Enforce disability-specific standards

11th June 2010 at 01:00

The letter ("Short-sighted training system", May 21) from the chair of the Scottish Association for Visual Impairment, Dominic Everett, was timely and apposite, in view of the news of the creation of a specialist curriculum in England for deaf-blind children, the review of teacher training in Scotland and cuts to public services.

Mr Everett's analysis of the structural deficiencies in the education of children with visual impairment is clear, and he has offered a partial solution to this by advocating appropriate teacher training.

What he has not done is to take the logical step of advocating for national standards that are specific to each disability, to deliver the "consistent approach to the delivery of services" that he concludes is needed.

There are no mandatory standards in the education of children with disabilities in Scotland, yet the education of non-disabled children is hemmed around with every conceivable standard.

All organisations campaigning for people with disabilities now have the opportunity to press for national standards of initial and continuing teacher education in relation to children with disabilities, through the review conducted by Graham Donaldson.

The other essential elements to enable the enforcement of standards are specialist curricula, or adaptations to the mainstream curriculum, and quality indicators for school inspections that are disability- specific.

These are all sensible measures, which guard against the lowest common denominator schooling meted out to pupils with disabilities, the only "standard" of which is whether or not the child can cope with the school environment. There are international models for each of these three elements, most particularly in the United States.

Autism Rights invites all other disability organisations to join us in campaigning to enforce educational standards for children with disabilities.

Fiona Sinclair, Autism Rights, Arran View, Dunure, Ayrshire.

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