All students at higher education level now use computers in their learning. Increasingly, significant elements of courses are mediated by computer. Lecture notes, seminar topics, reading lists and so on are posted on course Web sites. The computer is used not only for reporting work, as a tool in research, and for data analysis, but also in labs to control experiments. There is increasing use of multimedia learning activities (such as virtual science approaches). Computers are used to support communications between students and between the students and their tutors by e-mail, discussion lists and online forums. For disabled people to be able to study at higher education level, they must be enabled to use a computer and participate fully in the computer-based activities of both their courses and the wider university context.
Many countries are developing legislation making it illegal to discriminate against disabled people in education (see Chapter 2). In the UK the key legislation is the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 (SENDA). 2 This legislates that education providers must not treat a disabled person less favourably for any reason that relates to the person's disability.