Byline: ANDREW CLARKE
DISABLED children have better access to Welsh schools and better standards of teaching than any other parts of the UK, according to a leading rights commission.
It says that Wales is leading the way on implementing law on disability education.
Their findings show that more has been achieved in Wales to ensure that schools, colleges, parents, and young people are aware of new laws which benefit disabled people in schools and colleges.
Research undertaken by the Disability Rights Commission also reveals that the general public in Wales places a greater value on teaching disabled pupils in an integrated setting than their counterparts elsewhere in the UK.
Education and Lifelong Learning Minister Jane Davidson marked this achievement by launching the DRC's Educating for Equality campaign in Wales at the innovative support centre for deaf and hearing impaired pupils at Llanishen High School in Cardiff .
The Disability Rights Com-mission in Wales has worked closely with the Welsh Assembly Government, the schools inspectorate Estyn, curriculum authority Accac and other agencies to enhance understanding about legislation which will ensure that disabled pupils and students are not discriminated against.
The new responsibilities were introduced under the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 and these new duties cover all aspects of school and college life.
The legislation will ensure that policies and practices like admissions criteria do not discriminate unfairly against disabled pupils and students. The Act will also ensure that colleges make ``reasonable adjustments'' to their services and buildings to make life easier for disabled students - for example allowing blind or dyslexic students to tape lectures.
``The new law will make a real difference,'' said DRC Wales director Will Bee. ``Schools and colleges will for example no longer be able to bar admissions from pupils simply because they are disabled. The law covers a wide range of disabled people including people with hidden conditions.
``We are pleased that so much has already been achieved in Wales but it is vital that all parents, governors, teaching and non-teaching staff know about the new rights and their responsibilities.
``It is most appropriate for the DRC to be launching our campaign in a mainstream school with innovative practices in integrating disabled pupils. Whilst special schools still have a role to play in education, this support centre at Llanishen challenges the old assumption that all deaf and hearing impaired children must be taught in a special school setting. …