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Policy and Legal Framework 4.2


4.2 Identifying and Removing Barriers to Tertiary Education

"Some lecturers have a not-in-my-class mentality."

(Respondent, Code of Practice Consultation Survey, 2002)

Historically, we have focused on the medical needs of people with impairments. Evidence now suggests that this alone does not help overcome barriers to participation and achievement. If it did, people with impairments would not have low rates of education and low levels of employment.

The 2002 'Code of Practice Consultation Survey' was a guide for writing the Code of Practice.[22] The survey results indicated that while progress has been made in tertiary education, this has largely been due to the development of disability support services and those individual teaching staff who see the value of inclusive teaching practices and support for all students.

Respondents identified the following key areas that together create an inclusive environment:

  • Disability support services and staff - note-takers, reader/writers, interpreters.
  • Physical access modifications - automatic doors/openers, accessible toilets, lifts.
  • Staff awareness and development about disability issues.
  • Good general staff attitudes - open, easy to talk to, supportive when made aware.
  • General support services - health, counseling and career services.
  • Disability support strategies - mobility car parks, part-time study options, library services, specific equipment, flexible teaching methods, and course material in alternative formats.

The most common barriers to creating an inclusive tertiary education environment identified by respondents were:

  1. Inaccessibility of some parts of the campus for some students with impairments.
  2. Difficulties with provision of equipment - this included difficulty in finding out about financial support, inadequate and inconsistent resourcing of such support for students with particular impairments, not enough equipment, badly set up computers, incompatible equipment and the high cost of purchasing equipment.
  3. Staff issues:
    • Some staff do not see the benefits of inclusive teaching and do not alter their methods to accommodate students with impairments.
    • The behaviour and attitudes of some tertiary staff are inconsistent.
    • Lack of awareness and training on overcoming communication and language barriers.
    • Material presented in inaccessible formats.
    • Some staff are resentful of support offered to students with impairments.
    • Not enough support staff (e.g. note-takers, readers/writers, interpreters).

Given the survey size, these results may not accurately reflect all views in tertiary education. However, they do provide a sample of people who feel that a range of barriers to inclusion still exist for students with impairments in tertiary education.