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Special education reforms in Ireland: changing systems, changing schools

KENNY, Neil
MCCOY, Selina
MIHUT, Georgiana
2020

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Ireland has a distinct and complex history regarding the education of persons with special educational needs (SEN) and in its approach to inclusion. Special and general education largely developed in parallel and separately. As recently as the 1990s, legal actions by parents seeking educational rights for children with severe disabilities prompted appropriate provision for these students and a shift towards inclusive schools. The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act set out important changes – although not all implemented – followed by a series of changes in resource allocation, culminating in the removal of the requirement for students to be diagnosed in order to access supports. International evidence suggests that resource allocation based on learners’ profile and SEN diagnosis have been linked to the overidentification of SEN students. Ability to pay for private assessments has also been shown to exacerbate inequality in Ireland and beyond. We examine how Ireland's policy changes are impacting on schools and students, drawing on emerging evidence. We consider concerns over the adequacy of teacher professional development, the intended and potentially unintended consequences from a process of ‘domestication’ at the school level and ultimately whether the changes are accompanied by sufficient and appropriate accountability measures.

Supporting the enactment of inclusive pedagogy in a primary school

BRENNAN, Aoife
KING, Fiona
TRAVERS, Joe
2019

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While inclusion has generally been accepted as orthodoxy, a knowledge – practice gap remains which indicates a need to focus on inclusive pedagogy. This paper explores how teachers in the Republic of Ireland primary school were supported to develop inclusive pedagogy to meet the needs of learners with special educational needs (SEN). It is underpinned by a conceptual framework which combines an inclusive pedagogical approach and key principles of effective professional development (PD) arising from the literature, which informed the development of a professional learning community (PLC) for inclusive practice in a primary school. The impact of the PD on teachers’ professional practice was explored using an evidence-based evaluation framework. Analysis of interview and observation data evidenced that engagement with inclusive pedagogy in a PLC, underpinned by critical dialogue and public sharing of work, positively impacted teacher attitudes, beliefs, efficacy and inclusive practice. This research offers a model of support for enacting inclusive pedagogy.

Towards independent living: Collecting examples from Europe

ANGELOVA-MLADENOVA, Lilia
March 2019

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This Collection is a joint initiative of the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) and the European Disability Forum (EDF). It features examples from different EU Member States, which to a different extent facilitate the right to live independently in the community.

The examples are divided into four areas, presented in different chapters:

  • Legislation and funding: State Funded Peer-Counselling – Estonia; Direct Payments – Ireland.
  • Community-based support: Peer-Counselling for women with disabilities – Austria; Supported living for adults with intellectual disabilities – Croatia; Supported Decision-Making – The Czech Republic; Mobile Mental Health Units – Greece; Personal Assistance for People with Complex Disabilities – Sweden .
  • Involvement of disabled people: Co-Production in Social Care – United Kingdom; Participation of Organisations of People with Disabilities – Italy
  • Self-advocacy: Self-Advocacy of Disabled People – Romania

 

Aligning with the flow of control: A grounded theory study of choice and autonomy in decision-making practices of people with intellectual disabilities

CAREY, Eileen
2018

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Purpose: Choice and autonomy are recognized as values facilitating genuine self- determination. Subsequently greater understanding of these concepts in decision-making practices of adults with intellectual disabilities is required.

 

Aims: The twofold aim of this research study was to ascertain the core concern (most important issue) for adults with intellectual disabilities as they make choices and exercise autonomy and to develop a theory explaining how these adults attempt to resolve their core concern.

 

Methods: This research study undertaken in a single organization in the Republic of Ireland applied classic-grounded theory methods. Participants included twelve adults who were attending day services and accessing a variety of other organizational services. Interviews were undertaken, between January 2012 and September 2013, in different contexts on up to 4 occasions (46 interviews). Data analysis utilized concurrent processes of constant comparative analysis.

 

Results: The main issue of concern for these participants was ‘control’ in environments that were controlling of them and they responded by ‘aligning with the flow of control’ explained by how they framed control, emotionally connected and adjusted in compliance situations.

 

Conclusions: This theory offers a conceptual delineation of the way adults with intellectual disabilities manage the daily tensions and harmonies in decision-making.

A study on the equal recognition before the law - Contribution towards the Council of Europe strategy on the rights of persons with disabilities (2017)

NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF IRELAND
March 2017

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This study aims to identify ways and means of implementation of Article 121 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) which affirms the right to equal recognition before the law. It represents a paradigm shift to identifying persons with disabilities as subjects with legal rights. There are 4 parts. Firstly, the scope of the obligations contained in Article 12 is analysed. Secondly, the approaches taken by various member States of the Council of Europe to comply with Article 12 of the CPRD by way of law reform and shifts in policies and practices are surveyed. Good practice examples from member States are then provided to demonstrate approaches which show potential for fuller alignment with Article 12.  Finally, a recommended set of measures is set out to provide guidance to member States on how best to reform their legal architecture in accordance with the requirements of Article 12.

European Semester : Developing more inclusive labour markets for all?

EUROPEAN ASSOCIATION OF SERVICE PROVIDERS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES (EASPD)
November 2016

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This report examines why the European Semester should look further into the employment rates of persons with disabilities and which measures should be taken at national level to improve the current situation. An overview is given on employment and the UN CRPD and its meaning for the European Union (EU). What the EU is currently doing when it comes to developing more inclusive labour markets through its Employment policy and the European Semester process is examined. The assessment of the legal, political and economic arguments why the European Commission should do more in regard to the employment of persons with disabilities are presented. The economic arguments are also presented through a Study developed specifically for this report by Professor Stephen Beyer. Several ideas as to how the European Commission could focus more on this issue, with feasible and pragmatic recommendations are presented. Specific national messages from EASPD members are included on what changes are needed to tackle the significant unemployment rate of persons with disabilities throughout Europe; including in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain.  

