With increasing diversity in education and training, over 6% of university students have a disability that impacts on their study. Significant progress has been made in recent years to "level the playing field" and reduce discrimination however or students with disability completion rates and employment outcomes are still significantly lower than for their peers.
The introduction of equal opportunity legislation means that we all now have responsibilities to ensure that we do not discriminate and that students with disability are given a "fair go" to succeed in their chosen course, gain meaningful employment and participate fully in society.
Meeting the needs of students with disability has for some time been seen primarily as the responsibility of the disability services and has been dependent upon the good will of staff. Rather than this "bolted-on" approach, the key to improving outcomes is to "build-in" equitable policies and practices across the organisation. Such inclusive approaches are cost effective in the medium term, minimise the need for expensive, time consuming responses to individual student needs and minimise the risks (financial and reputation) of litigation.
CATS is an Australian resource that provides information to assist universities to improve the quality of teaching and support for students with disability. If we are to achieve this goal it is important that we are aware of legislative requirements and have a clear understanding of the social context of disability.