University of Edinburgh

Special Education & Disability Act and SI Education

Presented on Tuesday, 12 March 2002

Implications for Deaf Students in FE

by Marian Grimes

NB: references in square brackets relate to the Disability Rights Commission's Code of Practice (Post 16)*

*referred to as the Code of Practice throughout this handout (details at the end)

Basic principle
"Disabled people should have the same opportunities as non-disabled people to benefit wherever possible from whatever education or other related provision is available" [1.2]

Definition of discrimination

  • Less favourable treatment which can't be justified (from 1 September 2002)
  • Failure to make reasonable adjustments causing substantial disadvantage (from 1 September 2002 - additional auxiliary aids by 1 September 2003 and physical features by 1 September 2005)

Who is covered?

  • Students with a physical and/or mental disability which is substantial, adverse and long-term. These relate to the ability to do normal day-to-day activities. [A1.15 exemptions are interesting!]

The definitions are different to those within the F&HE (Scotland) Act and the Learning and Skills Act 2000 (both of which relate to learning as poopsed to the ability to do normal day-to-day activities). [A1.17] Could be confusing!

Who have responsibilities?

  • Most providers of further, higher, adult and community education (for exemptions see the Code of Practice, Section 3)

What services are covered?

  • Any services that are provided for students, including education, training, leisure facilities and accommodation. It also covers admissions, enrolments and exclusions.

Can an organisation justify less favourable treatment?

  • Only if one of the following conditions is fulfilled:
    - it is necessary to maintain academic standards
    - it is necessary to maintain other prescribed standards
    - it is of a prescribed type
    - it occurs in prescribed circumstances
    - the reasons are both material to the circumstances of the case and substantial

What is a 'reasonable' adjustment?

  • Organisations must take notice of the Act, but individual circumstances will vary (eg; depending on the type of service offered; the type of organisation and its size, and the effect of the disability on the student)
    Some of the factors which may be important are:
    - the need to maintain academic and other prescribed standards
    - the finances available to the organisation
    - grants, loans, aids and services which may be available to the student
    - the cost of making an adjustment
    - how practical the adjustment is
    - health and safety requirements
    - the relevant interests of other people including other students
  • It is an 'anticipatory duty' (don't wait until a disabled person applies before thinking about making adjustments!)

Who is responsible for ensuring that students are not discriminated against in exams?

  • The awarding body of the qualification
Some grey areas for consideration

Staff training

  • What is the minimum content/quality of Deaf Awareness Training? (eg; if a college's defence is resting on the fact that staff have been trained [2.11; 8.8A])

Needs assessments

  • What is the minimum acceptable standard of needs assessments (eg; for type and quantity of support at pre-entry, post-entry and exit stages)?

Provision of support workers (eg; BSL/English interpreters)

  • What are the minimum acceptable types and levels of qualifications which workers should have? [3.19B; 6.7B]

Entrance requirements - literacy

  • Are all courses clear about how far specific standards of written English are essential - in addition to knowledge and skills in the subject? [4.4B; 4.11A; 4.15C; 4.25A; 4.27A; 6.16A]