Disability Support at College and Further Education for People with Special Needs
College education is a great way to pick up new skills, open new horizons and prepare for higher education. Being disabled or having specific learning difficulties doesn’t have to limit studen’ts choices. The point is to carefully plan the path you’re going to take in your education and carefully choose the course and the college, where is necessary support is available.
It is not a secret that providing students with specific needs with a quality education opportunities and giving them all the necessary tools for comfortable learning process is a challenging task for any college. The problem lies in the diversity of disabilities that require different approach to the learning process as well as special equipment. Nevertheless, creating a learner-friendly environment is a prerequisite towards a prosperous future of the country, as we strive to shape our world according to the principle of equality of opportunity, tolerance and holistic understanding of people's needs.
Let’s take a brief look on what people with disabilities need to get a decent education.
Accessibility of education. This encompasses transportation, special facilities at schools and colleges to make it comfortable for the disabled to attend onsite classes. Also it includes availability of elearning and distance learning courses, which allow students do all or a part of their studying from home.
- Intentionally elaborated programs corresponding to their needs and possibilities both at home and at academic institutions. Different pacing is also required. Impaired people are not able to catch up with the rest of the students that is why educational programs should be personalized and simplified according to the mental state of the individuals.
- Psychological and mental support provided by specialists as psychologists, mentors, educators, specially trained teachers.
- Consistent guidance. Students with specific needs must be guided by teachers and/or mentors all the time to be constantly motivated and pushed toward improvement. Parents of such children should be prepared to work with them at home with the help of programs and lists of indispensable activities to do in order to overcome the illness.
Due to the nature and the disease severity, we can point out three main groups of students with special needs and thereby name the kind of support educational establishments should offer.
Students possessing speech and language related disorders have problems with articulation and language perception are hard at understanding language constructions, reproducing sounds, reading and writing. Methods of teaching these children include a constant guidance of a specialist (psychologist and/or speech therapist).
Physically impaired students require primarily supportive services connected with transportation, physical therapy, psychological assistance etc. This requires additional (and mostly significant) financing from both families and colleges, so the distant education is also a way out. It is of primary importance to create online tests, programs, interactive video, essay writing tasks and lessons to motivate such individuals and make their learning process interesting. Making up special projects for physically impaired people will be a good opportunity for them to show their possibilities and talents.
Mental retardation may be classified as mild, moderate, severe and profound. It is better to start to take care of such students before their teens to make better progress in their achievements. The methodology of teachers these special individuals should be based on game therapy, visual teaching and practical approach.
As we can see, the disabled students education requires high funds, which are not always available, especially at public educational establishments. Yet, students with disabilities, health conditions or specific learning difficulties may claim extra financial help for their education. Sources of extra financial support include:
governmental programs (social security disability insurance program, SSI)
If the local college/university cannon profive enough support for students with disabilities (including health and mental health conditions), such students may be boarded to specialist colleges, where they will receive necessary care and proper education.
What about the learning process?
The government, as well as teacher boards, needs to develop a new program, oriented towards distant education, which does not only mean online streams and emailing with a teacher. First of all, a new program should involve parents (and/or caregivers) into educational process. Parents need to help not only physically, assisting their child with their studies, writing help, or , but also doing their best to support their children mentally and spiritually.
Colleges and other educational establishments are responsible for providing their students with both technical and personal support to let them get maximum from the study. For students with special needs there should be not only specialised equipment, but also specialist tutors, such as interpreters, classroom assistants, note takers and others. Also, students should be allowed to use additional services, software for hearing or visual impairments, services providing essay writing help and others, subject to the nature of the impairment and the course of study
Another important point for the student’s wellbeing in educational instututiol is the social environment. Students should have a talk with their professors to make sure the latter understand that they are going to be faced with a special student, who needs a bit more attention at times, or just to make sure they provide all the necessary accommodations for them. Students with difficulties must not be closed off because they need to inform the public of their needs to make their life easier and more convenient for achieving success. A straight conversation with the peers is also important especially if there are any trouble-makers at the collective. They also need to be taught tolerance and patience to help their group-mates feel more comfortable during lectures.
High school students with disabilities have more advantages than they have ever thought. Such individuals possess the priority to be enrolled even in the top-notch schools because they bring variety to the academic table and current trends in education. They will be an example of constant perseverance and flexibility that is indispensable in the modern world.
About the author:
Joseph Sartori is a freelance writer and blogger, focused on education, psychology and self-development.