Video Description Persons who don’t seem to have impairments are trying to cope in a society which is designed for persons with diverse impairments. So: A Bank accountant uses sign-language. Telephone boots are low for wheelchair users. There are no steps in roads. Traffic lights have signs of a wheelchair user not of a standing person. Libraries have Braille books not printed ones. To what extent is our society accessible for everyone?
Reflection: “We are all engaged in the constitution of ourselves every minute of every day, through our relationships with others. Our task, then, is to uncover, new, hybridised forms of otherness that destabilise the individual of psychologisation (Goodley, 2011, p.81) (a view of the individual as a unitary-isolated cognitively-able-rational-developed-innately- normed-consensual being)” (Goodley, 2011, p. 78).
Otherness in disability discourse: “Impairment is viewed as a threat from which people want to distance themselves, thus establishing disabled people as outsiders or symbolic ‘others’. A hierarchy of devaluation is suggested, which varies with severity and type of disability or degree of departure from the standard human form” (Murphy et al.,1988 in Barnes et al., 2008).
Thus society disables... The Union of Physically Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS) states: “In our view it is society which disables physically impaired people. Disability is something imposed on top of our impairments by the way we are unnecessarily isolated and excluded from full participation in society. Disabled people are therefore an oppressed group in society” (UPIAS, 1976, p. 14).
... and oppresses the other... “Disabled people are viewed as ‘useless’ because they are deemed unable to contribute to the ‘economic good of the community’. This marks them out as ‘abnormal’ and ‘different’, or members of a ‘minority group’ in a similar position to other oppressed groups such as black or gay people” (Hunt, 1966 in Barnes et al., 2008, p. 77).
... through labelling and patronising attitudes... “Disabled people are set apart from the ordinary in ways which [‘normal’ people] see them as posing a direct ‘challenge’ to commonly held social values by appearing ‘unfortunate, useless, different, oppressed and sick’” (Hunt, 1966 in Barnes and Mercer, 2011, p. 28).
... without considering the hegemony of normalcy. “Disability provides the occasion for us to understand the hegemonic character of ordinary life, and to disrupt and question the taken-for-granted expectation that ordinary life is merely an ordinary matter” (Titchkosky, 2006, p. 23).
The hidden hegemony that oppresses the other - daily quotes: “This is how we normally do things around here.” “This is how people ought to do things.” “This is ‘just’ the way things are.” “We are not going to change the whole system for ‘just’ one person.” “We can’t create a ramp and an accessible rest room for ‘just’ one person. It costs money.” “We don’t provide the accessibility that you are requesting, sorry.”
Reflection on daily quotes: The concept of an ‘able’ body/mind assumes normative or universal criteria against which all bodies and minds are judged. Those unable or unwilling to meet these standards are deemed deviant or ‘other’ (Barnes & Mercer, 2011, p. 81).
This implies that society needs to rethink its values and social structures. To explore this hierarchy or difference, it is necessary to deconstruct, not simply analyse, notions of what is regarded as deviant and inferior and also what is deemed normal” (Barnes & Mercer, 2011, p. 92).
Otherwise society reinforces a capitalist dominance Gramsci exerted influence on the notion of ‘hegemony’ and “addressed the ways in which capitalist domination is achieved not only by coercion (oppression), but also by the generation of ‘willing consent’ of the subordinate population” (Barnes & Mercer, 2011, p. 187).
What is the role of Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE) institutions? “The production and consumption of culture, in such institutional arenas as education, the law and art and literature, can be crucial” (Barnes & Mercer, 2011, p. 187).
Video Description A person with cataracts, another with depression and anxiety, and another who is a wheelchair user shared their experiences of gaining support from the ‘Disability Services’ at university. They get support and access to reach their full learning potential. They expressed the importance of having tutors and the ‘Disability Services’ advisor helping them to cope with their personal and course demands. They recommend that students disclose impairment even if it is not visible as the people at university are there to support them and make life easier.
What is inclusion at FE and HE levels? ‘Inclusion’ means far more than just being in the same lecture room as everyone else: it means being able to take part fully in the life of the institution; joining the societies, enjoying the social life, and being treated with informed respect (Peter White in Adams and Brown, 2006).
Inclusive education implies a cultural shift to celebrate diversity For higher education institutions to implement inclusive education, they require a significant cultural shift, from seeing disabled students as ‘outsiders coming in’, to an institution which openly embraces ‘all comers’. The shift “will require institutions to view all disabled students and staff equally, and view difference as a positive contribution to the lifeblood of an institution, rather than as problems which need to be overcome” (John Tomlinson, 1996 in Adams and Brown, 2006, p. 4).
