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Disability awareness > Module 1 > Page 2

 

Context and theories of disability

Disability and education in Ireland

It is estimated that there are 360,000 people with a disability in Ireland. This accounts for approximately 10% of the population. (Report of the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities 1996) In recent years there has been a steady increase in the numbers of students with disabilities gaining access to third level education and an increasing number of students with dyslexia.

Initial findings of a survey carried out by AHEAD on behalf of the Higher Education Authority in 2000 indicate that students with disabilities account for just 1.1% of the undergraduate population participating in third level education in Ireland. (Hoey 1999) This has now risen to 1.5% with many Institutions achieving up to 2% participation rates. This figure represents just over 850 students with disabilities studying in a range of faculties across higher education institutions.

The following is a disability profile of the undergraduate population in 1999:

  • physical disability 13%
  • blind and visually impaired 6%
  • deaf and hearing impaired 5%
  • specific learning difficulties 34%
  • asthma 32%
  • other 10%

As more and more people with disabilities participate in mainstream schooling, the number of students wishing to pursue further education is bound to continue to increase. The wider range of opportunities now open to them means that third level education is increasingly attracting students of varying abilities.

The challenge for the sector now is to look at ways in which universities and colleges of further education can develop policies, which promote equity and inclusiveness.

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