Disability equality and discrimination in higher education: staff and student perceptions of the 'reasonable' adjustments made for print disabled students

Rowlett, Emma Jane (2011) Disability equality and discrimination in higher education: staff and student perceptions of the 'reasonable' adjustments made for print disabled students. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

PDF - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (18MB) | Preview


The aim of this research was to explore staff and student experiences of the barriers print disabled students face and the adjustments made to overcome these. Universities are obliged by the Special Education Needs and Disability Act 2001 and the Disability Discrimination Acts 1995 and 2005 to make 'reasonable' adjustments, but receive only limited guidance as to how far they have to go to do this.

No literature, research-based or otherwise, has so far dealt with the full range of issues relating to the implementation of adjustments for print disabled higher education students and until now few questions have been asked about why difficulties arise. Some studies have dealt with general issues relating to disabled higher education students (e. g. Riddell, Tinklin and Wilson, 2004; Fuller et al., 2006; Healey, Fuller, Bradley and Hall, 2006) but their conclusions are not fully applicable to print disabled students. Other literature has looked at issues relating to the accessibility of documents (e. g. RNIB, 2003, 2004, 2006; JISC TechDis, 2006a, 2006b, 2007a, 2007b) but does not consider how these issues affect higher education students. A small amount of literature focuses on general issues affecting print disabled students, but so far this has only focused on the underlying impairments that lead to it in isolation (e. g. visual impairment - Roy, 2003; or dyslexia - Riddick, 2001). Several sources have produced guidelines for making reasonable adjustments for students with dyslexia (e. g. The University of Nottingham 2006a) and visual impairments (e. g. West Virginia University, 2005b), but no comparisons appear to have been made been the similarity of the two.

This study expands on previous research to explore the experiences of print disabled students, both from the perspective of print disabled students themselves but also from the perspective of the staff who support them. It explores the impact of the medical and social models of disability, as well as the mediatory model of disability displayed by the disability legislation.

Its findings suggest that whilst universities have made considerable progress in reducing discrimination and promoting equality, print disabled students still experience significant problems. It concludes that whilst SENDA 2001 has contributed to the progress that has been made, legislation alone may not be capable of producing the cultural change that is needed.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Pascall, G.
Schneider, J.M.
Keywords: Students with visual disabilities, education (higher), services for, disability awareness
Subjects: H Social sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Sociology and Social Policy
Item ID: 12743
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 01 Aug 2012 10:26
Last Modified: 22 Dec 2017 07:47
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/12743

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View