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Support and Inclusion of students with disabilities at Higher Education institutions in Montenegro Inclusive Teaching at HEIs: Recognizing and identifying the needs of higher education students with disabilities Lefkothea Kartasidou, Greece
Definition of Inclusion • Inclusion is the full acceptance of all students and leads to a sense of belonging within the classroom community. • Inclusion is an effort to make sure students with disabilities go to school along with their friends and neighbors while also receiving whatever, “specially designed instruction and support” they need to achieve high standards and succeed as learners.
Inclusion and HEIs • Inclusion: reconstruction of the educational process including its educational services, curriculum, and the rehabilitation of the staff's beliefs and roles in the educational field in order to meet the needs of special needs students.
Disability Visual Impairment/ disability Physical Disability Specific Learning Difficulties i.e. Dyslexia Hearing Impairment Long-term health conditions Psychological/ psychiatric disorders
Mobility impairments • Some students are born with mobility impairments/ physical disability/ orthopedic impairment, while other can be caused by illness, injury or accident. It may be any condition that affects the ability to move, from lack of coordination in a particular group of muscle fibers to complete paralysis. Some students may also experience non-visible disabilities like epilepsy, respiratory disorders etc.
Commonly met non-academic consequences • Low self esteem • social perception of mobility impairment as a prototype of “unhappiness” and “life disaster”, • being perceived as if disability, which is in most cases apparent, was a core personality element and the most influential determinant of behavior, needs and life choices of a person with disability, • dependency on others in some areas of everyday activities, • consequences in social interactions, eg. being forced to get help, • meeting architectural barriers, • difficulties with the tasks that require precise movements and/or physical strength (reaching objects, holding, grasping, manipulating them, pointing), • difficulties with eye-movements e.g. with intentional directing eyes toward objects, with maintaining eye-contact during conversations, • Health problems i.e. epilepsy
Commonly met academic consequences • chances for an independent exploration of the environment and, in case of possible poor hand-eye coordination, more difficulties in processing details of objects that are held, • lack of manual precision – difficulties with manipulating objects, poor handwriting and/or lower typing and keyboard skills, • necessity to use additional breaks during classes because of greater effort taken to complete tasks and/or because of the results of coexistent somatic (e.g. urinary or gastric) problems, • in case of speech problems - problems to pass oral exams without any communication support, • stronger dependency on transport facilities, sometimes additional absences caused eg. by bad weather conditions, • inaccessibility of lecture halls, desks, they are often designed in a way that violates the principle of low physical effort required, • sometimes inaccessible of standard paper instructional materials and books because of inability to turn pages manually and/or directing gaze, • Inaccessibility of many fieldworks, i.e. geological or archaeological ones.
Visual impairment/ disability • The terms partially sighted, low vision, legally blind, blindness, and totally blind are used in the educational context to describe students with visual impairments. • To determine what does a visual disability mean in each particular students' situation it is necessary to take under account three factors: visual acuity, a range of field of vision and every other somatic functional condition that influences the abilities to receive and process visual stimuli properly.
Commonly met academic consequences • social perception of visual impairment • consequences in social interactions, eg. being often forced to get help, being directed without a request or permission, • difficulty to imagine especially huge or far distant objects (eg. complex curved front of a building) that are impossible or very difficult to be experienced via other senses • psychological problems (eg. weaker sense of self-efficacy) esp. in a situation of vision loss • difficulties in daily living activities • spatial orientation difficulties
Commonly met academic consequences • longer time to read irrespectively of a method used (with Braille technique being the longest – it takes longer time to find a clues in the text because of linear searching method), • inability to read printed materials or to use them in their standard form; serious barriers are set by a low quality copied instructional materials often provided for students, • inability to utilize visual cues given in a standard way during classes and assessments; being unable to locate objects on the base of instructions such as “As we can see here…”, • inability to acquire new knowledge that is provided fully in a graphic form with no additional textual description, e.g. graphs, • obstacles to interpret commonly used video materials with no audio description of visual content, • inaccessible web-pages, • longer time to reach all the texts required in an accessible format, longer time of preparation to exam period
Hearing impairment/ disability • hard-of-hearing students using mainly auditory channel of receiving information and oral way of communication • hard of hearing student mainly dependent on lip-reading with a wide possible range of language competencies • deaf students strongly dependent on lip-reading, quite often with comprehension skills and communication fluency affected • deaf students who are users of natural sign languages and often do not consider themselves as students with disabilities • students during the rehabilitation period after receiving cochlear implant who are able to perceive new sounds but have to learn what the particular streams of sounds mean • students with difficult level of efficiency of alternative, compensatory communication strategies – either deaf or hard-of-hearing
Commonly met non academic consequences • sense of loneliness, a sense of being odd caused by daily communication barriers • lack of support, hearing disability is perceived as less negatively influential on development • identity problems – consequences experienced mostly by deaf student who do not know sign language • being strongly relied on other’s knowledge of strategies that support communication with people with hearing disabilities i.e. keeping eye-contact • safety and organizational issues • being perceived as a person with disability while perceiving oneself as a deaf minority member
Commonly met academic consequences • speech fluency, • following oral instructions and lectures, • taking notes during lectures, • completing other simultaneous tasks if one of those requires following-oral instruction (dependency on being face-to-face with the speaker), • following the discussions that are not well moderated i.e. people talk at the same time, no clear turn taking, • longer time to complete written assignments – it is necessary to look up a new dictionary and to control the style of the text, • access to few audio or audiovisual materials provided with captions or the text enclosed.
