The Role of Schools in Promoting Accessibility and Inclusivity
Schools are important vessels of learning for students, parents, and teachers alike. Schools are an important part of any community, as they shape learning opportunities for future members of society.
The Role of Accessibility
On a general scope, accessibility allows everyone (both children and adults) to enjoy their own entitlements and rights, allowing them to participate in events with independence and equal opportunity. Since schools are important in society, accessibility is necessary for not only teachers and students but the community, as well.
Physical accessibility, along with an improved design, is an important factor to consider when speaking of accessibility. Schools must coordinate with engineers and contractors when integrating wheelchair ramps, for example, or consult with a stair specialist to make sure that stairs are suitable for people with physical disabilities. These factors should be considered during the planning or reorganisation stages of a school.
Accessibility is indeed for everyone, but it is those with special needs who can greatly benefit from this. Aside from physical accessibility options, assistive technologies and devices that support numerous learning needs are necessary. Technologies like these enable people to move through the community and help them do everyday things, such as reading books or lifting objects.
These tools also enable them to live more independently, as well as promote inclusive learning. Physical accessibility features such as ramps and doorways are important, but providing assistance to those with special needs also promotes accessibility for them through the right of education and inclusivity.
The Right to Learn
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes some barriers that deny children with special needs to learning and the need to remove these barriers for being inclusive.
- Social discrimination can lead to parents thinking that there is something wrong with their children, thus, neglecting the kids’ right to education. This can discourage these children in going to school.
- Inaccessible physical structures create barriers for those with disabilities and their families, as well, hampering education.
- Materials, methodologies, and learning aids may not be suitable for children with particular needs (sensory and visual impairments, for example). Teaching methods that are more tailor fit should be provided to provide equal learning opportunities.
- A lack of awareness also restricts children’s right to learn. Accessibility involves not only the physical aspects but also the needs of the students in and beyond the school setting. For instance, a ramp will not be useful for kids who have hearing problems.
The Role of Schools and the Government
Schools have legal obligations to assist persons with special needs and provide access needed for their disabilities. The Disability Discrimination Act of 1992 states that it is unlawful for schools to discriminate persons with the grounds of a disability. If enrolled in an independent school, funding for a student with a disability is eligible care of the Australian government and local state government. The funding will depend on the severity of the student’s needs.
Accessibility and inclusivity involve more than just redesigning the physical aspects of a school, but also considering the learning needs of the students. Providing accessibility and inclusivity not only benefits the students but also builds a more collective society with more productive members.