Access becomes a legal obligation

Is your school accessible? The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 (SENDA), which comes into force this month, makes it unlawful for any school to discriminate against disabled pupils. SENDA brings access to education within the remit of the Disability Discrimination Act, and increases the rights of children with statements to attend a mainstream school. This obligation extends from existing to prospective pupils. Schools now have a "future duty" not to discriminate, and must have plans in place to improve physical access and access to the curriculum by May 2003, including facilities such as Braille and British Sign Language.

For information and advice on implementing the Act go to the Discrimination Rights Commission website, www.drc.org.uk, where there are also links to organisations that campaign for and support children with disabilities. For information on the Schools Funding Initiative which is providing cash for access improvements go to http:www.dfes.gov.uksen.

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