Specific learning disability • SLD means a condition of neurological origin, adversely affecting the capability of an individual to process specific kinds of information (mainly symbolic). One or more processes involved in processing information, including written or spoken language, are affected. • SLD mean significant difficulties in coping with the demands of one or more of the traditional academic domains (Reading, Writing, and Mathematics) often accompanied by problems in social skills and strategy learning, and occasionally by shortcomings in attention focusing, fine motor coordination, and organizational skills
Commonly met non academic consequences • difficulties with time management and organizing the process of completing tasks, • high dependence on the quality of feedback given – it should not be too global and imprecise, strengths should be emphasized, • obstacles to fully utilize personal strengths in everyday activities – many of everyday situations are designed in a way that is based on standard abilities in reading, writing or number processing, • difficulties with getting a proper diagnosis of learning difficulties as an adult, • psychological difficulties, diminished sense of self-efficacy based on repeated failure to keep standard educational expectations.
Commonly met academic consequences • being more susceptible to distraction, difficulties with focusing attention, prioritizing information, • lack of fluency in determining the right link between the sign (symbolic representation) and that what the sign represents, • difficulties with working under time pressure and under working memory overload e.g. when the material or a lecture is not well-organized and it is to be processed in a very short time, • difficulties with extraction of most important information and with taking notes, • troubles with structuring the content eg. with writing assignments, • comprehension problems, • barriers in reading aloud, • dealing with the demands of daily academic life (e.g. keeping deadlines, following rules, using the library, finding classrooms), • spontaneously developing learning strategies and using them in the appropriate conditions.
Psychological and psychiatric disorders • Depression / Bipolar Disorder / Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) • Anxiety Disorders • Personality Disorders • Schizophrenia
Remark • To provide academic accommodations that would fit best it is especially useful to switch from the diagnostic discourse towards thinking about functional outcomes of a particular psychological/psychiatric problems. • What makes this approach particularly useful is the fact that every individual student's condition is a stream of different symptoms from different diagnostic areas changing in time rather than a static figure suggested by descriptions in diagnostic manuals.
Example • A student who suffers from schizophrenia may need no support on the basis of psychotic symptoms such as hearing voices or being overwhelmed by fear and disoriented, features typically associated with this diagnosis, because of the good results of treatment and the absence of such symptoms. Instead of it he or she may take great advantage from the support designed for students with symptoms of depression while being in the phase of adapting to the new diagnosis and social environment's reactions to it.
Commonly met non academic consequences • sleep pattern disturbances, • change in appetite, weight and/or one's typical level of caring for one's own image, • extensive tiredness, • agitation, • fear, from less intensive and persistent to very intensive episodes of it, causing dramatic 'fight or flight' reactions, • inability to undertake daily responsibilities and roles • change in the individual typical level of socializing e.g. social withdrawal • avoidance of situations that involve interactions and cooperation, • difficulties with perceiving and integrating social cues to properly interpret people's intentions, • oversensitivity or diminished sensitivity to some stimuli, • loss of interest in activities that were once considered pleasurable, • being more susceptible to somatic problems, injuries and accidents
Commonly met academic consequences • missing classes, • fear of public speaking, • fear of authority figures, • troubles with keeping standard deadlines, • vulnerability to negative effects of improperly delivered feedback (eg. too global, very judgmental), • difficulties with common requirements of work in cooperation with peers, • sensitivity to distraction during completing tasks, • longer time to manage emotions triggered by exams, resulting in longer time to complete tests, • stronger dependency on regular feedback on academic progress; difficulties in self-motivating and avoidance of facing academic challenges on time
Long term health conditions • neurological problems e.g. epilepsy, conditions caused by injuries, pharmacologically induced neurological symptoms, • immunological, rheumatologic and endocrinological diseases e.g. hypothyroidism strongly connected with probability of experiencing low mood episodes, • respiratory problems, • allergies e.g. food allergies, • skin diseases, • gastrological problems, • urinary system problems, • stress-related functional somatic symptoms.
Commonly met non academic consequences • tiredness, • pain, • sleep disturbances, • thermo-regulatory difficulties, • distorted sense of self-efficacy and personal control in different areas (physiological processes, aim-oriented activities, choice of career, maintaining relationships, perceiving one's own physical and social attractiveness), • negative body-image concerns, • time and the way of completing tasks determined by dynamics of changing symptoms, • hospitalization periods - interruption in normal way of functioning, • physiological and sensory disruption, • difficulties with communicating needs of support while meeting one's own need of privacy and confidentiality.
Commonly met academic consequences • time and way of completing tasks determined by dynamics of changing symptoms - remission time and exam period often do not overlap, • missing classes, • inability to keep up with standard deadlines and standard schedule of exam period, • inability to proceed with long tasks without additional breaks, • inability to attend classes because of immune deficiency, • problems with working in teams and being interdependent in completing the tasks, • the necessity of using leave permissions and changing group of mates, • problems in concentration resulting in difficulties in note taking, • conflict between time of classes and time of medical appointments.