Education For Students With Disabilities


Dignity and equality regardless of a person’s physical, mental, emotional or social state is one of the key rights each and every individual has across the whole globe. As such equal access to opportunities that one is qualified for is a social policy that should be upheld in all sectors of the society. However this is not the case when it comes to education. This policy brief highlights a key social problem in the society, ‘the lack of access of disability students in secondary schools.’ According to the World Health Organization, as well as the United Nations and World Bank estimates, up to one billion people live with a form of disability across the globe. Up to 150 million of these people are young individuals (Ravassard, 2018). Plan international identifies that these young individuals are ten times less likely to go to school and get a quality education than other children and upon their attendance then it is much likely to be a segregated setting. Unicef.Org (2012) highlights a wide range of barriers to education for students with disabilities including: Physical inaccessibility, inadequate funding, negative attitudes and stereotypes as well as lack of individualization. A wide majority of these barriers are propagated by the society and therefore presents a social policy problem that should be addressed.


According to the University of Cambridge (2019), students with disability are denied equal opportunity for accessing quality education all across the world, yet it is not considered a problem that should be guided by a social policy. Students with disability experience a lack of accessibility, both physically to school buildings as well as use of unsuitable learning materials. In addition these students’ suffer discrimination and prejudice which limit their ability of accessing education on equal terms as others, the system itself limits them to an inferior quality of education through their inclusion in a mainstream setting where they are integrated into the existent non- inclusive systems. World Bank (2017) further identify that the students undergo segregation and exclusion from these mainstream schools. According to official statistics, students with social, emotional and mental health needs are nine times more likely to face permanent exclusion from schools (Singal, 2019). They are also at increased risk of school violence and bullying which further alters their emotional state limiting their access to quality education. The national society for the prevention of cruelty to children highlights that students and pupils with SEND are more likely to face abuse (Weale and McIntyre, 2018).

In developed countries such as the UK, while students with Special Education needs and Disabilities (SEND) get access to education within all levels of the national curriculum, their learning and quality of life are at a low and continue to raise concerns regarding matters of social policy development to tackle the situation. Singal (2019) points out a recent research highlighted by the United Nations highlighting that the educational attainment for these students are significantly lower than those without SEND. While this is not considered a singular problem and therefore the devising of policies to help in its management, lack of quality education to students with SEND violates human rights, different education theories as well as the values, traditions and models of societal development highlighted by the constitution.

Unicef.Org (2012) however points out that while the lack of access to schools and quality education for student’s with disability is an issue; an equal concern is the inability of the education system to ensure quality education for students with disability and the lack of policies to ensure the accessibility and equality in education opportunities among students with disability. According to the Conflict theory the education system perpetuates and reinforces social inequalities that arise from difference in class, race, gender, ethnicity as well as disability (Lumen, 2018). This theory points out the social policy problem by highlighting that education systems preserve the status quo (the fulfillment of education is associated to a particular social class) and push people of a lower status into obedience. As such individuals of a lower social class such as; an inferior ethnicity, race or even disabilities are not fully considered and afforded the same opportunities for learning regardless of how great their academic ability is or how enthusiastic they are about learning. As a result, the education system has maintained a cycle in which the dominant social class is rewarded. The education system in tests and examination involve the dominant and social class while the lower classes are left to struggle with identifying.

Education also spreads culturally to different traditions and values all of which point to an inequality when it comes to the disabled. Mugambi (2017) highlights that the disabled are often secluded from cultural practices and often looked down upon by others as second class human beings, this leads to their development of an alternate culture, traditions as well as beliefs all of which are irrelevant within the current confines of the education system. Eventually even the model of education systems all across the world is developed for the sharp and the witted, such that those with inferior qualities (including some other than disability) are often left behind and loose out in opportunities for quality education. The ecosystem, functioning as well as mindset of a disabled individual is significantly different from that of a normal individual, as such setting them up in the same model and environment of education as well as assessment on the values, cultures, beliefs and context of the normal student highly disadvantages the disabled individual thereby limiting the quality of education they get to eventually acquire from the entire process (UNICEF, 1998).

