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A survey of challenges, opportunities and threats faced by students with disabilities in the post-independent era in Zimbabwe
Compiled by
Chiparaushe Booker, Mapako Obert and Makarau Arthur of University of Zimbabwe Disability Resource Centre
For
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The Student Solidarity Trust (SST) extends its appreciation to its long time partner, Students and Academics International Support Fund (SAIH), for its support for this research project and many others. Our sincere gratitude is also extended to our research consultants Booker Chiparaushe, Obert Mapako and Arthur Makarau of the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) Disability Resource Centre (DRC). We also acknowledge the role played by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Higher & Tertiary Education in granting permission to carry out this study in all Universities, Teachers’ Colleges and Technical Colleges in Zimbabwe.
Cheerful thanks also go to SST staff and in particular Trevor Murai for his field monitoring of the research and editorial scrutiny. Lastly our special thanks go to all the respondents who participated freely in this study by completing questionnaires and taking part in interviews and focus group discussions.
This research was funded by SST. However the findings, interpretations and conclusions expressed in this report are entirely those of the author(s) and should not be attributed to SST , which does not guarantee their accuracy and can accept no responsibility for any consequences of their use.
ABSTRACT
This research was carried out with the main aim of bringing out the challenges, opportunities and threats faced by students with disabilities and conditions who are enrolled in institutions of higher education in Zimbabwe. The study covered three provinces namely Harare, Bulawayo and Midlands targeting all universities, both teachers’ and technical colleges in these respective provinces. To collect data the researchers used questionnaires, interview schedules and focus group discussions. The questionnaires targeted administrators, lecturers and students with disabilities and conditions while interviews and focus group discussions were aimed at capturing data from students with disabilities and conditions. The data collected was analyzed using (SPSS) method and the results were presented in form of tables and pie –charts. The population was composed of 103 students with disabilities and conditions, 9 administrators and 11 lecturers which make a total of 123 participants. The sample had 50 students with disabilities and conditions, 20 both administrators and lecturers making a total of 70 participants.
Main findings from the study
 Inaccessibility of buildings for example lecture theatres or rooms, halls of residence, toilets and tubs thereby disadvantaging greatly those students who are physically challenged;
 Shortage of equipment and materials for example Perkins Braille machines, Pac-Mates, Tape Recorders, brailed textbooks or reading materials for the visually impaired students;
 The majority of students with disabilities fall under the category of the visual impaired;
 Offices of Vice Chancellors, Pro-Vice Chancellors and Registrar in majority of state universities are not accessible to students in wheel chairs;
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 In all tertiary education institutions the majority if not all lecturers in post have no formal training in handling students with disabilities;
 In natural sciences and technical subjects there is lack and in some institutions un-availability of trained lecturers to teach students with disabilities;
 Most institutions of higher learning discourage and or marginalize students with disabilities who intend to pursue natural sciences;
 At A-level, of which the A-level qualification is used as entrance at universities, fewer disabled students who would have passed O-level choose sciences subjects. Additionally disabled students generally perform badly in sciences;
 Donations by well wishers and support by the international community to students with disabilities have dwindled in the past decade due to Zimbabwe’s sour relations with countries in the West;
 There is lack of programmes to sensitize able-bodied students and other college/university staff that is not directly involved with students with disabilities on the needs and plight of students with disabilities;
 In most tertiary education institutions there are no waiver of tuition fees, no special budgets and no affirmative action to aid students with disabilities;
 Study findings reveal that all institutions of higher learning are not mainstreaming HIV and AIDS issues in programmes for students with disabilities. There is lack of peer counseling, lack of HIV and AIDS promotional material available in a format accessible to various categories of students with disabilities;
 Visually impaired students faced mobility problems as information of changes in the environment like digging of trenches is not communicated to them, further cars parked in undesignated areas, obstacles such as chairs left on their paths, open doors in corridors present everyday challenges in their mobility hence the need for able-bodied students sensitization programmes;
 Visually impaired students also had challenges accessing communication pasted on notice boards in print;
 For students with Albinism their main concern was inability to read lecture notes on chalkboards during lectures and also failure to read notices on notice boards due to their short-sightedness. Also these students are not provided with their special skin lotions to protect them from sun burns. On sports the main findings were that there was the lack of specially trained instructors to cater for students with disabilities and conditions.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
CONTENT PAGE
Acknowledgements i
Abstract ii
Table of contents iii
List of tables iv
List of figures
CHAPTER ONE
THE PROBLEM AND ITS SETTING
1.0 Introduction 1
1.1 Background of the study
1.2 Statement of the problem
1.3 Justification of the study
1.4 Objectives of the study 3
1.5 Significance of the study 3
1.6.0 Research question 3
1.7.0 Definition of key terms
1.8.0 Delimitations of study 5
CHAPTER 2
2.0 Literature review
2.1 Introduction 6
2.1.1 What is Disability?
2.2. Mainstreaming disability
2.2.1 Legislation 6
2.2.1.1. United Nations Initiatives 6
2.2.1.2. Disabled Persons Act (DPA) of 1994 9
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2.2.1.5 Disability and Human Rights 9
2.2.1.6 College and University students with disabilities 10
2.2.1.6.1 Institutional Mission 10
2.2.1.6.2 Policy Issues 11
2.2.1.6.3 Disclosure of Disability 14
CHAPTER 3
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.0 Introduction 12
3.1 Research design
3.1.2 Disadvantages of the descriptive survey technique
3.2 Population
3.3 Sample 13
3.4. Instrumentation
3.5 Data collection procedure
3.6 Data analysis 18
3.7 Pilot study
3.8 Results of Pilot study 19
3.9 Summary
CHAPTER 4
DATA ANALYSIS, INTERPRETATION AND DISCUSSION
4.0 Introduction 20
4.1 Questionnaire Responses
4.2 Administrators’ Responses
4.3 Interviews
SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.0 Introduction 41
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5.1 Summary
5.2 Conclusion
5.3 Recommendations
REFERENCES 41
LIST OF TABLES
Table Page
4.1.1: Distribution of lecturers at State Universities according to subjects they teach students with disabilities 20
Table 4.1.2: Provision of Extra time for students with disabilities’ work by lecturers 23
Table 4.1.3: Prevalence rate of Trained Teachers 23
Table 4.2.1: Types of disabilities that the Universities are catering for 28
Table 4.2.2: Existence of Special Legislation in Institutions’ Charter 31
Table 4.2.3: Provision of Sports for students with disabilities 32
Table 4.2.4: Mainstreaming of students with disabilities in
HIV and AIDS, Peer Counseling Services 32
List of Figures
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Acronyms
AIDS Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome
AU Africa University
CRPD Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities
DRC Disability Resource Centre
DPA Disabled Persons Act
FGD Focus Group Discussions
GPA Global Political Agreement
HIV Human Immuno-Virus
ICT Information and Communication Technology
ILO International Labor Organizations
IYPD
MSU Midlands State University
NUST National University of Science and Technology
SPSS Statistical Package for Social Scientist
SST Student Solidarity Trust
UCE United College of Education
UDHR Universal Declaration of Human Rights
MDGs Millennium Development Goals
UN United Nations
UZ University of Zimbabwe
ZOU Zimbabwe Open University
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ABOUT SST
It was born out of the Zimbabwe National Students Union, as a strategic vehicle to deal with practical solidarity issues for the student’s movement. To date the SST has assisted well over 95 student activists with continuing their education after being expelled, and at least 1248 students who have found themselves in situations where they were being persecuted for participating in the struggle for the right to education and respect for student and academic rights. The first 15 student activists to complete their education through the assistance of the SST graduated in 2006, and where honored by the students movement at a ceremony dubbed the “Against All Odds Ceremony” on November 17 2006 in Bulawayo
SST PROGRAMS
1. Students Social Safety Net Program
The Students Social Safety Net (SSSN) is a solidarity program that the SST uses to cushion student activists and leaders from the effects of politically motivated Victimisation by way of suspensions and expulsions. It also aims to act as a capacity building tool for current and future leadership through education of those who have shown courage, and exceptional leadership as activists within the student’s movement, as such ensuring that the mechanics are in place for continuous churning out of leaders both for the student’s movement, civil society but also for the future. It also has a an essential component of the program, The Students Rapid Solidarity Support Program (SRSSP) which is an emergency mitigation tool that the SST intends to use as a cover in times of unforeseen crisis with regards to arrests, victimization and other abuses, within the students movement.
2. Research and Information Program
The Research and Information program seeks to abate the smooth flow of information on activities, violations and actions within the students movement and carry out research and policy analysis on issues pertaining the education sector. The program ensures the collection, packaging and dissemination of activities that are obtaining within the students’ movement, including human rights abuses which are manifested through suspensions, expulsions and arbitrary arrests, while also telling the world the humane stories from within the same sector. As function of this program, the SST also tries to ensure that there is a standing crop trained Human rights monitors and reporters in Zimbabwe’s institutions of higher learning, who are familiar with effective information packaging which insures that injustices are reported on and captured in a bid not only to flag the issues, but also to attempt remedial action and fight against impunity.
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3 Regional Solidarity Building and Networking
The Regional Solidarity Building (RSBN) Program is a networking initiative that is meant to sensitize primarily the SADC region on the situation in Zimbabwe especially with regards to students, and at the same time build relationships for the possibilities of people to people solidarity actions. The program entails establishing relationships with student’s movements, social movements and rights based organisations and watchdogs in the regions.
4 International Solidarity Building and Networking
The International Solidarity Building and Networking (ISBN), is a program that specifically aims to enhance the possibilities of having international solidarity for the students movement politically victimized students in Zimbabwe. It also specifically aims to internationalize the crisis in Zimbabwe as it regards students while ensuring international relationships that can be used to ease the burden of extremely victimized student leaders and activist, through offering international safety nets.
SST Governance
The SST has a 9 member board of trustees which oversees the running of the organisation. The board is made up of young but prominent Human Rights Defenders from different sectors of Zimbabwean Civil Society where they lead. It is renewed through perpetual succession.
SST Secretariat
The SST has a staff compliment of 8, which is led by a Programmes Coordinator and regularly takes aboard interns on attachment. The SST has a strong volunteer base through its fellows (students expelled from local universities now pursuing alternative education through the SST educational programme with UNISA and abroad), who from time to time volunteer at the organisation for different tasks.
Staff Complement
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Masimba Nyamanhindi: Programmes Coordinator, Simba Moyo: Programmes Manager, Marlene Mutsira: Finance and Administration Manager, Trevor Murai: Research and Information officer, Darlington Madzonga: Social Safety Net Officer, Masimba Kuchera: Programmes Officer (Research and Information), Rachel Matatare: Administrator, Goodman Mimise: Programmes Officer (Fellows Liaison and Resource Centre) and Levyniah Katshana: Intern (Gender and Information
CHAPTER ONE
A SURVEY OF CHALLENGES, OPPORTUNITIES AND THREATS FACED BY STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES IN THE POST-INDEPENDENCE ERA IN ZIMBABWE
INTRODUCTION
Zimbabwe witnessed a huge expansion in learning institutions that offer certificates, diplomas, degrees and other post-graduate qualifications to students, which also included students with disabilities. For instance, at Independence, Zimbabwe had one university but now, there are seven state universities, four church related universities and a women’s university that are fully internationally accredited. (http://www.zimembassy.se/health.html). In many of these institutions research on students with disabilities in higher education has shown that these students often face additional challenges and threats in their educational milieu. Paul (2000) note that students with disabilities face both physical and attitudinal barriers within their college or university environments. Rao (2004) states that, ‘attitudinal barriers’ are recognized widely as an impediment to success of people with disabilities. Unfortunately, this topic happens to be one of the least researched variables in studies done with faculties and students with disabilities in higher education (Fonosch and Schwab, 1981).
Furthermore, there are a few other studies undertaken since 1981 that studied this factor in relation to success of students with disabilities in higher education. Benham, 1995; Lewis, 1998; McCarthy and Campbell, 1993, 2002; Schoen, Uysal and McDonald, 1987; William, (2000) also expressed the same contention. The study seeks to examine and expose the challenges, opportunities and threats faced by students with disabilities and conditions in Zimbabwe.
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Education for students with disabilities in Zimbabwe has undergone a tremendous revolution since 1980. The inclusion of students with disabilities has not been taken seriously in Zimbabwe. For instance, The 1987 Education Act, that was amended more than six times now, is silent about the education of students with disabilities. However despite this lack of seriousness in Zimbabwe’s legislative system, students with disabilities have always struggled to access higher and tertiary education in Zimbabwe. Today some Teacher Training, Technical Colleges, and Agricultural Colleges such as Kushinga Phikelela, United College of Education and Bondolfi Teachers’ College, occasionally enroll students with disabilities. Additionally, some Zimbabwean Universities such as University of Zimbabwe (UZ), Africa University (AU) National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) and the Midlands State University (MSU), are currently enrolling students with disabilities. This study sought to gather information on challenges, threats and opportunities faced by students with disabilities at universities and colleges in Zimbabwe.