Web accessibility policy making : an international perspective

G3ICT
THE CENTRE FOR INTERNET AND SOCIETY
January 2012

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This report reviews of a number of countries policies on web accessibility to share good practice. The internet and ICT have become increasingly accessible with the introduction of electronic screen readers, close-captions video viewers and personally tailored assistive technology readers. Despite this, the authors maintain that there are still 1 billion disabled people who could have better access to the internet and ICT and there is great potential for improvement

Children’s rights for all!|Implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child for children with intellectual disabilities

SISKA, Jan
LATIMIER, Camille
October 2011

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This publication provides an overview of the situation of children with intellectual disabilities in twenty two European countries, with a particular focus on five areas: protection against abuse, family support and (de-)institutionalisation, health, education, and participation of children. It recommends steps to be taken to remove barriers to their inclusion. The publication is based on a series of country reports that were prepared by national experts

Complexities in the Provision of Respite Care to Family Carers of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities

MANNAN, H
O'BRIEN, P
MCCONKEY, R
FINLAY, F
LAWLOR, A
HARRINGTON, G
2011

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Purpose: Respite care is generally thought to benefit family carers of persons with intellectual disabilities and is regarded as an important component of family-centred services. However, the complexities associated with the provision of such services, from the carer’s perspective, have been rarely investigated.

 

Method: This qualitative research study was carried out through a participatory action research process that involved collaboration among researchers and family members as co-researchers. Seven focus groups, involving seventy family carers (fifty mothers, fifteen fathers and five sisters), were held in seven locations across the Republic of Ireland.

 

Results: Three main themes dominated the discussions. The first theme related to the ambivalence of carers towards using respite services, as expressed in their reluctance to relinquish care-giving for even a short period; the feelings of guilt they experienced; and the greater needs of other carers. The second theme related to the benefits of respite breaks, but these were solely with respect to the carer and other family members, rather than to the person with an intellectual disability. The third theme regarding the quality of provision was dominated by concerns for the care the person received in using the services.

 

Conclusions: Respite care has the potential to make a difference, and these findings call for building much- needed alliances between all members of the family and professionals. This is in order to support one another through the difficulties associated with the redesign of existing respite provision, and the extension of these services to the growing number of carers who require respite breaks.

Good practice guidelines for the providers of support and services for students with disabilities in higher education

MCKERNAN, Connie
2008

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These guidelines were written "for the provision of supports and services for students with disabilities in higher education. These guidelines aim to create a better understanding of the needs of students with disabilities and help to promote inclusive practice across institutions. Included in the guidelines are practical examples, case studies and recommendations"

International best practices in universal design : a global review

DION, Betty
et al
August 2007

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This review provides an international overview of the technical information on accessibility criteria for the built environment that is being used by countries as they prepare to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The document compares the accessibility codes and standards from 16 international jurisdictions, including the new standards from Canada and the USA, as well as standards from Mexico, Uruguay, Sweden, Ireland, Spain, South Africa, Bangladesh, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and Lebanon

The concept of reasonable accommodation in selected national disability legislation

DEPARTMENT FOR ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS (DESA), UNITED NATIONS
December 2005

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This paper describes how national legislation in selected countries has managed to incorporate the concept of reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities. It utilises case studies from the following selected countries: Australia, Canada, European Union, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States and Zimbabwe

Direct payments schemes for people with disabilities

NOLAN, Ann
REGAN, Colm
2003

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This report outlines the possible effects of direct payment schemes for disabled people. Direct payments essentially involve relevant statutory agencies giving cash to people with disabilities to purchase their own support services directly. They are designed to offer individuals with a disability significant choice and control over the type of service wanted and/or needed and so to enhance independence and autonomy. Direct payments primarily relate to the delivery of community care services, but employment supports and housing grants are also relevant and suitable to a direct payments system. The concept of direct payments developed against a background of creative tension between the medical and the social models of disability

Definition of disability in Europe : a comparative analysis

MABBETT, Deborah
September 2002

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This resource provides an overview of the definitions of disability found in anti-discrimination laws and social policies of member states of the European Union. The aim is to show how different definitions of disability are relevant to different policies and the importance of specificity to avoid poorly targeted programs. This resource would be useful for anyone with an interest in legislation, advocacy and policy development. It is also available in French and German

Child friendly cities initiative

UNITED NATIONS CHILDREN'S FUND (UNICEF)

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This website is a knowledge base for the global Child Friendly Cities (CFC) Initiative. It contains the CFC Database, which collects information on the role played by local governance systems in the areas of child rights, child participation and services for children; a CFC toolkit, which offers a definition of a CFC, examples of good practice and successful methods from around the world, a framework for action and key references

EFC publications : disability country profile 2012

EUROPEAN FOUNDATION CENTRE (EFC)

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This resource presents the national level European country reports that examine the effect of the economic crisis, and its consequences in terms of austerity measures, on the rights and status of people with disabilities. In particular, the reports focus on the impact on the delivery of social services and income supports and allowances particularly aimed at people with disabilities

International disability rights monitor (IDRM) regional reports

CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL REHABILITATION

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These regional reports are the primary focus of the International Disability Rights Monitor (IDRM) project and have been compiled by local IDRM researchers. Each report focuses upon several key areas such as legal protections, education, employment, accessibility, and health and housing services for people with disabilities. The reports include a detailed report on each country and a report card that compares the progress made by countries across the region. Reports are available on the Americas, Asia and Europe, as well as two thematic reports, in downloadable pdf format. They are useful for people interested in research on disability and development

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