille, in large print, in audio formats, through ICT, through sign language (either on video or by using appropriately qualified teachers or auxiliary staff) or through a recognised symbol system (such as Makaton). The responsible body should ensure that this information is provided within a reasonable time so that it dows not place pupils with disabilities at a disadvantage in relation to other pupils. Therefore, demands would have to be anticipated in advance and school staff would need to make sure that any materials to be provided in alternative forms, such as Braille, large print, audio tape, video signing and electronic files were provided for translation well in advance of the time when they will be needed."


101. Local authorities should ensure that accessibility is fully addressed in negotiating future PPP contracts. Authorities should not just assume that private partners will automatically consider all the necessary accessibility requirements when building or refurbishing schools. This will be especially important when negotiating building specifications and contracts for new builds - long-term future requirements for space, access, lighting, colour contrasting and signage to make it easier for pupils to find their way around, etc, should be incorporated into the initial design.

Accessibility Guidelines

48. Access to the curriculum; keyboards, mice, settings, etc

54. Pysical access: ramps, handrails, adjustable equipment; signage, colour contrasting; induction loops/infrared systems, adjustable lighting, sound insulation; pupil support base, sensory room.

64 & 65 Access to communication & information

42 & 43 Interagency working & joing training

62. Consulting children for their views.