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STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Higher Education in Zimbabwe has undergone changes in response to modifications in the perceived needs of the society, legislative policies and social attitudes. Consequently, the student pool has changed considerably in higher educational institutions and now includes a significant number of students with disabilities seeking to complete their studies as colleges and universities increases across the country. The students with disabilities and conditions face a number of challenges, threats and opportunities which this study seeks to unveil.
JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY
No known research in Zimbabwe has managed to determine the challenges, opportunities and threats that are faced by students with disabilities in the tertiary or higher education sector in Zimbabwe. The study has exposed specific concerns about the challenges, opportunities and threats faced by students with disabilities in the higher education sector in Zimbabwe. The study provides valuable insights into ways of improving the learning environment and opportunities for students with disabilities in higher education in Zimbabwe.
1.4 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
1. To establish major challenges faced by students with disabilities and conditions in higher education institutions;
2. To explore the possible opportunities in higher education that are an advantage to the education of students with disabilities and conditions;
3. To expose the threats which students with disabilities experience in their studies in higher education institutions.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is aimed at highlighting the major problems which students with disabilities and conditions are encountering in pursuance of their higher education institutions in Zimbabwe. The research findings brought out clearly the challenges, opportunities and threats of each specific disability or condition under study.
The information gathered is vital to policy makers, stake holders, donors, service providers, and administrators, civil society organizations and the general public in the provision of intervention strategies to address the plight of students with disabilities and conditions. The study added new information and also opened new avenues for further research in the education of students with disabilities.
1.6.0 RESEARCH QUESTION
1.6.1 Main question:
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What are the challenges, opportunities and threats faced by students with disabilities in the higher educational institutions in Zimbabwe?
1.6.2 Sub questions:
1. What are the effects of stigmatization on people with disabilities and conditions?
2. What are the social challenges experienced by students with disabilities and conditions in Zimbabwe?
3. What are the policy issues in relation to the students with disabilities and conditions in tertiary education in Zimbabwe?
4. What literature surrounds the understanding, and provision of support services for students with disabilities in Zimbabwe?
1.7.0 DEFINITION OF KEY TERMS
1.7.1 Physical Impairment:
Include impairment of upper limb(s), lower limb(s) manual dexterity, and disability in coordination with different organs of the body. Often cause a person to use special equipment like a wheel chair, cane, or prosthetic limb. Persons with physical disabilities may have difficulties with movement or self care. (http://www.disabled-world.com/disability/types/)
1.7.2 Visual impairment:
This includes blindness and ocular trauma. Some of the visual impairment include scratched cornea, scratches on the sclera, diabetic-related eye conditions, dry eyes, and corneal graft (http://www.disabled-world.com/disability/types/).
1.7.3 Hearing Impairment:
This includes people who are completely or partially deaf. People who are partially deaf can often use hearing aids to assist their hearing. Deafness can be evident at birth, or later in life from several biological causes. For example Meningitis can damage the auditory nerve or cochlea. Deaf people use sign language as means of communication.
(http://www.barrierbreak.com/typesofdisabilities.php)
1.7.4 Albinism:
An inherited condition that is present at birth. It is characterized by lack of the usual amount of pigment melanin, which is the substance that gives colour to the skin, hair and eyes. Albinism always affects vision and may ultimately lead to skin cancer. The genes that cause albinism also cause abnormal developments of the nerve connections between the eyes and the brain. Most people with albinism are
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born to parents without the condition but both parents must carry a copy of the defective gene and both must pass on that copy to their child. (http://www.answers.com/topic/albinism).
1.7.5 Invisible/ health-related disability:
The Invisible/health related disability refers to any medical condition which includes sicknesses or diseases such as epilepsy, diabetes, cancer. Another invisible disability is psychiatric disability characterized by disorders of mood or feeling states either short or long term. This category includes conditions like bipolar disorder and depression among others. (http://www.disabled-world.com/disability/types/
1.7.6 DELIMITATIONS OF STUDY
The study focuses on challenges, opportunities and threats which students with disabilities and conditions experience in tertiary education institutions in Bulawayo, Gweru and Harare.
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CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 INTRODUCTION
This Chapter will review related literature on students with disabilities in higher education done by other researchers. Also the rights of people with disabilities will be discussed. The literature will be reviewed under the following subheadings: What is disability, mainstreaming disability through Legislation, policies, practices on making environments to accommodate people with disabilities.
2.1 What is Disability?
There is no universal agreed definition of disability. Historically disability was seen primarily as a medical condition, with the problem located within the individual. This medical or individual model was challenged by disability activists who re-conceptualized disability as primarily a social phenomenon. The social model of disability draws a clear distinction between impairments and disability. Society disables people with impairments by its failure to recognize and accommodate difference and through the attitudinal environmental and institutional barriers it erects towards people with impairments. Disability thus arises from a complex interaction between health conditions and the context in which they exist. Disability is a relative term with certain impairments becoming more or less disabling in different contexts.
2.2. United Nations Initiatives
Although the human rights charter promulgated in 1948 and its subsequent versions clearly indicated that its provisions are meant for all human beings the unique circumstances of persons with disabilities have in the last thirty years called for special focus.
A number of important UN instruments have been developed to reflect the growing understanding of the special circumstances. The first was the 1971 UN Declaration on the Rights of the Mentally Handicapped, which called for the recognition of people with mental disabilities as human beings. It calls upon the world community to consider them all the entitlements of other human beings. It specifies concerns unique to the mentally handicapped and gives guidelines on how to address them. The Declaration set pace for more activities at UN level in respect to other disabilities.
The 1975 UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities expanded the space for persons with disabilities must be accorded respects, opportunity for rehabilitation, education, employment, human dignity and enjoyment of life within a family set up.
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The Global awareness created during the UN IYDP in 1981 expanded social participation and equality for disabled persons. This was followed by the 1982 to 1992 UN Decade for Persons with Disabilities. To ensure the decade had the desired impact, a comprehensive document entitled Word Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons was developed and adopted through a UN resolution in 1982. The document provided guidelines on effective measures for the realization of full participation of persons with disabilities in social life, development and equality. UN agencies were encouraged to globally implement the document in accordance with their areas of specialization.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) formulated the first ever enforceable documents to its members. The Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) Convention of 1983 ensures that the appropriate vocational rehabilitation measures are made available to all categories of disabled persons. It also promotes the employment of disabled persons in the open labour markets.
The UN Standard Rules on Equalization on Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities stipulated twenty – two rules on the behaviour of states. The rules were divided into four categories. The first category included four rules, which addressed preconditions for equalization of opportunities. These include awareness raising, medical care and rehabilitation and support services. The second and most important covered rules are 12 on target areas of equalization of opportunities. These are accessibility, education, employment, income maintenance social security, family life and personal integrity, culture, religion, recreation and sports. The last 10 rules were on measures of implementation and mechanism for monitoring. The document was presented to the UN Assembly and adopted in December 1993. Seven years after adoption of the UN Standard Rules it became clear that goodwill was not enough to change the lives of persons with disabilities. More pressure through enforceable instruments was required to impact heavily on countries to provide a fovourable social environment. Efforts to increase cooperation, integration and awareness on disability issues by governments and relevant organizations remained insufficient in promoting full and reflective participation and equal opportunities for persons with disabilities in economic, social, cultural and political life. There was still need for a more comprehensive and binding instrument to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disability.
The United Nations International Convention on the Rights of people with Disabilities (CRPD) is therefore a product of five years of work by the United Nations Ad Hoc committee which included among others, member states and the disability organizations. The CRPD is guided by the following principles:
 Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices and independence of persons;
 Non – discrimination;
 Full and effective participation and inclusion in society;
 Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human dignity and humanity;
 Equality of opportunity;
 Accessibility;
 Equality between men and women and
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 Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.
Countries that fall under the Convention commit themselves to develop and carry out policies, laws and administrative measures for securing the rights recognized in the convention and abolish laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination (Article 4).
On the fundamental issue of accessibility (Article 9), the convention requires countries to identify and eliminate obstacles and barriers, and ensure that persons with disabilities can access their environment, transportation and public services.
Personal mobility and the greatest possible independence are to be fostered by facility affordable personal mobility, training in mobility skills and access to mobility aids, device assistive technologies and live assistance (Article 20)
States are to ensure equal access to education, vocational training, adult education and lifelong learning. Education is to employ the appropriate materials, educational technologies and forms of communication. Pupils with sport needs are to receive support measures and pupils who are blind, deaf and dump are to receive their education in the most appropriate modes of communication from teachers who are qualified in sign language and Braille Education of persons with disabilities must foster their participation in society their sense of dignity and self worth and the development of their potential, personality, creativity and ability (Article 24).
Disability is not specifically mentioned in the Millennium Developmental Goals (MDGs), but persons with disabilities are implicitly included.
2. Disabled Persons Act DPA (Chapter 17:01) of 1992
Disabled people in Zimbabwe are protected by the DPA of 1992 which prohibits “discrimination against disabled in relation to opportunities.
The Amended Constitution of Zimbabwe 2005 Section 23 also provides against discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, gender or physical disability.
2.2.1.3 Disability and Human Rights
Human rights and fundamental freedoms are the birth rights of all. This is stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and finds specific application in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other International instruments. States have affirmed this principle again and again, including in the Copenhagen Declaration acknowledging that the promotion and protection of these rights and freedoms is primarily the responsibility of governments.
The right to development is an inalienable human right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute and enjoy economic, social and cultural and political development in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized. Because all human rights are sacrosanct and none is superior to another while development facilities the enjoyment of all human rights, the lack of development may not be invoked to justify the abridgement of
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international cooperation in the eradication of poverty and promotion of development is apparent. The principle of international cooperation has been recognized in the international covenants as affirmed in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons.
2.2.1.4 College and University students with learning disabilities
2.2.1.5 Institutional Mission
Institutions have established learner outcomes for all programs. While students with learning disabilities should be expected to meet the institution’s academic standards they should be given the opportunity to fulfill learner outcomes in alternative ways. The process by which students with learning disabilities demonstrate mastery of academic standards may vary from that of the larger student body, but the outcomes can and should remain the same. Accommodating students with learning disabilities need not to jeopardize the academic standards of the institution.
It is highly recommended that provision of services for students with disabilities, including those for students with learning disabilities be housed within the administrative structure that promotes a strong academic focus and shared faculty responsibility for providing accommodation. For some campuses that office reports directly to the Vice-Chancellor or principal, for others disability issues may be under the preview of the academic or student affairs offices.
2.2.1.6 Policy Issues
It is essential to have written policies that ensure that students with learning disabilities receive the same high quality education as their peers. These policies should address the issues of admission, documentation of a learning disability, accommodations and curriculum modification. It is important that students be made aware of the existence of an appeal process which is set forth in writing; students should have easy access to all written policies and procedures including appeal process. Such documents should be available in a variety of formats, in appropriate campus literature and through available technology, such as a Web Site, which all students can access.
2.2.1.7 Disclosure of Disability
