Are accessible school books and study materials for primary & secondary school available for all children with disabilities, without additional costs?
Primary and secondary education has to be provided for free, children and their families do not need to pay for their education. In order to enable children with disabilities participating at compulsory and free education support measures might be necessary – such as accessible school books and study material.
Accessible schoolbooks are an important prerequisite to enable inclusive education. But only 9 percent of respondents answered with yes that such accessible study material exists for free for all persons with disabilities. In many countries such accessible schoolbooks are available – but at extra cost, which needs to be paid by the family of the child with disabilities (Guatemala, Antigua And Barbuda, Australia, South Africa, Pakistan, United Kingdom) or like in Poland the family has the possibility to apply for refund of the extra cost. Another problem is outdated study material or only limited choice (not all existing and used books are available in accessible formats) – (United Kingdom, Albania, Suriname, Greece, Austria). It was also mentioned that even though such material exists in accessible formats the available copies are limited and therefore not every child with disabilities has the chance to obtain such (Madagascar, Belize, Bangladesh). Amongst the 53 percent of respondents who replied with yes, with qualifications also the fact that accessible schoolbooks do not exist for all types of disabilities (India, Ireland, Haiti, Netherlands, Italy, Bangladesh). In Afghanistan and Madagascar schoolbooks in accessible formats are only available thanks to the support of NGOs.
Dan Pescod, United Kingdom: “Some text books and other study material are also available in accessible formats, but by far not all, or only in one alternative format. Or they are available but have to be bought at much higher prices than standard text books.”
Roxanne Marin, Belize Assembly for Persons with Diverse Abilities (BAPDA), Belize: “They are available in accessible format but in a limited quantity and not distributed country wide all the time.”
Sally Jackson, New Zealand: “The Royal Foundation for the Blind is contracted by the government to translate materials as requested into Braille for blind students. Initial work is occurring on making electronic books available in NZSL.”
Article 9 Accessibility
- To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas. These measures, which shall include the identification and elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility, shall apply to, inter alia:
- Buildings, roads, transportation and other indoor and outdoor facilities, including schools, housing, medical facilities and workplaces;
- Information, communications and other services, including electronic services and emergency services.
- States Parties shall also take appropriate measures:
- To develop, promulgate and monitor the implementation of minimum standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services open or provided to the public;
- To ensure that private entities that offer facilities and services which are open or provided to the public take into account all aspects of accessibility for persons with disabilities;
- To provide training for stakeholders on accessibility issues facing persons with disabilities;
- To provide in buildings and other facilities open to the public signage in Braille and in easy to read and understand forms;
- To provide forms of live assistance and intermediaries, including guides, readers and professional sign language interpreters, to facilitate accessibility to buildings and other facilities open to the public;
- To promote other appropriate forms of assistance and support to persons with disabilities to ensure their access to information;
- To promote access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems, including the Internet;
- To promote the design, development, production and distribution of accessible information and communications technologies and systems at an early stage, so that these technologies and systems become accessible at minimum cost.
Article 21 Freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information
States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities can exercise the right to freedom of expression and opinion, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas on an equal basis with others and through all forms of communication of their choice, as defined in article 2 of the present Convention, including by:
- Providing information intended for the general public to persons with disabilities in accessible formats and technologies appropriate to different kinds of disabilities in a timely manner and without additional cost;
- Accepting and facilitating the use of sign languages, Braille, augmentative and alternative communication, and all other accessible means, modes and formats of communication of their choice by persons with disabilities in official interactions;
- Urging private entities that provide services to the general public, including through the Internet, to provide information and services in accessible and usable formats for persons with disabilities;
- Encouraging the mass media, including providers of information through the Internet, to make their services accessible to persons with disabilities;
- Recognizing and promoting the use of sign languages.
Article 24 Education
- States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to education. With a view to realizing this right without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity, States Parties shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and lifelong learning directed to:
- The full development of human potential and sense of dignity and self-worth, and the strengthening of respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and human diversity;
- The development by persons with disabilities of their personality, talents and creativity, as well as their mental and physical abilities, to their fullest potential;
- Enabling persons with disabilities to participate effectively in a free society.
- In realizing this right, States Parties shall ensure that:
- Persons with disabilities are not excluded from the general education system on the basis of disability, and that children with disabilities are not excluded from free and compulsory primary education, or from secondary education, on the basis of disability;
- Persons with disabilities can access an inclusive, quality and free primary education and secondary education on an equal basis with others in the communities in which they live;
- Reasonable accommodation of the individual’s requirements is provided;
- Persons with disabilities receive the support required, within the general education system, to facilitate their effective education;
- Effective individualized support measures are provided in environments that maximize academic and social development, consistent with the goal of full inclusion.
- States Parties shall enable persons with disabilities to learn life and social development skills to facilitate their full and equal participation in education and as members of the community. To this end, States Parties shall take appropriate measures, including:
- Facilitating the learning of Braille, alternative script, augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication and orientation and mobility skills, and facilitating peer support and mentoring;
- Facilitating the learning of sign language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the deaf community;
- Ensuring that the education of persons, and in particular children, who are blind, deaf or deafblind, is delivered in the most appropriate languages and modes and means of communication for the individual, and in environments which maximize academic and social development.
- In order to help ensure the realization of this right, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to employ teachers, including teachers with disabilities, who are qualified in sign language and/or Braille, and to train professionals and staff who work at all levels of education. Such training shall incorporate disability awareness and the use of appropriate augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication, educational techniques and materials to support persons with disabilities.
- States Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities are able to access general tertiary education, vocational training, adult education and lifelong learning without discrimination and on an equal basis with others. To this end, States Parties shall ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided to persons with disabilities.