College lecturers accused of not doing enough to include students with disabilities

Cliodhna Russell

Around 60% of disability staff believe that academics are not doing enough to include students with disabilities in their courses.

That’s according to a new report by the Association for Higher Education Access & Disability (AHEAD).

The disability staff made comments about lecturers in the report with one respondent saying that some lecturers didn’t want to know the basic information about students in their class with a disability:

We have been recently asked not to provide academics with so much information, though we only provide them with the student’s type of disability & the exam supports they are receiving. Lecturers felt it was an invasion of privacy.

“It is difficult to get some academic staff to take on board changes to the traditional way of teaching. New technology devices such as LiveScribe pens seems to cause the most concern as lecturers often do not like to be recorded in class.”

Another stated, “We still have difficulties with academics making their lecture notes available before class; some still do not provide them online even after the lecture.”

Decrease in deaf students 

The report also found a decrease in the number of deaf or hearing impaired students starting college. There was a 6% drop to 271 students last year.

Students who are deaf or have hearing impairments now make up just 2.8% of the total population of students with disabilities (down from 3.2% last year).

However the report outlined that the overall numbers of students with disabilities has increased 7% year on year.

There are now nearly 10,000 students with disabilities studying in higher education in Ireland.

Part Time vs Full Time 

However, while students with disabilities make up 5.4% of the full time student population - the rate studying part time is only 1.1%.

Graph


The report recommends allowing part-time students to access the same funding for supports granted to full-time students with disabilities.

Ann Heelan, Executive Director of AHEAD said, “For students with certain types of disabilities, for instance chronic fatigue syndrome, part time study is a much more preferable and manageable study path, but the current funding situation is preventing many students from taking up these options. Those that do go the part-time route may not get the support they need to perform.”

The report, Numbers of Students with Disabilities Studying in Higher Education in Ireland 2013/14, can be read in full here.

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