Improving Access and Meeting the Communication Needs of Deaf and VI Children with Complex Needs
Presented in February, 2004
From policy to practice
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
- Right to know what information is held about you
- Inaccurate information must be corrected
- Appeal to courts or Information Commissioner
- Eight enforeceable data protection principles, lincluding
- fair and lawful processing
- specified purposes
- adequate and relevant, not excessive
- accurate and up to date
- held no longer than necessary
Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002
- Right of access to information held by Scottish public authorities
- Some information is exempt
- Scottish Information Commissioner to promote good pracctice and compliance
- Information to be provided in applicant's preferred format
Special Education & Disability Act 2001
- Prevent discrimination because of disability in education
- Applied to preschool, school, FE and HE
- Must not treat disabled learners less favourably - current and future learners
- Reasonable adjustments to avoid disadvantage (take into account financial resources, cost of taking step, etc)
- Duty does not apply to auxiliary aids and services nor to the removal of physical barriers
- DRC has conciliation service
Standards in Scotland's Schools (etc) Act 2000
- Three important new principles
- child's right to receive school education
- purpose of education is to promote development of personality, talents and mental and physical abilites
- education authorities must have regard to the views of children and young people
- Presumption of mainstream placement, unless
- mainstream school not suited to ability and aptitude
- incompatible with provision to other children there
- incurs unreasonable public expenditure
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
- welfare of the child is paramount
- children's views should be sought and taken into account
- child's religion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background should be given due regard in the provision of services.
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)
- Improving access to the curriculum
- Improving access to the physical environment of schools
- Improving communication with pupils with disabilities
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:
- specialised items of hardware and software, such as an alternative keyboard, mouse or switches can be added easily;
- software needed by pupils with disabilities, such as speech output or screen magnification, can be installed;
- the full range of accessibility options within the operating system can be utilised, for example, to slow down mouse speed or keyboard repeat rate, or to enlarge screen fonts or reduce screen clutter;
- equipment can be placed in accessible locations, for example, so that wheelchair users can reach the keyboard and see the screen;
- access privileges are flexible enough to enable staff to make necessary changes to afford access (for example, to adjust control panels or save individual settings for specific programs)."
54. "Improvements will include:
- physical access (such as architectural planning for accessibility; the installation of ramps, handrails, widened doorways, lifts, automatic doors, accessible toilets, showers and changing areas, adapted/adjustable furniture and equipment, sufficient space for manoeuvering and storing equipment, floor coverings and evacuation procedures).
- access for pupils with visual impairments (such as; improvements to signage, route finding systems to enable pupils to find their way round a school easily, colour contrasting for, eg; door handles and steps to enable pupils to make best use if residual vision, adjustable lighting, blinds, tactile paving outside the school, evacuation procedures);
- access for pupils with hearing impairments (such as; induction loops/radio systems/ infrared systems, adjustable lighting, shound insulation for walls, floors and ceilings, evacuation procedures, floor coverings);
- access for pupils with other disabilities (such as requirements for space; the provision of pupil support bases, quiet rooms, sensory rooms/play areas, therapy rooms, etc and way-finding systems)."
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.
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.