Disclosure of hidden disabilities such as learning disabilities, psychiatric disabilities or HIV and AIDS, pose unique implications for students with disabilities (Lynch and Gussel 1996) often involving labels which carry significant stereotypes and societal stigmatizations.
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CHAPTER 3
3.0 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.1 Introduction
This survey was carried out to investigate the challenges, opportunities and threats that are faced by students with disabilities in Zimbabwean colleges and Universities. The main focus of this chapter is to give a description of how the research was carried out. The research design, research instruments used, data collection procedures, data presentation and analysis plans, are described below.
3.2 Research design
This study employed the descriptive research design. According to McNabb (2010), Descriptive research design is a scientific method which involves observing and describing the behaviour of a subject without influencing it in anyway. The main goal of this type of research is to describe the data and characteristics about what is being studied. The idea behind this type of research is to study frequencies, averages, and other statistical calculations. The research involved the collection of data using face to face interviews, questionnaires and observations. This design was chosen because the research question is social in nature. Consequently, the researcher had the advantage of profiling and examining associative relationships among community members of different colleges and universities. Descriptive survey allows different researchers to observe a similar phenomenon yet still come up with different findings. Thus descriptive survey scrutinizes the actual situation in a chosen setting.
3.2.1 Disadvantages of the descriptive survey technique
Descriptive survey has its own shortfalls. For instance, there are no variables manipulated, and consequently, there is no way to statistically analyze the results. According to Gilbert (1993), many scientists regard this type of study as very unreliable and ‘unscientific’. In addition, McNabb (2010) argues that the results of observational studies are not repeatable, and so there can be no replication of the experiment and reviewing of the results. Kelly, Clark, Brown and Sitzia (2003) report that the significance of the data can become neglected if the researcher focuses too much on the range of coverage to the exclusion of an adequate account of the implications of data for relevant issues, problems, or theories. Consequently, the data that is produced is likely to lack details or depth on the topic being investigated. Furthermore, Browling (2002) advance that securing a high response rate to a survey can be hard to control, particularly when it is carried out by post, but is also difficult when the survey is carried out face-to-face or over the telephone. For instance, in this study, the anticipated
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cooperation from the respondents was difficult since some of the students with disabilities were busy with their own researches and other course work demands.
3.3 Population
The population comprised 103 students with disabilities and conditions, 11 lecturers and 9 administrators making a total of 123.
3.4 Sample
Since the population of students with disabilities is significantly small, stage sampling or whole population sampling was used on students with disabilities who took part in the study. Convenience sampling was also employed to select lecturers and administrators who participated in this study. Lastly, purposive sampling was used to select the Deans of Students who took part in the study. The sample comprised of 9 administrators, 11 lecturers and 50 students with disabilities and conditions.
3.5 Instrumentation
The researchers used a structured questionnaire, interview schedules and observations to collect data. In order to avert bias, respondents were not assisted as they completed the questionnaire.
3.5.1 Questionnaire
A questionnaire is a form of structured interview. The researcher used a questionnaire to collect data because of its anonymity which gives the respondents the latitude to give responses without prejudice. As a mechanism for obtaining information and opinion, questionnaires have a number of advantages and disadvantages when compared with other evaluation tools (Best and Kahn, 1983).
3.5.2 Advantages of questionnaires
Questionnaires are very cost effective when compared to face –to-face interviews. Questionnaires are also easy to analyze. Data entry and tabulation for nearly all surveys can be easily done with many computer software packages. Bell (1993) upholds that questionnaires are less intrusive than telephone or face-to-face surveys. The questionnaire as an instrument does not interrupt the respondent since the respondent is free to complete the questionnaire on his own time-table. Cohen and Manion (1989) accentuate that a questionnaire requires less skill to administer and can address a large number of issues and questions of concern in a relatively efficient way with the possibility of a high response rate. Additionally, each respondent receives the identical set of questions. With closed-form questions, responses are standardized, which can assist in interpreting from large numbers of respondents
3.5.3 Disadvantages of Questionnaires
Questionnaires have been known to suffer from misinterpretation by the respondents. Some scholars argue that questionnaires are complex instruments and, if badly designed, can be misleading. They are an unsuitable way of evaluating if probing is required-there is usually no real possibility for follow-up on answers. Bell (1993) also exhorts that questionnaires have pre-arranged questions which are more rigid because terms are not explained. Furthermore, Moser and Kalton (1979) believe that respondents can lie if they wish to because they are likely to remain anonymous. Thus, quality of data is probably not as
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high as with alternative methods of data collection, such as personal interviewing. Questionnaires like many evaluation methods occur after the event, so participants may forget important issues. Additionally, Gilbert (1993) notes that respondents may answer questions superficially especially if the questionnaire takes long time to complete. Hence the common mistake of asking too many questions should be avoided. To guard against the accusation that the study’s findings are simply an artifact of a single method, a single source, or a single investigator’s biases, the researcher in this study had to triangulate the questionnaire responses with the responses from interviews and observations that were conducted.
3.5.4 Overcoming Questionnaire weaknesses
The researcher used a questionnaire with predominantly fixed or closed choice questions which gave specific answers. Closed questions are easier to analyze and answers can be compared more easily. They are also likely to have a higher response rate and less missing data. To avert the problem of questionnaire being misinterpreted, the questionnaire questions were phrased using simple and straight forward terms which did not give room for ambiguity. The researcher tried to avoid using double-barreled questions so as to minimize ambiguity. Some scaled questions were also included since they are good for sensitive topics and also easy to analyze.
3.5.5 Interviews
Interviews are the oral equivalent of questionnaires. Hogle and Sweat (1996:187) argue that, ‘‘Capturing what people say in their own words is the most important contribution of qualitative research to understanding human behaviour’’. Interviews helped to capture some of the information that had not been captured by the questionnaire. However, like any other method of collecting data, the interview method has its own advantages and disadvantages.
3.5.5.1 Advantages of interview
The advantages of using interviews is that the researcher (interviewer) can adapt the questions as necessary, clarify doubt and ensure that the responses are properly understood by repeating or rephrasing the questions (Moser and Kalton, 1979). Another advantage of using face-to-face interviews lies in the quality of the data obtained. Un-ambiguity is reduced through probing and a better rate of return of the interviews is achieved when compared to the average 30-40% rate of return in posed questionnaires. Bell (1993) articulates that interviews can yield rich material and can often put flesh on the bones of questionnaire responses. This implies that when conducting interviews, one can seek further clarification on some of the questionnaire responses through probing. In this particular study researchers were able to develop the interview responses and got some clarifications through probing. Each interviewee’s tone voice and facial expression helped to provide information that could not be revealed by the questionnaire. Using the face-to-face interview, the researchers were able to establish rapport with the respondents. Another advantage of using face-to-face interview as propounded by Gilbert (1993) is that they can be conducted in the respondent’s home or workplace or in locations such as shopping malls or even simply on the streets. For this study, the researchers were free to interview the interviewees, anywhere at their respective institution, including during the times when students were taking their lecture breaks.
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3.5.5.2 Overcoming interview weaknesses
Although it has been noted that using the interview technique has a number of disadvantages, face –to-face interviews can be very expensive, time-consuming since travel is usually involved. Fortunately transport was availed to visit all the targeted institutions. The problem concerning the coding and scoring of open-ended questions was overcome by using pre-coded interview schedules.
3.6 Data collection procedure
Permission to carry out the research was sought from the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education and was granted. Permission to carry out the study was also sought from the respective Universities and College administrators and was granted. Permission was also sought from all the seventy-four respondents. The researchers collected data from the 4th of October 2010 to the 5th of November 2010 using a self administered questionnaire, face-to-face interviews and focus group discussions.
3.6.1 Questionnaire
A self administered questionnaire with 62 questions was used. The researchers hand delivered the questionnaires personally to 54 students with disabilities. To avert the problem of questionnaire being misinterpreted, the questionnaire questions were phrased using simple and straight forward terms which did not give room for ambiguity. The researchers tried to avoid using double-barreled questions so as to minimize ambiguity.
3.6.2 Interview
All the 54 respondents were interviewed. Face-to- face interview technique was employed in all instances. Vague replies were probed further using non-directive questioning. All the interview responses were recorded.
3.6.3 Focus Groups
A Focus Group Discussion (FGD) is a group discussion of approximately 6 - 12 persons guided by a facilitator, during which group members talk freely and spontaneously about a certain topic. (http://www.idrc.ca/en/ev-56615-201-1-DO_TOPIC.html). Focus Group discussions were held using a focus group guide with groups of students who had similar disabilities forming a single group.
3.6.4 Advantages of focus group discussions
Focus groups are quick, cheap and relatively easy to assemble. They are good for obtaining rich data in participants' own words and developing deeper insights. Additionally, people are able to build on one another's responses and come up with ideas they might not have thought of in a one-on-one interview. Focus groups also provide an opportunity to involve people in data analysis (For instance, "Out of the issues we have talked about, which ones are most important to you?"). Most importantly, in focus groups, participants can act as checks and balances on one another - identifying factual errors or extreme views (http://www.webcredible.co.uk/user-friendly-resources/web-usability/focus-groups.shtml).
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3.6.5 Disadvantages of focus groups
Focus groups also have disadvantages: The researcher has less control over a group than a one-on-one interview, and thus time can be lost on issues irrelevant to the topic; the data is difficult to analyze because the talking is in reaction to the comments of other group members; observers/ moderators need to be highly trained, and groups are quite variable and can be tough to get together (Marshall and Rossman (1999). Moreover, the number of members of a focus group is not large enough to be a representative sample of a population; thus, the data obtained from the groups is not necessarily representative of the whole population, unlike the data of opinion polls.
Focus groups are "One shot case studies" especially if they are measuring a property-disposition relationship within the social sciences, unless they are repeated (Lindlof & Taylor 2002). Focus groups can create severe issues of external validity, especially the reactive effects of the testing arrangement (Campbell and Stanley, 2005). A fundamental difficulty with focus groups (and other forms of qualitative research) is the issue of observer dependency: the results obtained are influenced by the researcher, raising questions of validity. The issue evokes associations with Heisenberg’s famous Uncertainty Principle. As Heisenberg said, "What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning." Indeed, the design of the focus group study (e.g. respondent selection, the questions asked, how they are phrased, how they are posed, in what setting, by whom, and so on) affects the answers obtained from respondents. In focus groups, researchers (and the moderators and observers of the focus group, if the researcher is not there) are not detached observers but always participants.
Another issue is with the setting itself. If the focus groups are held in a laboratory setting with a moderator who is a professor and the recording instrument is obtrusive, the participants may either hold back on their responses and/or try to answer the moderator's questions with answers the participants feel that the moderator wants to hear. Another issue with the focus group setting is the lack of anonymity. With all of the other participants, there can not be any guarantee of confidentiality. Again we have to deal with the issues of the reactive effects of the testing arrangement. Rushkoff (2005) argues that focus groups are often useless, and frequently cause more trouble than they are intended to solve, with focus groups often aiming to please rather than offering their own opinions or evaluations, and with data often cherry picked to support a foregone conclusion. In addition there is anecdotal evidence of focus groups rebelling.
3.7 Data analysis
Descriptive statistics such as frequency tables and pie charts will be used to analyze data. Data from questionnaire and interview schedules shall first be coded and related information grouped together.
3.7.1 Organizing Data
Data from questionnaire and interview schedules shall first be coded and related information grouped together.
3.7.2 Analysis
23
According to Hinkle, Wiersma & Jurs (2003) and MacDonald (1982), one of the traditional and simplest procedures for organizing and summarizing the data for a meaningful representation is in a simple or ungrouped frequency table. Weiss (2004:44) put that by ‘suitably organizing data, we can often make a large and complicated batch of data more compact, easier to work with and understand. The researcher shall use frequency tables to analyze the responses from the questionnaire. Frequency tables are very easy to construct and as noted by Bell (1993), they are a fast way of indicating a variable. According to L’Esperance (1971: 24), data grouped in a simple frequency table allow the investigator to ‘determine very quickly where most of the items are concentrated’ and as observed by Hamburg (1989:9), ‘if a frequency distribution of individual figures is formed, many features of ungrouped data become readily discernible’. Montcalm & Royse (2002) registered frequency tables as one of at least 4 ways in which data can be summarized. The other three being: narration, graphs, and cross-tabulation tables. On their part, Hopkins, Glass, and Hopkins (1987) and Minium (1978) argued that statistical information could be more easily understood, comprehended and interpreted more accurately if it is organized into tables and displayed in graphs. Hence, in this study, data shall be organized into tables and also displayed in graphs. The last advantage of a simple frequency distribution, according to Raymondo, (1999:50), is that ‘we are able to achieve all of this convenience without any loss of precision’.
