University of Edinburgh

Planning to Improve Access to Education for pupils with Sensory Impairment.
Council Policies and Implementation

Presented in January, 2004

The First Round of Accessibility Strategies

  • Majority of LAs referred to definition of disability in DDA.
  • Some listed groups of children to be included - but children with non-visible disabilities often not included.
  • Strategies referred to overlapping categories of children with SEN/ASN.
  • Links made between accessibility & support for learning/inclusion strategy
  • Some strategies included children with social, emotional & behavioural difficulties & their behaviour strategy

Preparing & Implementing the Strategy

  • Variation in extent to which LAs followed advice in Guidance on Preparing Accessibility Strategies
  • Variation in nature of consultation with parents, vol orgs & children - some LAs committed to further consultation
  • Tendency to focus audit on physical environment
  • In future, need for closer scrutiny of curriculum and communication/information strategies.

Structure of strategies
Different approaches:

  • Accessibility strategy subsumed within document with information about broad rage of issues concerning SEN/ASN
  • Short strategy prepared - future strategy to be part of Children’s Services Plan
  • Produced document which clearly outlines LA’s approach to accessibility, but with links to other documents.
  • Tension - integrated approach important, but clear, identifiable statement on accessibility also needed.
  • Some (but not all) strategies had prioritised action plan.

The three planning duties: Access to the curriculum

  • About planning at strategic level, not for individual pupils
  • Some authorities reviewing curricular guidance
  • Many committed to training for those responsible for QA & curriculum
  • Little evidence that authorities considering access to particular subject areas.
  • LAs recognised need for systems to assess needs & make physical adaptations, meet individual computing needs etc.
  • Some had contracts in place (e.g. with CALL Centre
  • Many, but not all, recognised need for improved access to extra-curricular activities.

The three planning duties:Access to the physical environment

  • All LAs recognised need to audit school estate & prioritise improvements
  • Need to address individual needs as well as make long-term improvements
  • Major upgrades planned through PPPs.
  • LAs without PPPs also committed to audit, but less likely to have firm plans on place.
    • Different goals -
    • make all schools accessible to all pupils
    • make particular schools accessible to all pupils
    • target specific schools for certain groups (eg; pupils with autistic spectrum disorder)

The three planning duties:Improving communication & delivery of information

  • Many LAs did not have specific plans in this area.
  • Most Las recognised need to make school info. (eg; handbooks, newsletters, course descriptors) available in alternative formats. Also applies to RoNs, assessments etc.
  • Small number recognised need to give pupils classwork & homework in alternative formats
  • One authority recognised disabled children & families need disability-specific & general information
  • LA drew distinction between:
    • individual communication
    • general communication
    • communication with disabled children & families

  • Few LAs referred to making information available in other languages - links not always made with communication & equal opportunities strategies
  • Most LAs expressed desire to improve communication with children & young people incl. Disabled children e.g. by discussing IEP targets.
  • Only some LAs had clear plans for disseminating accessibility strategy in alternative formats

Evaluating & monitoring the strategy & audience

  • Most LAs stated how they would monitor the strategy but some did not.
  • Monitoring to be done by internal working group or within overall QA system
  • Few LAs mentioned external independent monitoring group or consultant to challenge plans & judgements of success.
  • Many authorities unclear about target audience - documents lengthy with many cross references & technical language
  • Only minority gave web reference & gave details about how readers might contribute views or make complaints.
  • Only some LAs explained how to obtain strategy.