Education centres are institutions where learning, creativity, and social interaction thrive. They should be a safe and comfortable space for every student, regardless of their age.
However, that’s not always the case.
While navigating through school and college life can be challenging for any student, it can be particularly difficult for students with disabilities. The unaccommodating, inaccessible and rigid classroom framework often puts them at a disadvantage.
It is vital to address this issue because there are at least 93 million children with disabilities around the world. They have the right to live in an inclusive world. Yet, most education systems aren’t equipped to meet their needs. Even in Australia, 1 in 10 (10% or 380,000) school students have a disability. Out of these, only 12% attend a special school and the rest study at a mainstream school. It calls for a need to highlight the challenges faced by students with disability in the classroom and offer the required solutions.
In this blog, we will discuss the most prevalent challenges in schools for students with disability. Moreover, we will also discuss how to overcome these challenges and make the education system inclusive.
3 Challenges Students With Disabilities Face in Educational Settings
1. No Inclusive Education
Students with disability can struggle to focus during a lesson due to the lack of support and resources they need to thrive. The majority of institutions do not provide inclusive education, whether in terms of teachers, books, and curriculum, as well as in terms of facilities, equipment, transportation, or toilets. It also extends to classroom decorations, lighting and other stimuli that may make students struggle to pay attention.
Inclusive education is essential to learning. Therefore, it is necessary to break down environmental barriers that limit students with disabilities. It may include presenting information in different formats and facilitating adjustment of lighting and seating. Moreover, facilities should provide water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) facilities that are inclusive to everyone.
2. Lack of Diversity Acceptance
School systems often fail students with disability. Social stigma leads to discrimination against them, including bullying and harassment. Also, since schools were not designed with people with disabilities in mind, the administration hesitates to offer admissions. In fact, several schools that embrace diverse races, socioeconomic backgrounds and sexes are rigid about disabilities.
Negative attitudes from peers and community members impact a student with disabilities’ self-esteem. Schools need to revisit the rules to welcome all students. The first step should begin with teachers who open doors to peer monitoring and help students with disabilities to spark friendships with other students.
3. Inaccessible Physical Environments
Educational facilities should be made accessible to students with disabilities. They should have elevators, ramps and wheelchair-accessible toilets to remove physical barriers. The institute’s infrastructure should be able to accommodate the disabled.
Be vocal about supporting students with disabilities. Advocate for them and the resources they need. This could be assistive technology for nonverbal learners, accessible doors for students in wheelchairs or faculty who specialise in special education.
How Does NDIS Help With Disability Inclusion in Education Facilities?
The NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) is a social reform scheme implemented by an independent statutory agency called NDIA (National Disability Insurance Agency). It offers individualised support and services for people under 65 with permanent and significant disabilities.
While the NDIS does not play a direct role in students’ educational or learning outcomes, it offers support in other forms. It can provide funds to students with disabilities whose daily activities are impacted by the disability.
The NDIS support coordination may include the following –
- Personal care and support
- Transport to and from school
- Specialist transition support to and from school to further education, training or employment.
Students with disability can also access NDIS occupational therapy to achieve their goals. Here are some examples of NDIS support –
- Assistive technology, such as hearing aids, wheelchairs and personal communication devices.
- Specialised behaviour intervention and training for school staff to help students with specific support needs.
- Therapies that may help students improve their skills and abilities.
- Resources for independent living and self-care, like NDIS physiotherapy.
- Support to develop social and communication skills.
- Specialist behaviour management plans to navigate daily life with minimal disruption.
- Travel training so students with disability can travel to school independently.
- Support and resources for students with disability to find or keep a part-time job.
Every student deserves equal opportunities in the classroom, irrespective of their physical, mental and intellectual abilities. Therefore, it is vital that students with disabilities feel included in their learning environments. An inclusive learning platform will enable their full and effective participation in society equally with others and pave the way for a better future.