3.8 Pilot study
Pilot studies are used as feasibility studies, to ensure that the ideas or methods behind a research idea are sound, as well as to “work out the kinks” in a study protocol before launching a larger study (Stachowiak, 2008). A pilot study to eliminate some of the questions that may have been irrelevant to the study was carried out on twenty randomly chosen students with disabilities at the University of Zimbabwe. The pilot study was carried out from the 25th to the 30th of September 2010 and results of the study were noted.
3.9 RESULTS OF PILOT STUDY
A number of questions on the initial questionnaire made were altered. For instance, under demographic data, question number 1, initially had answers which included an age range of less than 15 years. This age range was later completely left out because it was realized that one can hardly get any student in higher and tertiary institutions of learning whose age will be less that 15 years. Section A which initially had 45 questions ended up having 38 questions. Similarly, section B had 30 questions which were downsized to only 24.
3.10 SUMMARY
This chapter has outlined a detailed explanation of the methods used in this study. The next chapter presents the results obtained with those methods. The next Chapter also, analyses and discusses the results of this study.
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4.0 DATA ANALYSIS, INTERPRETATION AND DISCUSSION
4.1 Introduction
In this chapter the findings of the challenges, threats and opportunities faced by students with disabilities at Tertiary Institutions of learning are presented. Quantitative data obtained from close ended questionnaires is analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS version 17.0), while content analysis is used for qualitative data. Quantitative data is presented in the form of tables and graphs.
The analysis and presentation of data is done in three stages starting with responses from Lecturers, followed by Administrators and lastly but not least Students.
Table 4.1.1: Distribution of lecturers at State Universities according to subjects they teach students with disabilities
Subject
Frequency
Percentage (%)
Arts
3
50.0
Social Sciences
4
40.0
Natural Sciences
0
0.0
Commerce
1
10.0
Medicine and Veterinary Sciences
0
0.0
Total
10
100.0
An analysis of the above table reveals that the majority of students with disabilities are enrolled in the Social Sciences department. No students were enrolled in programmes such as natural sciences, Medicine and Veterinary Sciences. Probably, this was due to lack of orientation to different faculties that they could be enrolled in, prior to their registration in the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences where they seemed to be dominant. Equally possible, could be that the students with disabilities lacked fine motor dexterity in handling objects of different structures. For instance, in Medicine, students are expected to perform a lot of practical work with military precision. Similarly, programmes such as Electrical Engineering, may pose a threat to their physical well-being. Hence, the trend of avoiding such programmes which seem to be risky and opting for safer ones such as those found in the Arts and Social Sciences which basically need anyone who can debate. There was also the possibility that there existed lack of skilled personnel to teach students with disabilities in such areas as evidenced by the lecturers’
25
failure to understand, read and write in Braille. Data from the above table also indicate that, very few students with disabilities were enrolled in commercials (10%). Another implication of the results could be that students with disabilities are being marginalized in pursuing natural sciences by the universities’ admissions offices. It was noted from the discussion with UCE Special Education group of students that, students with disabilities, particularly those with visual impairment, lacked mathematical and science Braille knowledge. If such subjects were not taught at that level, then, it meant that students with visual impairment were not benefitting; hence the high percentage of Arts and Social studies students at universities and colleges.
Fig 4.1.1 Nature of disability according to lecturers
Figure 4.1.2 is indicates that the majority of the students with impairments are blind (70%), physical (60%) and partially sighted (50%). According to the lecturers, very few students with disabilities had conditions (20%) such as albinism, mental disorders etcetera, while none of the students were hard of hearing.
Fig 4.1.2 Catering for students with disabilities needs by lecturers during preparation and delivery of lectures
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
Blind
Partially sighted
Hearing
Physical
Condition
% of Lectuters
Nature of Disability of Students
26
Findings shown in the graph above indicate that the majority of the lecturers in State Universities cater for students with disabilities when they plan and deliver their lectures. Only 20% revealed that they would treat students with disabilities as equal to other students.
On the question whether lecturers do to take care of the needs of students with disabilities, it came out that they will do so as far as they could. There are things that lecturers could do and some that will be beyond them. For instance reserving front and comfortable seats for these students the lecturers would definitely do. They would also ensure that recording equipment is functional and close to electrical sockets. Additionally they would ensure students with disabilities or conditions have handouts and other materials prepared especially for them during the delivery of lectures. The lecturers would also talk at the top of their voices and provide room for deliberation during the lecture to meet the students’ needs. All the above efforts by lecturers acted as opportunities created for students with disabilities so that they would gain from university learning. This would in turn put them at the same footing with the able-bodied students, in spite of the above positive contributions by the concerned lecturers; equipment of poor quality is a challenge that had been caused by the Zimbabwean economic melt down experienced between 2000 and 2008.
However there are other issues that could not attend to during delivery of lectures. Lecturers were concerned with the quality of the equipment as some of equipment was not functioning properly. Some lecture rooms had no functional electrical sockets for power supply for equipment such as recorders and laptops. The persistent electricity power supply cuts witnessed through out the country also impacted negatively in the delivery of lectures to students with disabilities. The other important source of equipment for students with disabilities over the years besides the government has been well wishers and international donors. Zimbabwe’s sour relations with the Western countries have seen a marked decrease in donations to university departments that cater for the needs of students with disabilities from donors in the West. Donations from countries in the East have been insignificant. Zimbabwe’s relations with the countries in the West are set to improve in the context of the inclusive government, but however they are everyday threats posed by resistance and reluctance by partners in the inclusive
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
Yes
No
% of Lectuters
Response
27
government to fully implement the terms of the Global Political Agreement in letter and spirit. Recommendation are in face of the unstable relations between the West and the Harare government, donations from Western agencies and countries be channeled through non-governmental organizations.
Table 4.1.2 Provision of Extra time for students with disabilities’ work by lecturers
Response
Frequency
Percentage
(%)
Yes
6
60.0
No
3
30.0
NA
1
10.0
Total
10
100.0
An analysis of the table 4.1.2 above reveal that 60% of lecturers investigated gave special treatment to blind students by giving them extra time for assignments, projects, tests and examinations. This can mean most lecturers cater for the needs of the visually impaired. This could be sensitivity exercised by lecturers to create success opportunities for the blind. However this could undermine the set University standards. After completion of the course, the blind student used to time extensions may need extensions or more time even at work which in turn could undermine production at that company or organization.
Table 4.1.3: Prevalence rate of Trained Lecturers
Response
Frequency
Percentage
(%)
Yes
2
20.0
No
8
80.0
Total
10
100.0
Table 4.1.3 above shows lack of qualified lecturers with specialist training to handle students with disabilities or conditions, as only 20% of the sample indicated that they were trained as compared to the (80%) that was not trained. The paradox then was how were the lecturers to maximally assist those students with disabilities if they were under-equipped with skills to educate them?
Fig 4.1.3 Rating of Standard projects of students with disabilities
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Data from the figure 4.1.3 shows that students with disabilities are equally committed to college demands since all the lecturers (100%) who participated in the study acknowledged that the students with disabilities produced standard projects.
All the lecturers felt academically there was no difference in terms of performance between able-bodied students and the students with disabilities. The impression generated is that all students with disabilities are academically competent in spite of their respective disabilities. Hence the old adage disability does not mean inability is confirmed.
Fig 4.1.4 Comparison of performance of able-bodied students and students with disabilities according to lecturers
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
Yes
No
% of Lecturers
Response
29
The analysis of figure 4.1.4 reveals that lecturers were of the feeling that students with disabilities projects and assignments were average (30%) to above average (70%).
Fig 4.1.5 Adequacy of Support Services given to students with disabilities
Findings revealed that the majority of the lecturers (80%) were of the idea that provision of learning materials was not enough for student with disabilities. However, 20% indicated that learning materials were enough to cater for the needs of these students with disabilities.
This response shows the ignorance of the lecturers concerning the existing support services offered to students with disabilities. Even among those that said the provision of support services was not enough a further probing during interviews indicated that they were not fully aware of the study aids and other equipment a student in each category of disability will require. An interesting observation is that among
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
Above average
Average
Below average
Poor
% of lecturers
Response
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
% of Lecturers
Response
No
Yes
30
those that said the support services are not enough they are some who also considered social and cultural needs of these students such as sporting and recreational needs. Among those that said the learning materials were enough they based their assumptions on the current economic situation and on the fact that learning is taking place anywhere with the current available resources.
Fig 4.1.6 Rating of students with disabilities according to their participation in class
Figure 4.1.6 shows that most students with disabilities fairly (60%) participate in lectures, while 20% perceived them as good and the other 20% as poor.
Fig 4.1.7 Rating of students with disabilities according to their participation in class
An analysis of figure 4.1.7 can mean that all lecturers who took part in this study do not give special treatment to students with disabilities when marking examinations or assignment. The students are treated like any other students. By demonstrating the above, the lectures portrayed that they were professionals who should not be neither sympathetic nor develop negative attitudes towards students with disabilities. This could suggest that the lectures had been given enough induction on how to handle students with disabilities since being sympathetic is a vice that could curtail their psychological and educational well-being
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
Good
Fair
Poor
% of Lecturers
Response
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
Sympathy
Positive
Negative
% of Lecturers
Response
31
Fig 4.1.8 Feedback on assignments for students with disabilities
The figure above shows half of the lecturers (50%) indicating that the students understudy receive feedback on whatever they do at the same time as other students. However 39% of the lecturers tended to differ, while the remainder 20% did not indicate their views. From the above data, since 50% of the lecturers confirmed that they give feedback to students with disabilities at the same time as the other students, the implications maybe that braillists and transcribers of the work of students with visual impairment seemed to be doing a great job since they had to transcribe the students’ assignments in time for the lectures to make them in time. But it could also mean that the feedback given in time was only for other students who had no visual challenges, that is to say those who use print when presenting their work. In this case the 39% felt that feedback for student with disabilities came late.
Those who indicated No felt that students with disabilities hand in their assignments later than the able- bodied students and hence receive feedback much later. This may also imply that the brailists and transcribers were failing to cope with their workload which then let the students with visual impairment not to submit work in time or it could be that due to lack of brailled textbooks for those students to use, they had a challenge of accessing textbooks which they had to use to write their assignments.
Any additional comments
It was the lecturers’ view that students with disabilities need enhanced support and administrative efficiency in examinations. Examination papers should be delivered in time and handwriting should be done during lessons. Lecture theatres should be conducive to connection to electrical sockets.
Students with disabilities should have confidence in themselves and transcribers need to shape letters for easy reading. University must avail material to lecturers.
4.2.0 Administrators’ Responses
Fig 4.2.9 Availability of services offered to students with disabilities
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
Yes
No
NA
% of Lecturers
Response
32
An analysis if figure 4.2.9 above reveal that the universities are catering for students with disabilities and conditions. Contrary to the lecturers and students with disabilities’ responses, the university administration claimed that services for students with disabilities were readily available. This may imply that the administrators were not properly monitoring and evaluating the services offered to students with disabilities.
Table 4.2.5 Types of disabilities that the Universities are catering for
n=4
Disability Type
Frequency
Percentage (%)
Visual
2
50.0
Hearing
1
25.0
Physical
4
100.0
Albinism
1
25.0
Other
1
25.0
Table 4.2.5 above indicates that universities are catering for types of disabilities, although those who are physically challenged are most prevalent from the administrators’ point of view.
Special facilities in place to cater for students with disabilities
Universities have modules and examinations in Braille and special examination conditions as facilities in place to cater for students with disabilities. In addition most students with disabilities find their learning materials recorded on compact discs and audio cassettes. Students with disabilities have the privilege of communicating with administrators, even registrars without any problems. The Disability Resource Centre (DRC) at UZ is available to students with disabilities although it is incapacitated in terms of resources and facilities as the existing ones are aging.