Based on the reviewed literature which clearly highlights a margin of inequality in not only the provision of education for disabled individuals, provision of an effective learning environment and the actual education system itself, a number of policy objectives were identified as below:

Policy Objectives

To evaluate the possible wide range of ways in which individuals and students with disabilities are unequally served when it comes to opportunities such as education

To evaluate the possible impact of seclusion and segregation of the disabled Students from institutions of learning

To evaluate ways of minimizing social seclusion, abuse, violence, discrimination and prejudice of disabled individuals and students within institutions of learning.

To develop ways of ensuring physical accessibility of disabled students to their school buildings as well as enable adequate and efficient resources for their utilization

To herald the development of an inclusive education model that will ensure inclusion of all social classes, races, traditions, ethnicity as well as disabled individuals in the process of quality education dissemination.


These objectives can be achieved through a wide range of ways and activities as highlighted by Unicef.Org (2012) including: promotion of accessible and inclusive learning spaces, Investment in teacher training for inclusive education as well as community involvement.

Accessibility and inclusive learning spaces

Ensuring physical accessibility for students with disability within the school premises as well as around the school environment, having safe and easier access to services such as water and sanitation facilities while at school as well as developing learning materials in accessible formats that can suit individuals with different disability needs is crucial in stepping up the individuals self esteem, will to learn and therefore access to quality education. This should be done by all institutions that admit disabled students within their schools to even the accessibility and make the education system and environment more accessible to people with disability similar to commercial buildings which have ramps and special spaces for different individuals with disability (Ravassard, 2018).

Teacher Training for inclusive education

While the approaches to education of individuals with disability and special needs have significantly changed over the years, one such predominant and rather successful way has included special schools that can be able to offer effective guidance to individuals with disabilities. Unicef.Org (2012) however highlights a change in this tactic to ensure inclusive education for all through the special preparation and orientation of teachers for inclusion through training. In addition to the usual child centered Pedagogy, teachers will also be trained on ways to address attitudes towards individuals with disabilities as well as how to involve their families in the encouragement of their children as well as helping them realize their potentials. This should be taken up by teachers in different schools rather than development of special schools which equally also fosters exclusion.


Inclusive education is ultimately integral in the development of interconnected societies that are based on shared values and social justice as well as equality in all available opportunities and freedom. These alternatives and recommendations highlight a potential boost in inclusive and equitable quality education and a basis for development of social policies that will ensure quality education to all individuals.


Some of the recommendations made include: Training teachers to be able to facilitate inclusive education Developing structures and increasing accessibility of disabled individuals to their learning premises Community involvement to be able to provide awareness against discrimination and prejudice of disabled individuals in learning institutions

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  • Lumen (2018). Reading: Conflict Theory on Education | Sociology. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 May 2019].
  • Mugambi, M. (2017). Approaches to Inclusive Education and Implications for Curriculum Theory and Practice. International Journal of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education, 4(10).
  • Ravassard, M. (2018). Persons with disabilities. [online] Right to Education Initiative. Available at: [Accessed 12 May 2019].
  • Singal, N. (2019). Children with disabilities are being denied equal opportunities for a quality education across the world, including in the UK. [online] University of Cambridge. Available at:[Accessed 12 May 2019].
  • Unicef (1998). The Education of Children with Special Needs: Barriers and Opportunities in Central and Eastern Europe. [online] Available at:
  • Unicef.Org (2012). Education. [online] UNICEF. Available at:
  • University of Cambridge (2019). Children with disabilities are being denied equal opportunities for a quality education across the world, including in the UK. [online] University of Cambridge. Available
  • nities-for-a-quality-education-across-the [Accessed 12 May 2019]. Weale, S. and McIntyre, N. (2019). Special needs pupils being failed by system 'on verge of crisis'. [online] the Guardian. Available at:

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