Stop and reflect As an educator do you cherish the value that every person has a function in society (functionalist approach) or that a person should produce in a fast, accurate and efficient way (capitalist approach)? What are the challenges? As an educator, are you conscious of practices of inclusion/exclusion of others at FE and HE institutions?
Stop and reflect Do you include from a rights-based or charity- based perspective? On a personal level and an institutional level, what are the effects of inclusion and exclusion that members within FE and HE institutions could be practising?
Stop and reflect: Are you conscious of the possibility of having students with educational needs? What could be done to reduce and possibly remove the environmental, social (attitudinal), and educational disabling barriers within FE and HE institutions?
Stop and reflect Are you conscious how to create proactive rather than reactive teaching/learning and assessment strategies to celebrate inclusion of (not for) others? To what extent are your teaching/learning and assessment strategies accessible in their mode of representation (the way content is presented), expression (how students can express what they know) and engagement (stimulation of interest and motivation)?
Recommendations derived from one research method – participant observation To explore the structural accessibility in local FE and HE institutions and practices with regard to inclusive education. In 2011, eight FE institutions in Malta and Gozo and the University of Malta participated in this research.
To help students with mobility impairments: Ramps should have a gradient which is not too high. There should be balustrades that prevent someone to fall from the sides in elevated areas. The balustrades should have two level wooden banisters, one suitable for standing people and the other for seated persons.
Stickers or signage guidelines including ones with the ‘Access symbol’ should be installed around the campus. Lecture rooms should be labelled by number and/or subject. The signage should be embossed and in Braille. There should be a parking lot for disabled persons near the campus main entrance.
The reception area should have a section where a person can communicate at a seated position. Outdoor pathways and corridors should be created wide enough that let wheelchair users and pedestrians to pass simultaneously. Lever door handles are easier to open rather than knobs.
Preferably sliding doors or sensor doors are installed. No doors should have door springs on the inside. Lifts should be free from any obstructions. They should be maintained regularly.
All public places or students’ areas should be made accessible such as foyer, canteen, library, auditorium, study areas, chapel, games rooms and outdoor grounds preferably without having wheelchair users to travel long distances before they reach these zones. Lecture rooms should not have platforms.
The MATSEC Board should ensure that accessibility is available for all students irrespective of the type of examinations that the students needs to sit for. Public transport facilities should be improved to ensure that students go to their respective colleges independently.
To aid students with visual impairment: Encourage lecturers to allow the recording of lectures or else provide alternative means of obtaining notes. Staircases should have a different colour or pattern between the tread and the riser. Preferably landings would be of a different colour tone or pattern as well.
Notice boards in corridors should be hung low and notices should be printed in large print. They should be placed in a well lit place or have light that can be switched on if needed. Unnecessary furniture is removed to keep foyer area and corridors free from furniture to prevent someone from tripping over.
There should be the installation of an intercom system to facilitate communication between who is at the main door and reception area. Danger zones should have barriers to prevent having students falling in ducts, elevated areas.
The ground near zebra crossings should have textured tiles. Specific public areas should have an auditory signal indicating the name of the place.
To aid students with hearing impairment: Check that all rubber tips on chairs are fixed. Put strips of wood on all walls and put up charts or corrugated card board. Affix two corkboards on the walls adjacent to the whiteboard wall. Hang thick curtains to cover windows and walls in between.
Put egg shaped foam under the tables and teacher's desk. Place felt or cork tiles next to the whiteboard. Check rubber seals on doors to ensure a tight closure. Windows could be double glazed.
Place a book case in a corner to absorb more sound waves. Lecture halls and the auditorium should be equipped with hearing loop or ‘induction loop’ systems which magnetically transmit sound to hearing aids and cochlear implants with telecoils (T-coils). The appropriate symbol should be affixed too.
For the welfare of all disabled people: The school prospectus should include a well developed section about inclusive education, highlighting the services that the school follows together with the principles of inclusive education that the school embraces. Security systems such as Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) systems are useful to prevent burglary, curb vandalism, spot physical bullying and people in need.
Lecturers should have a training phase how to access the curriculum for students with disability. This should be ongoing for new lecturers. There should be more standardisation in the provision of facilities and services. Each institution should have a department specialised in inclusive education that liaises with other institutions so that rather than working in competition with other schools, schools work in team work for the benefit of each student. This will provide a better transition experience for students.