Most of the reference books in Braille at DRC are gathering dust as they have become irrelevant. The few shared computers are old models and are very and most of the time they will be down. The floor tiles are peeling off and the ablution facilities need attention to function normally.
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
Yes
No
% of Lecturers
Response
33
Fig 4.2.10 Prevalence rate of members of staff trained to cater for students with disabilities
Analysis of the above figure is indicates that amongst the administrators the majority of them (75%) are trained to handle students with disabilities and conditions. Only a few (25%) have not been trained.
This may imply that the collages are very much committed to improving the welfare of students with disabilities. However, from the researchers’ experiences, most administrators do not avail themselves on special events and occasions involving students with disabilities such as the commemorations of the International Day of the disabled or the famous Danhiko Paralympic Games where students from these institutions normally go to compete in sports. This makes one question their commitment in providing services to students with disabilities. It is recommended that institutions and non-governmental organizations put in place programmes at learning institutions to sensitize both students and staff of special needs of students with disabilities.
According to the administrators very few programmes are in place to sensitize other students and staff of the special needs of students with disabilities. At the University of Zimbabwe there are induction courses in sign language and special education training conducted to students’ with disabilities helpers during orientation, while Midlands State University has none. Not much is done to fellow able -bodied students and staff except those who work directly with the students.
Fig 4.2.11 Accessibility of buildings at Institutions
75%
25%
Yes
No
34
An analysis of the figure 4.2.11 above reveals that state institutions of higher learning were designed with students with disabilities in mind as all the administrators (100%) consented to the fact that they were easily accessible to students with disabilities. However the researchers observed that offices of the Vice Chancellor, Pro- Vice Chancellor and other administrators at universities such as the University of Zimbabwe and National University of Science and Technology (NUST), were not accessible to students who used wheelchairs.
Fig 4.2.12 Existence of Affirmative action and Waiver of policies on students with disabilities
Findings from the above figure mean that some State universities are not using affirmative action when they admit students with disabilities. Fifty percent of the administrators indicated they do, while an equal number felt otherwise no such policies were in place. Most of the administrators (75%) indicated that there is no waiver of special conditions to accommodate students with disabilities to be admitted into certain courses.
Fig.4.2.13 Granting of privileges and existence of Special Budgets for students with disabilities
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
Yes
No
% of Lecturers
Response
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
Yes
No
% of administrators
Affirmative action
Waiver
35
Figure 4.2.13 above indicates that some universities are granting privileges such as provision of accommodation to students with disabilities. Waiver of tuition fees is not provided for and these students rely on government sponsorship. The majority of the administrators (75%) revealed the non-existent of a special budget to cater for the purchase of assistive devices for use by students with disabilities is impacting negatively students with disabilities.
Table 4.2.6 Existence of Special Legislation in Institutions’ Charter
Response
Frequency
Percentage
(%)
Yes
1
25.0
No
3
75.0
Total
4
100.0
The majority of the administrators (75%) revealed the non-existence of any special legislation in their charters or constitutions of state institutions that address the issues of the students with disabilities.
Table 4.2.7 Provision of Sports for students with disabilities
Response
Frequency
Percentage
(%)
Yes
3
75.0
No
1
25.0
Total
4
100.0
An analysis of table 4.2.7 above shows that most (75%) State institutions provide sports for students with disabilities, while very few Institutions (25%) could be failing to avail sporting activities for students with disabilities. The reason for failing to provide sporting activities is lack of trained coaches to coach
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
Yes
No
% of administrators
Other privileges
Special budget
36
students with disabilities and lack of equipment. Equipment for most institutions has been supplied through donations from the corporate world and international community. The past decade characterized by economic and political chaos resulted in reduced support for students with disabilities.
Table 4.2.8 Mainstreaming of students with disabilities in HIV and AIDS, Peer Counseling Services
Response
Frequency
Percentage
(%)
No
4
100.0
Yes
0
0.0
Total
4
100.0
Study findings reveal that all institutions of higher learning are not mainstreaming HIV and AIDS issues in programmes for students with disabilities. There is lack of peer counseling, lack of HIV and AIDS awareness material available in a format accessible to various categories of students with disabilities.
Other Comments
In all Institutions the majority if not all lecturers in post have no formal training in handling students with disabilities. This gives rise to negative attitudes towards enrolment of students with disabilities.
4.1.0 INTERVIEWS
4.1.1 VISUALLY IMPAIRED CATEGORY
4.1.1.1 Inclusive Education
Regarding whether there should be inclusive education, the fifteen students with visual impairment agreed that inclusive education is the best practice as it offers the following:
 Reduce discrimination;
 Able bodied will have a better understanding of students with disabilities;
 They are able to share information which they have limited access to;
 Helpers are needed for smooth integration;
 However two of the students noted exclusivity can bring over dependence of the visually impaired impacting negatively in the live of student with visual impairment.
4.1.1.2. Attitudes of institutions office bearers.
Asked if they felt welcomed at their institutions all the participants agreed that yes to a certain extent they were welcome. However some negative attitudes displayed by lecturers, administrators were a course of concern.
4.1.1.2. Access to information
Nine totally blind students expressed their limited access to information and the partially sighted expressed concerns which are
37
 Non – availability of large print copies of notices, books in Braille and large print and
 Lack of knowledge on using the computer and internet
4.1.1.3 Mobility in the institution’s environment
The totally blind students faced problem of construction work (trenches dug up everywhere, parked cars, water puddles etc. However the partially sighted said at least they could navigate their environments, however face difficulties in new paths.
4.1.1.3 Notices
All the students agreed that they felt left out by the way institutions’ communication system. Notices were written and pasted on notice boards of departments, faculties’ administration offices in print. No effort is made to inform students with visual important what is on the notices. This at times affected the students to miss on changed times of programmes courses.
4.1.1.4 Technology
Of the fifteen visual impaired students only five were computer literate. The four could use a PacMate Machine. Also four other of the students used a slate aid the rest Perkins Braille Machine. The participants attributed to low intake of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) due to:
 Difficulties accessing screen reader software;
 Lack of appropriate software;
 Lack of trained staff to teach the students;
 Negative attitude towards technology by some students with disabilities.
4.1.1.5 Suggestions to improve the welfare and academic support of students with disabilities on technology
Set up a revolving fund. The institutions buy a full set of equipment needed such as laptops / computers loaded with screen reader such as Jaws software Programme
 Have trained manpower in ICT’s
 Adhere to set ICT standards of institution such as that one has to have a qualification is ICTs
 Government / Institutions fund projects for students with disabilities.
4.1.1.6 Sports for People with Visual Impairment
All the students with visual impairment expressed lack of adequate sporting facilities, equipment and trained manpower. Games were limited to athletics, goal ball, soccer and chess.
4.1.2 Physically Challenged
4.1.2.1 Accessibility
Ten students were interviewed. They all expressed lack of access to building and terrain. Students expressed concern of accessibility of lecture room and hostels. Some on crutches or wheelchairs have
38
been allocated rooms or have lectures in upper floors. Toilets are not suitable to the physically challenged and they find it difficult to use them. Also laboratories lack rails to aid the physically challenged.
4.1.2.2 Lack of consideration of their Disability
All the students agreed that their disability is not considered. They are made to stand in queues. Also at times the able bodied show hostility when they try to jump queues.
4.1.2.3 Sports
All the students expressed lack of full participation in sports, due to:
 The disabled cannot constitute a team at institutions on games such as wheelchair basket ball;
 Even where the physically train with able-bodied, they are left out when its competition;
 Lack of equipment such as wheelchair races, wheelchair tennis and
 Lack of trained staff.
4.2.3 Students with other Conditions
4.2.3.1 Lack of consideration of students with sight problems
Five students were interviewed, they all expressed that they were not being considered as persons with eye-sight problems. It was noted that:
 Lecturers did not place them in front;
 Chalkboard work was not being dictated to them;
 Notices were not put in large bold print.
4.2.3.2 Welfare of students with Albinism
The students noted that they encountered the following problems:
 Lack of creams, which they cannot afford to buy for themselves;
 Usually taken as ‘normal’ when they cannot stand traveling in the sun;
 Need for campus accommodation to reduce exposure to the sun and night blindness.
4.2.4. Trainee Teachers in Special Education
A group of forty five students were interviewed in break up of fifteen per group. The students highlighted the following issues
 The curricula they have lack sports training for people with disabilities;
 Lack of incentives to join the course due to regulations such as half payment for the period one is training which is a year and four months;
 One of the lecturers living with HIV said that HIV and AIDS must be considered as a disability;
 Teaching of HIV and AIDS across the curriculum is lacking.
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CHAPTER 5
5.0 Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations.
5.1 Introduction
This study unearthed a number of challenges, threats and opportunities that are being faced by students with disabilities in the various tertiary institutions and Universities in Zimbabwe. The study revealed that very few students with disabilities were enrolled in commercial and natural science programmes. The study also noted that there were no students with hard of hearing who had been enrolled in any of the institutions that were visited by the researchers. Data analysis indicated that most lecturers lacked special training in handling students with disabilities. However, participation of students with disabilities in class was rated fair by lecturers who took part in this study. The analysis of the study showed that students with disabilities received no special treatment as far as marking of their assignments and examinations were concerned. One of the major challenges, unearthed by this study is that universities could be or might not be granting other privileges such as waiver of fees and provision of accommodation to students with disabilities besides Government sponsorship. Of the universities and colleges visited, only the UZ offers free accommodation, food and exemption of tuition fees to students with disabilities. Additionally, the majority of the administrators admitted that, currently there is no policy which mandates them to grant students with disabilities such privileges.
Most of the institutions under study provide sporting facilities to students with disabilities, yet, there are no qualified sports instructors for them to develop their sports talents. While all the administrators who took part in this study indicated that the buildings at their institutions were accessible to students with disabilities, the interview results from the students who took part in this study as well as the observations made, showed that the physical infrastructure of most institutions visited, particularly most of the lecture rooms and administrators’ offices, were not user-friendly to wheel-chair users and the physically challenged who used crutches. Results of the findings reflected that only the category of the students with visual impairment enjoys extra examination time of up to 60%, while, those who had other forms of disabilities were not given any extra time. Additionally, interview responses revealed that there is no stipulated policy on the official time that should be given to students with disabilities during examination time. The quality of educational equipment used by students with disabilities was found to be absolute while learning materials were found to be inadequate.
5.4 RECOMMENDATIONS
The study recommends that: The authorities of the institutions of higher learning should ensure that written college and university policy statements regarding services for students with disabilities are consistent with the mission of the institution; Institutions of higher learning should make notices and statements in alternative formats for students with disabilities; The institutions should also consider housing the office for disability services in academic affairs or a similar administrative office for effective reporting and support;
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Institutions should ensure confidentiality of student information to avoid stigmatization; They should develop written policies and procedures, including the appeal processes, regarding students with disabilities in the areas of admission, documentation academic accommodations and curriculum adjustments; Institutions must make policies and procedures available to the entire campus community via student hand books catalogues and schedules in alternative formats to the disabled; There should be establishment of mechanisms for dissemination of information about learning disabilities to students, administration, faculty and service professionals; Institutions must disseminate information to the campus community about available services; There should be familiarization of faculty, staff, administration and students with laws governing accommodations for students with disabilities; Institutions of higher learning should build campus expertise through collaboration and consultation; The institutions should also establish a team of service providers and faculty members for decision making in regards to admission, documentation, academic adjustments and program accommodations for students with disabilities; Institutions should remain abreast with current disability issues and provide cost effective reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities.
In this way the institutions will ensure that the education of students with disabilities becomes a campus wide responsibility.
There is need for carrying out further researches on a wider scale so as to address the identified challenges, threats and opportunities. In doing a further research, there could more challenges, threats, and opportunities that could be discovered which may not have been identified in this research.
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Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs
          Wiley Online Library : Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs
        
      
      Architectures of oppression: Perceptions of individuals with Asperger's syndrome in the Republic of ArmeniaTuesday, October 04, 2016 9:30 PMThis paper presents a phenomenographic analysis of perceptions of individuals with Asperger's syndrome in the Republic of Armenia. The primary objective was to apply and develop existing theory in a unique national context and across a broader respondent group than in previous studies. As such, the research compares and contrasts the views expressed by individuals with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEN/D), the parents of individuals with SEN/D and lay members of the public. Social comparison models developed by Hedley and Young (2006), Huws and Jones (2015) and Locke (2014) are utilised as lenses through which to analyse the conceptions, attitudes and beliefs of each respondent group. The particular social, cultural and political history of Armenia offers an insight into the challenges of, and opportunities for, autism research in the former Soviet Union.Comparison of the effects of mainstream and special school on National Curriculum outcomes in children with autism spectrum disorder: an archive-based analysisThursday, September 29, 2016 9:11 PMThe literature dealing with the inclusion of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in mainstream schools has increased over recent years, propelled by the argument that it will improve the quality of life, educational performance and social development of ‘included’ children. This area of research is currently an important one for the development of policy and practice. The literature on inclusion dealing with the inclusion of children with ASD is limited, so the implementation of inclusion has preceded research. The current study investigated whether children in mainstream placements show enhanced performance, relative to those in specialist provisions. The study used a combination of primary and secondary data analysis to explore the impact of inclusion on children with ASD in four authorities in the south east of England. The results suggest that mainstream children have no greater academic success than children in specialist provision. The study suggests that a number of specific provisions are involved in promoting success, such as Speech and Language Therapy, and the impact of Learning Support Assistants, and these are also reviewed and discussed.Factors that explain placement decisions for students with multiple disabilities: findings from national dataThursday, April 28, 2016 12:11 AMThe Special Education Elementary Longitudinal Study data set was utilised to examine the potential influences on placement decisions for students with multiple disabilities in the US. The sample consisted of 415 students. Specifically, the study investigated whether factors including students' prior special education experiences, parental involvement, parental expectations and educational risk factors explain the placement of students in classrooms. Results indicate significant relations between the explanatory variables and the hours spent daily in general education classrooms. However, only two variables, parents' education and receipt of early childhood special education services, were significantly associated with the dichotomised outcome of whether or not a child received any academic instruction in a general education classroom. Research limitations and implications for future research, policy and practice in the international context are discussed.Preparing preschool teacher candidates for inclusion: impact of two special education courses on their perspectivesFriday, July 03, 2015 7:41 PMSuccessful implementation of inclusive practices depends mainly on teachers' attitudes towards children with special needs and their inclusion, and teachers' willingness to work with children with special needs in their classrooms. Experiences teacher candidates have during pre-service stage might influence their perceptions towards children with disabilities and their inclusion. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of two special education courses on (1) preschool teacher candidates' general attitudes towards inclusion, (2) their willingness to work with children with significant intellectual, physical and behavioural disabilities within inclusive classroom settings and (3) their level of comfort in interacting with children with disabilities. A four-part survey was administered to participants four times throughout the study, once before and after each course. The survey package included (1) a demographic information form, (2) the Opinions Relative to the Inclusion of Students with Disabilities Scale, (3) an adapted version of the Teachers' Willingness to Work with Children with Severe Disabilities Scale and (4) the Interaction with Children with a Disability Scale. The results showed that both special education courses positively influenced teacher candidates' attitudes, willingness and comfort levels. However, impact of the second course focused on helping teacher candidates learn and apply instructional strategies to work with children with disabilities in inclusive classrooms was much larger. Implications of the study findings in relation to future research and practice are discussed.Researching with Children Theory and Practice by M. O'Reilly, P. Ronzoni, and N. Dora Sage Publications Ltd, London, 2013, 295pp Price £21.59 ISN: 978-1-4462-0848-9Sunday, May 31, 2015 5:55 PMExploring British Pakistani mothers’ perception of their child with disability: insights from a UK contextTuesday, March 24, 2015 9:38 PMThis research lends insight into disabling discourses on South Asian families of children with disabilities. It explores immigrant Pakistani maternal understanding of their children's disability, uniquely through an educational perspective, highlighting maternal roles which schools must acknowledge to improve outcomes for children. The findings of this research, supported by a literature review, highlight various ideological threads shaping maternal understanding of disability and their children's schooling experiences. Data were collected through multiple case studies of immigrant Pakistani mothers of disabled children at Westchester School, incorporating semi-structured interviews and reviewing pupils’ school files. After a process of open coding, the main themes emerging from interviews suggested maternal perceptions of disability evolved from a medicalised lens, onto identifying with structural barriers to children's progress, and a gendered lens. Both maternal perceptions and their professional interactions determined maternal accounts of their children's schooling experiences. This research highlights positive familial factors shaping maternal understanding of disability, supporting further studies into maternal advocacy and empowerment within UK special education.Evaluating the readiness of special education doctoral students to apply the standards of evidence-based practice to single-case researchSunday, March 08, 2015 9:33 PMHow well doctoral students in special education are prepared to evaluate research as evidence-based practice (EBP) is likely to impact their careers, as well as the teachers they will train. In developing a method for evaluating the readiness of small cohort groups of doctoral students to apply a research-based model of EBP, an instrument and procedure were refined in a pilot evaluation and implemented within a multiple baseline design across participants. Participants’ independent and instrument-guided performance in rating published research was compared to the ratings of two experts in single-case research design, yielding proportions of agreement across evaluation conditions. Results indicated group readiness to independently conduct the EBP evaluation and individual differences in readiness indicating the need for remediation.Evidence for the effectiveness of visual supports in helping children with disabilities access the mainstream primary school curriculumThursday, March 05, 2015 7:12 PMRemoving barriers to learning for children with mild to moderate disabilities in mainstream primary classrooms calls for creative approaches that exploit the cognitive and sensory strengths of each child. Although their efficacy has not been fully explored, pictorial, symbolic and written supports are often used with the intention of helping children access the curriculum by reducing anxiety, confusion and memory limitations both at school and at home. This paper reports a qualitative study carried out in New Zealand, which designed, delivered and evaluated a coordinated home and school visual supports programme for 23 children with moderate special education needs aged between 5 years and 7 months and 11 years and 10 months. Interview and questionnaire feedback from parents, teachers and the children themselves suggests the visual supports reduced anxiety and frustration, provided structured reminders of tasks and equipment needed, and permitted greater involvement in home and classroom routines. They also suggested a positive impact on distractibility, task completion, classroom independence and perseverance. It is suggested that while the visual supports were helpful, the attention to the child's needs across contexts contributed importantly to the success of the programme. Directions for further research are outlined.Systematic academic instruction for students with EBD: the construction and use of a tool for teachersSunday, February 22, 2015 11:36 PMEducating students with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties requires a thorough systematic approach with the focus on academic instruction. This study addresses the development of a tool, consisting of two questionnaires, for measuring systematic academic instruction. The questionnaires cover the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle and academic versus behavioural instruction. The questionnaires are both practically oriented as well as theoretically well founded. The reliability turned out to be acceptable (0.76) to high (0.89). Observation scales were developed to determine the validity of both questionnaires. Moderate correlations between questionnaires and observation scales were found (0.31, 0.32). Bland–Altman plots offered us valuable information about the differences between questionnaires and observation scales, supplying us with important issues for further research. It is concluded that the questionnaires might be a valuable tool for assessing teachers' systematic academic instruction.Using ‘voice’ to understand what college students with intellectual disabilities say about the teaching and learning processWednesday, January 28, 2015 7:39 PMThere is a growing awareness of the value of using pupils’ voices in educational research. At primary and second level, the principle of pupil voice has gained in profile over the last decade. However, in higher education, the use of voice in research collaborations remains under-theorised and under-utilised. This paper reports on an inclusive phenomenographic study undertaken with college students with intellectual disabilities (ID). It outlines how pupil voice can be used to gain a deeper understanding of the teaching and learning process. The strategies that promoted learner engagement and autonomy include establishing a supportive learning climate or environment, and promoting self-regulated learning strategies. These findings suggest that the use of pupil voice is fundamental to changing the way teachers think about students with ID and their learning.Eliciting web site preferences of people with learning disabilitiesWednesday, January 21, 2015 11:11 PMThe Internet can be an excellent tool to help people with learning disabilities access relevant and appropriately written information. However, little work has been undertaken to ascertain web design or content preferences for this cohort. This paper examines methods to address this issue. Twenty five participants were presented with three web sites dealing with employment information. They were asked to browse each and carry out a series of set-tasks. Interviews and a rating scale ascertained preferences. The problem of acquiescence bias, the tendency for people to automatically agree with those in perceived positions of authority, was minimised by the avoidance of ‘polar interrogatives’ (questions requiring a ‘yes/no’ or similarly polarised answer).
Participants liked the use of pictures, especially when they featured other young people with learning disabilities. Abstract content related to money or benefits often went unnoticed. Audio was appreciated where offered, although not extensively used. Preferences regarding text size and menu position were also established. Results are compared to other relevant literature and recommendations formulated to help web developers and information providers. The methodological issues inherent in this study were the use of the rating system, and the interview technique. The former was adapted following early findings that the neutral position, on a three point scale, was confusing. Using four points avoided this problem and produced more varied results. Avoiding polar interrogatives greatly helped in minimising ‘acquiescence bias’. The study concludes that it is possible to elicit considerable information from people who find it difficult to articulate their views.Experiences of paraprofessionals in US preschool special education and general education classroomsTuesday, December 23, 2014 4:40 PMA substantial challenge confronting public education systems across the world is the employment and retention of high-quality paraprofessionals (also known as teaching assistants and educational assistants). The current study expands upon previous research by employing a mixed methods design to examine the relationship between paraprofessionals' perceptions of their responsibilities and the corresponding satisfaction and issues relating to their job in the USA. Analytic induction through the generation of themes was used to analyse the qualitative data and revealed that paraprofessionals perceive or demonstrate issues relating to three primary domains: confusion of responsibilities in different contexts, relational power dynamics between paraprofessionals and teachers, and satisfaction based on both monetary compensation and recognition. In addition to the qualitative findings, researchers designed the paraprofessional perception survey, a quantitative survey measuring the concept of paraprofessional perceptions relating to their job. Results from the survey analysis revealed similar findings across domains. Additional results, practice implications and directions for future research are discussed.Educating students with FASD: linking policy, research and practiceWednesday, November 19, 2014 2:57 PMFetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is a prevalent neurodevelopmental disability with significant implications for learning and behaviour. International research suggests that the prevalence of FASD in school-aged children is 2.3–6.3%. In this paper, we address the questions: (1) what is FASD; (2) what is the prevalence of FASD in schools; (3) what is the impact of FASD; and (4) why develop special FASD education strategies and programmes? We summarise the 18-year history of Winnipeg School Division's development of its FASD Programme of services, describe the specialised FASD classrooms and then present the results from a consensus-generating workshop comprised of 36 FASD education professionals, with over 209 years of collective FASD education programme experience, who were asked to identify and reach consensus on best strategies and lessons learned in FASD education programmes. We then suggest that effectively educating children with FASD is critical to get right if positive educational outcomes are to be realised.Issue InformationMonday, October 10, 2016 5:06 PMComparison of most-to-least to error correction for teaching receptive labelling for two children diagnosed with autismTuesday, April 22, 2014 8:16 PMPrompting systems are guidelines of when to provide learners with prompts and when to fade prompts. Today, there are several prompting systems implemented to teach receptive labeling to individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities. This study compared most-to-least prompting to an error correction procedure involving feedback and remedial trials for teaching two children with autism a variety of receptive labels. All teaching was implemented in a one-to-one instructional setting. Researchers taught each participant how to receptively identify 18 pictures; nine were taught using error correction and nine were taught using most-to-least. The researchers utilized an adapted alternating treatment design nested into a multiple probe design to evaluate the two procedures. Results indicated that participants were able to reach mastery criterion on 100% of skills taught using the error correction and were able to reach mastery criterion on 88.9% of skills taught using most-to-least. Additionally, error correction tended to require fewer trials for participants to reach mastery criterion.Supporting students with Tourette syndrome in secondary school: a survey of staff viewsSunday, September 14, 2014 8:05 PMTourette syndrome is a neurological condition involving involuntary movements and sounds (tics) and is thought to affect as many as 1% of school-aged children. Some young people with Tourette syndrome experience educational difficulties and social difficulties. Current clinical guidelines suggest educators can play an important role in maximising learning potential and reducing the negative impact of this condition on students' social adjustment. Secondary school staff (N = 63) with responsibilities for special educational needs or disabilities completed a survey about support strategies for students with Tourette syndrome. Participants were first asked to suggest potentially helpful strategies and then rated how easily 17 recommended strategies could be implemented in school. The survey participants suggested a range of support strategies that were categorised as (1) promoting knowledge and understanding in school, (2) helping the student to cope with his/her tics, (3) supporting the student's learning and (4) providing social and emotional support. All the recommended support strategies were rated as being easy to implement (or already in place) by the majority of respondents (e.g., increasing staff awareness and regular communication with home). The strategies that were identified as being least easy to implement were those requiring extra staff input (support from teaching assistants and individual/small group working). Additional challenges to providing support were also identified by the participants (e.g., getting input from outside agencies).From special tasks to extensive roles: the changing face of special needs teachers in Finnish vocational further educationSunday, September 14, 2014 8:05 PMFollowing the development of inclusive education in vocational education and training (VET), the discussion about the prevention of marginalisation and dropouts has increased. At the same time, the formal education system has strengthened the position of support services, such as special educational needs (SEN) teachers, social workers and counsellors. However, a confusion of roles in the work of SEN teachers seems evident. The changing work of SEN teachers has not been of great research interest in Finland. The focus has been mainly on SEN teachers at the secondary school level (Kivirauma and Kuorelahti, 2002; Ström, 1999). The work of vocational SEN teachers has been studied by Kaikkonen, 2010 and Hirvonen, 2006. SEN teachers comprise two groups in the field: one group supports vocational subjects and the other group supports general subjects. The aim of this study is to determine how SEN teachers of general subjects define the objectives of their work and how they organise pedagogical support. Ten SEN teachers in vocational colleges were interviewed. A qualitative analysis was performed. The main findings showed, on the one hand, an autonomous position and, on the other, a work model that can be described as a ‘traditional special needs education model’. However, the findings showed that the autonomous role was contradictory. SEN teachers did not emphasise the connection with the VET community or college-based guidelines and directions. Moreover, although the consultative role exists, the findings showed that it is not a regular part of the work of SEN teachers.The case for frequency sensitivity in orthographic learningSunday, September 14, 2014 8:06 PMThis paper positions the importance of frequency sensitivity in the development of orthographic knowledge throughout childhood and promotes learning to spell as a vehicle which may be used effectively to develop this sensitivity. It is suggested that orthographic knowledge is advanced via a process of ‘frequency sensitivity’ to ‘patterns and sequences’ and ‘rules and regularities’ particular to English orthography and that the process of sensitivity to these coarse grain orthographic patterns is influenced by consistency in sound and by morphological knowledge (knowledge of morphemes; words or word parts that form the smallest unit of meaning in language). A model highlighting the increasing importance of orthography and morphology as reading and spelling development progresses is presented. Discussion of the importance of considering phonology, orthography and morphology throughout literacy development and the relative importance of each is discussed. Distinctions are drawn between the processes involved in children who are good readers and good spellers, children who are good readers and poor spellers, and children who are poor readers and poor spellers. This paper outlines how considering these interrelated and developmentally sensitive contributors to literacy development can contribute to the practice of educational professionals in promoting the development of literacy skills throughout childhood.Mapping the educational experiences of children with pathological demand avoidanceSunday, January 11, 2015 7:45 PM‘Pathological demand avoidance’ (PDA) describes a pattern of difficulties increasingly recognised as forming part of the autistic spectrum. Although clinical reports suggest that children with PDA are likely to experience considerable difficulties in education, their educational experiences have not yet been explored in any systematic way. In the current study, 42 parents of children with PDA completed a questionnaire about their child's educational experiences. Parents' responses indicated that this group of children displays high levels of problem behaviours in school, and receives corresponding high levels of special educational need support and professional involvement. Despite this support, the group had experienced high rates of exclusion and placement breakdown, with only 48% now in mainstream education. Parents reported relatively high satisfaction in their children's educational placements, with success defined by parents in terms of child outcomes, school characteristics and PDA-specific factors. Findings are discussed with reference to what is known about the educational experiences of children with more typical autism spectrum conditions and in terms of the implications for the inclusion of this group of children with complex needs.Understanding teachers' perspectives of factors that influence parental involvement practices in special education in BarbadosTuesday, November 04, 2014 9:54 PMParental involvement has been defined in various ways by researchers and is reported to have many advantages for children's education. The research utilises a case study strategy to investigate teachers' perspectives of parental involvement at four case sites in Barbados. In-depth interviews were done with teachers and analysis utilised content analysis of transcripts and open and axial coding frameworks. Findings suggest that one needs to understand the layered realities that dictate and influence the nature and level of parental participation in children's education. In-school factors such as a lack of democratisation of parent consultation processes, discontinuation of programmes, how active Parent Teacher Associations were and out-of-school factors such as parents' levels of collaboration and coping influenced parental involvement at the case sites. More research is needed to understand how these factors shape and influence parental involvement in special education settings in Barbados.Autism and intuitive practice as the art of the prevailing middleTuesday, November 04, 2014 9:54 PMJordan insists that teachers should be free to exercise their professionalism and that respect for difference is integral to that professionalism. For Connor, this implies teachers who can critically consider the discourses available to them as practitioners. The authors draw upon the philosophising of Gilles Deleuze to develop an account of teaching and learning as an autonomous creative process in which teachers contribute to rather than strictly control outcomes. This account of teaching as processual following resonates with Jordan's vision of equity for autistic or neuro-atypical pupils and compassionate professionalism. It rests less easily with intensive behaviourist-training programmes and educational cultures premised on the assumption that outcomes can, and should, be pre-determined and precisely engineered. From a Deleuzian perspective, ethical practice is the interplay of conceptual, perceptual and affective knowledge, and it is suggested that intuitive practice involves a similar interplay along with numerous contextual considerations. A Deleuzian theory of simulation is initially outlined and accords with the emphasis placed by Jordan on reimagining an educational system in which all pupils are valued and supported to develop their varied talents and teachers are free to assess the suitability of particular methods for individual pupils.Exploring the impact of the design of the physical classroom environment on young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)Wednesday, November 19, 2014 2:57 PMIn 2010, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported a 1600% increase in the number of individuals between the ages of 6 and 22 years with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Knowledge about educational interventions for children with ASD is substantial; however, less is known about the design of supportive classroom environments where they learn. ASD experts believe that the early years in school, namely preschool through 6th grade, are critical in reaching children and establishing a foundation for their life-long learning and general well-being. In context of the human ecosystem theory that models the interaction between people and the natural, social and designed environments, this literature review of refereed sources (2000–2012) documented findings about interventions, that is, design criteria (DC) for incorporation into the physical classroom environment used by children with ASD. The majority of the studies was exploratory and presented DC that subsequently were not tested. Due to research method and/or sampling design, efficacy, reliability and validity of findings varied. Limited research (19 articles, 1 conference proceeding) addressing classroom DC leaves designers, teachers and school administrators substantially reliant on anecdotal information in terms of creating optimal learning environments to support inclusion of children with ASD. Additional research is needed to examine this critical design/human behaviour relationship via identification of evidence-based DC to guide classroom design solutions that support learning by children with ASD.
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IDENTIFICATION OF SPECIFIC LEARNING DISABILITIES
(See also Procedural Safeguards: Surrogates, Notice, and Consent)

The reauthorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was signed into law on Dec. 3, 2004, by President George W. Bush. The provisions of the act became effective on July 1, 2005, with the exception of some of the elements pertaining to the definition of a “highly qualified teacher” that took effect upon the signing of the act. The final regulations were published on Aug. 14, 2006. This is one in a series of documents, prepared by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) in the U.S. Department of Education that covers a variety of high-interest topics and brings together the regulatory requirements related to those topics to support constituents in preparing to implement the new regulations.1 This document addresses significant changes from preexisting regulations to the final regulatory requirements regarding the identification of specific learning disabilities.

IDEA Regulations

1. Add procedures for identifying children with specific learning disabilities.

A State must adopt, consistent with 34 CFR 300.309, criteria for determining whether a child has a specific learning disability as defined in 34 CFR 300.8(c)(10). In addition, the criteria adopted by the State:
Must not require the use of a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and achievement for determining whether a child has a specific learning disability, as defined in 34 CFR 300.8(c)(10);
Must permit the use of a process based on the child’s response to scientific, research-based intervention; and
May permit the use of other alternative research-based procedures for determining whether a child has a specific learning disability, as defined in 34 CFR 300.8(c)(10).
A public agency must use the State criteria adopted pursuant to 34 CFR 300.307(a) in determining whether a child has a specific learning disability.
[34 CFR 300.307] [20 U.S.C. 1221e-3; 1401(30); 1414(b)(6)]

2. Require additional group members.

The determination of whether a child suspected of having a specific learning disability is a child with a disability as defined in 34 CFR 300.8, must be made by the child’s parents and a team of qualified professionals, which must include:
The child’s regular teacher; or if the child does not have a regular teacher, a regular classroom teacher qualified to teach a child of his or her age; or for a child of less than school age, an individual qualified by the State educational agency (SEA) to teach a child of his or her age; and
At least one person qualified to conduct individual diagnostic examinations of children, such as a school psychologist, speech-language pathologist, or remedial reading teacher.
[34 CFR 300.308] [20 U.S.C. 1221e-3; 1401(30); 1414(b)(6)]

3. Add criteria for determining the existence of a specific learning disability.

The group described in 34 CFR 300.306 may determine that a child has a specific learning disability, as defined in 34 CFR 300.8(c)(10), if:
The child does not achieve adequately for the child’s age or to meet State-approved grade-level standards in one or more of the following areas, when provided with learning experiences and instruction appropriate for the child’s age or State-approved grade–level standards:
Oral expression.
Listening comprehension.
Written expression.
Basic reading skills.
Reading fluency skills.
Reading comprehension.
Mathematics calculation.
Mathematics problem solving.
The child does not make sufficient progress to meet age or State-approved grade-level standards in one or more of the areas identified in 34 CFR 300.309(a)(1) when using a process based on the child’s response to scientific, research-based intervention; or the child exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, State-approved grade-level standards, or intellectual development, that is determined by the group to be relevant to the identification of a specific learning disability, using appropriate assessments, consistent with 34 CFR 300.304 and 300.305; and the group determines that its findings under 34 CFR 300.309(a)(1) and (2) are not primarily the result of:
A visual, hearing, or motor disability;
Mental retardation;
Emotional disturbance;
Cultural factors;
Environmental or economic disadvantage; or
Limited English proficiency.

To ensure that underachievement in a child suspected of having a specific learning disability is not due to lack of appropriate instruction in reading or math, the group must consider, as part of the evaluation described in 34 CFR 300.304 through 300.306:
Data that demonstrate that prior to, or as a part of, the referral process, the child was provided appropriate instruction in regular education settings, delivered by qualified personnel; and
Data-based documentation of repeated assessments of achievement at reasonable intervals, reflecting formal assessment of student progress during instruction, which was provided to the child’s parents.
The public agency must promptly request parental consent to evaluate the child to determine if the child needs special education and related services, and must adhere to the timeframes described in 34 CFR 300.301 and 300.303, unless extended by mutual written agreement of the child’s parents and a group of qualified professionals, as described in 34 CFR 300.306(a)(1):
If, prior to a referral, a child has not made adequate progress after an appropriate period of time when provided instruction, as described in 34 CFR 300.309(b)(1) and (b)(2); and
Whenever a child is referred for an evaluation.
[34 CFR 300.309] [20 U.S.C. 1221e-3; 1401(30); 1414(b)(6)]

4. Describe the required observation.

The public agency must ensure that the child is observed in the child’s learning environment (including the regular classroom setting) to document the child’s academic performance and behavior in the areas of difficulty.