The issue of provision of Learning Support Educators (LSEs) needs to be addressed. There should be more conformity in the provision and use of such service. School libraries should be furnished with different Assistive Technology to be used by students, lecturers and LSEs. E-books could be introduced as well.
The issue of disclosure of a student’s specific impairments to lecturers who teach that student should be addressed. There should be better communication from administration to inform lecturers about having disabled students in their group.
There should be a system of referral of students when students disclose information to lecturers but not to administrators. Lecturers should not be held responsible for not speaking up. Confidentiality systems and data protection are of prime importance.
As a general practice, students’ situations should not be referred to as ‘cases’ as this reflects more the medical/individual model of disability. FE and HE institutions should invest in smaller classrooms as it provides more time for individual attention.
FE and HE institutions need to organise courses to lecturers to create awareness how to make teaching, learning and assessing more inclusive for different disabilities. There should be public education to all stakeholders in schools and in the community about what self-advocacy is and how it can be implemented effectively within a social group.
If possible there should be an increment in the Supplementary Maintenance Grant that assists students financially to buy special equipment needed for their studies. Current practices of inclusive education should be evaluated with the participation of disabled youth attending such institutions.
Contact hours where students can ask lecturers about their academic problems should be available in all institutions. Distance learning needs to be developed further to make learning accessible for those who can’t attend lectures like the rest of the group.
There should be more direct communication between MATSEC Syllabus Boards and Examination Boards across all levels, namely SEC, Intermediate and Advanced. The MATSEC syllabi are too vast or the time to cover them is too short. This does not allow lecturers to pace the work.
Conclusion Disability should be addressed from a rights- based perspective. This would create consciousness on the notion of the ‘other’. There is a positive approach from administrators and FE and HE lecturers towards creating more inclusive and accessible FE and HE institutions.
Inclusive pedagogical and theoretical approaches would benefit all students and staff. There should be more funding allocated to FE and HE institutions to remove infrastructural, educational and social disabling barriers. Academic courses could be improved by implementing Universal Design for Learning principles that widen accessibility of information and assessment for a larger number of student population.
Reference: Adams, A. & Brown, S. (2006). Towards Inclusive Learning in Higher Education for disabled students. London (UK): Routledge. Barnes, C. & Mercer, G. (2011). Exploring disability. (2 nd ed.). Cambridge (UK): Polity. Barnes, C., Mercer, G. & Shakespeare, T. (2008). Exploring disability – a sociological introduction. Cambridge (UK): Polity Press. Goodley, D. (2011). Disability studies – an interdisciplinary introduction. London (UK): SAGE. Titchkosky, T. (2006). Disability, self, and society. London (UK): University of Toronto Press. Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation (1976). Fundamental principles of disability. Retrieved from disability- studies.leeds.ac.uk/.../UPIAS/fundamental%20principles.pdf accessed on 27/10/2013. Universal Design for Learning. Retrieved from http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/whatisudl on 3/4/2014 http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/whatisudl
Video clips: Disability awareness: http://ri.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=A2KLqIGY52RTT0wAnVD8w8Q F;_ylu=X3oDMTByZnJkbGl0BHNlYwNjZC10aHVtYgRzbGsDcGxh eQR2dGlkAw-- /RV=2/RE=1399150616/RO=10/RU=http%3a%2f%2fwww.youtub e.com%2fwatch%3fv%3dwzRQOfVvVh4/RK=0/RS=rHzX91e.I_iT 0D5v3SqGQCBG1_8- http://ri.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=A2KLqIGY52RTT0wAnVD8w8Q F;_ylu=X3oDMTByZnJkbGl0BHNlYwNjZC10aHVtYgRzbGsDcGxh eQR2dGlkAw-- /RV=2/RE=1399150616/RO=10/RU=http%3a%2f%2fwww.youtub e.com%2fwatch%3fv%3dwzRQOfVvVh4/RK=0/RS=rHzX91e.I_iT 0D5v3SqGQCBG1_8- Disability Services - University of South Australia: http://ri.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=A0LEVyPh52RTjUcAnIJXNyoA; _ylu=X3oDMTBsczhyOThwBHNlYwNjZC10aHVtYgRzbGsDcGxhe Q-- /RV=2/RE=1399150690/RO=10/RU=http%3a%2f%2fwww.youtub e.com%2fwatch%3fv%3dJTg- 4Hgcxvk/RK=0/RS=_7UeBEOjPrJ1l5o1U70J06ZcgcE-