The group described in 34 CFR 300.306(a)(1), in determining whether a child has a specific learning disability, must decide to:
Use information from an observation in routine classroom instruction and monitoring of the child’s performance that was done before the child was referred for an evaluation; or
Have at least one member of the group described in 34 CFR 300.306(a)(1) conduct an observation of the child’s academic performance in the regular classroom after the child has been referred for an evaluation and parental consent, consistent with 34 CFR 300.300(a), is obtained.
In the case of a child of less than school age or out of school, a group member must observe the child in an environment appropriate for a child of that age.
[34 CFR 300.310] [20 U.S.C. 1221e-3; 1401(30); 1414(b)(6)]

5. Specify documentation required for the eligibility determination.

For a child suspected of having a specific learning disability, the documentation of the determination of eligibility, as required in 34 CFR 300.306(a)(2), must contain a statement of:
Whether the child has a specific learning disability;
The basis for making the determination, including an assurance that the determination has been made in accordance with 34 CFR 300.306(c)(1);
The relevant behavior, if any, noted during the observation of the child and the relationship of that behavior to the child’s academic functioning;
The educationally relevant medical findings, if any;
Whether the child does not achieve adequately for the child’s age or to meet State-approved grade-level standards consistent with 34 CFR 300.309(a)(1); and the child does not make sufficient progress to meet age or State-approved grade-level standards consistent with 34 CFR 300.309(a)(2)(i); or the child exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, State-approved grade level standards or intellectual development consistent with 34 CFR 300.309(a)(2)(i); or the child exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, State-approved grade-level standards or intellectual development consistent with 34 CFR 300.309(a)(2)(ii);
The determination of the group concerning the effects of a visual, hearing, or motor disability; mental retardation; emotional disturbance; cultural factors; environmental or economic disadvantage; or limited English proficiency on the child’s achievement level; and
If the child has participated in a process that assesses the child’s response to scientific, research-based intervention:
The instructional strategies used and the student-centered data collected; and
The documentation that the child’s parents were notified about: (1) the State’s policies regarding the amount and nature of student performance data that would be collected and the general education services that would be provided; (2) strategies for increasing the child’s rate of learning; and (3) the parents’ right to request an evaluation.
Each group member must certify in writing whether the report reflects the member’s conclusion. If it does not reflect the member’s conclusion, the group member must submit a separate statement presenting the member’s conclusions.
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IDEA Regulations
INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM (IEP) TEAM MEETINGS AND CHANGES TO THE IEP
(See also Individualized Education Program (IEP) and Secondary Transition)


The reauthorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was signed into law on Dec. 3, 2004, by President George W. Bush. The provisions of the act became effective on July 1, 2005, with the exception of some of the elements pertaining to the definition of a “highly qualified teacher” that took effect upon the signing of the act. The final regulations were published on Aug. 14, 2006. This is one in a series of documents, prepared by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) in the U.S. Department of Education that covers a variety of high-interest topics and brings together the regulatory requirements related to those topics to support constituents in preparing to implement the new regulations.1 This document addresses significant changes in final regulatory requirements from preexisting regulations regarding IEP Team meetings and changes to the IEP.

IDEA Regulations

1. Identify the members of the IEP Team.

The public agency must ensure that the IEP Team for each child with a disability includes:
• The parents of the child;
• Not less than one regular education teacher of the child (if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment);
• Not less than one special education teacher of the child, or where appropriate, not less than one special education provider of the child;
• A representative of the public agency (who has certain specific knowledge and qualifications);
• An individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results and who may also be one of the other listed members;
• At the discretion of the parent or the agency, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child, including related services personnel as appropriate; and
• Whenever appropriate, the child with a disability.

In accordance with 34 CFR 300.321(a)(7), the public agency must invite a child with a disability to attend the child’s IEP Team meeting if a purpose of the meeting will be the consideration of the postsecondary goals for the child and the transition services needed to assist the child in reaching those goals under 34 CFR 300.320(b).
[34 CFR 300.321(a) and (b)(1)] [20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(1)(B)]

2. Identify instances when an IEP Team member may not need to attend.

A member of the IEP Team described in 34 CFR 300.321(a)(2) through (a)(5) is not required to attend an IEP Team meeting, in whole or in part, if the parent of a child with a disability and the public agency agree, in writing, that the attendance of the member is not necessary because the member's area of the curriculum or related services is not being modified or discussed in the meeting.

A member of the IEP Team described in 34 CFR 300.321(a)(2) through (a)(5) may be excused from attending an IEP Team meeting, in whole or in part, when the meeting involves a modification to or discussion of the member's area of the curriculum or related services, if:
• The parent, in writing, and the public agency consent to the excusal; and
• The member submits, in writing to the parent and the IEP Team, input into the development of the IEP prior to the meeting.
[34 CFR 300.321(e)] [20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(1)(C)]

3. Provide for inviting representatives from the Part C system.

In the case of a child who was previously served under Part C of the IDEA, an invitation to the initial IEP Team meeting must, at the request of the parent, be sent to the Part C service coordinator or other representatives of the Part C system to assist with the smooth transition of services.
[34 CFR 300.321(f)] [20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(1)(D)]

4. Require that the notice inform parents of other IEP Team participants.

The notice required under 34 CFR 300.322(a)(1) (regarding an IEP meeting), among other things, must inform the parents of the provisions in 34 CFR 300.321(a)(6) and (c) (relating to the participation of other individuals on the IEP Team who have knowledge or special expertise about the child), and 34 CFR 300.321(f) (relating to the participation of the Part C service coordinator or other representatives of the Part C system at the initial IEP Team meeting for a child previously served under Part C of the IDEA).
[34 CFR 300.322(b)(1)]

5. Revise requirements for when transition content must be included in an IEP meeting notice.

For a child with a disability beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child turns 16, or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP Team, the notice required under 34 CFR 300.322(a)(1) (regarding an IEP meeting), among other things, must:
• Indicate that a purpose of the meeting will be the consideration of the postsecondary goals and transition services for the child, in accordance with 34 CFR 300.320(b) and that the agency will invite the student; and
• Identify any other agency that will be invited to send a representative.
[34 CFR 300.322(b)(2)]

6. Set forth provisions regarding consideration of Individualized Family Services Plans (IFSPs) for children aged three through five.

In the case of a child with a disability aged three through five (or, at the discretion of the State educational agency (SEA), a two-year-old child with a disability who will turn age three during the school year), the IEP Team must consider an IFSP that contains the IFSP content (including the natural environments statement) described in section 636(d) of the IDEA and its implementing regulations (including an educational component that promotes school readiness and incorporates pre-literacy, language, and numeracy skills for children with IFSPs under 34 CFR 300.323 who are at least three years of age), and that is developed in accordance with the IEP procedures under Part B.

The IFSP may serve as the IEP of the child, if using the IFSP as the IEP is consistent with State policy and agreed to by the agency and the child’s parents.

In implementing these IFSP provisions, the public agency must provide to the child’s parents, a detailed explanation of the differences between an IFSP and an IEP. If the parents choose an IFSP, the public agency must obtain written informed consent from the parents.
[34 CFR 300.323(b)] [20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(2)(B)]

7. Require that the IEP be accessible to teachers and others responsible for its implementation.

Each public agency must ensure that:
• The child’s IEP is accessible to each regular education teacher, special education teacher, related services provider, and any other service provider who is responsible for its implementation; and
• Each teacher and provider described in this provision, is informed of his or her specific responsibilities related to implementing the child’s IEP and the specific accommodations, modifications, and supports that must be provided for the child in accordance with the IEP.
[34 CFR 300.323(d)]

8. Address the IEP for a student who transfers to a different school district in the state.

If a child with a disability (who had an IEP that was in effect in a previous public agency in the same State) transfers to a new public agency in the same State, and enrolls in a new school within the same school year, the new public agency (in consultation with the parents) must provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to the child (including services comparable to those described in the child’s IEP from the previous public agency), until the new public agency either adopts the child’s IEP from the previous public agency, or develops, adopts, and implements a new IEP that meets the applicable requirements in 34 CFR 300.320 through 300.324.
[34 CFR 300.323(e)] [20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(2)(C)(i)(I)]

9. Address the IEP for a student who transfers from another state.

If a child with a disability (who had an IEP that was in effect in a previous public agency in another State) transfers to a public agency in a new State, and enrolls in a new school within the same school year, the new public agency (in consultation with the parents) must provide the child with FAPE (including services comparable to those described in the child’s IEP from the previous public agency), until the new public agency conducts an evaluation pursuant to 34 CFR 300.304 through 300.306 (if determined to be necessary by the new public agency) and develops, adopts, and implements a new IEP, if appropriate, that meets the applicable requirements in 34 CFR 300.320 through 300.324.
[34 CFR 300.323(f)] [20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(2)(C)(i)(II)]

10. Address transmittal of records for students who transfer.

To facilitate the transition for a child described in 34 CFR 300.323(e) and (f) (who transfers within the State or from another State), the new public agency in which the child enrolls must take reasonable steps to promptly obtain the child’s records, including the IEP and supporting documents and any other records relating to the provision of special education or related services to the child, from the previous public agency in which the child was enrolled, pursuant to 34 CFR 99.31(a)(2) (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)) and the previous public agency in which the child was enrolled must take reasonable steps to promptly respond to the request from the new public agency.
[34 CFR 300.323(g)] [20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(2)(C)(ii)]

11. Add a new provision for amending the IEP without another meeting.

In making changes to a child’s IEP after the annual IEP Team meeting for a school year, the parent of a child with a disability and the public agency may agree not to convene an IEP Team meeting for the purposes of making those changes, and instead may develop a written document to amend or modify the child’s current IEP.

If changes are made to the child’s IEP in accordance with 34 CFR 300.324(a)(4)(i), the public agency must ensure that the child’s IEP Team is informed of those changes.
[34 CFR 300.324(a)(4)] [20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(3)(D)]

Changes to the IEP may be made either by the entire IEP Team at an IEP Team meeting, or as provided in 34 CFR 300.324(a)(4), by amending the IEP rather than by redrafting the entire IEP. Upon request, a parent must be provided with a revised copy of the IEP with the amendments incorporated.
[34 CFR 300.324(a)(6)] [20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(3)(F)]

12. Encourage consolidation of IEP meetings.

To the extent possible, the public agency must encourage the consolidation of reevaluation meetings for the child and other IEP Team meetings for the child.
[34 CFR 300.324(a)(5)] [20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(3)(E)]

13. Provide for the review and, as appropriate, revision of the IEP.

Each public agency must ensure that, the IEP Team reviews the child’s IEP periodically, but not less than annually, to determine whether the annual goals for the child are being achieved and revises the IEP, as appropriate, to address:
• Any lack of expected progress toward the annual goals and in the general education curriculum, if appropriate;
• The results of any reevaluation;
• Information about the child provided to, or by, the parents, as described under 34 CFR 300.305(a)(2) (related to evaluations and reevaluations);
• The child’s anticipated needs; or
• Other matters.

In conducting a review of the child’s IEP, the IEP Team must consider the special factors described in 34 CFR 300.324(a)(2) (development of the IEP).

A regular education teacher of the child, as a member of the IEP Team, must, consistent with 34 CFR 300.324(a)(3) (participation of regular teacher in development of the IEP), participate in the review and revision of the IEP of the child.
[34 CFR 300.324(b)] [20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(4)]

14. Authorize alternative means of meeting participation.

When conducting IEP Team meetings and placement meetings pursuant to subparts D and E of Part 300, and carrying out administrative matters under section 615 of the IDEA (such as scheduling, exchange of witness lists, and status conferences), the parent of a child with a disability and a public agency may agree to use alternative means of meeting participation, such as video conferences and conference calls.
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