In the United Kingdom there is a growing awareness of disability issues and the need for an inclusive society. The Disability Discrimination Act to protect against disability discrimination was passed in 1995. Although it does not include education in its scope, all universities are required to consider the needs of students with disabilities. Governmental and institutional policy have been improving since implementation of the Act in December of 1996.
Lancaster has hosted study abroad students with a variety of disabilities recently, including two blind students, an electric wheelchair user, and several with dyslexia or ADD. Many other British students with disabilities also attend Lancaster. In 1994, the university won the Queen’s Anniversary award for the excellence of provision for students with special needs. Staff receive training in disability and are automatically notified of special needs disclosed by students. A Student Adviser working in the Disabilities Service co-ordinates a wide range of services to students with disabilities, including study abroad students. Note that there is a lack of University funds to pay for extra services, and any additional expenses would need to be covered by the student or the home institution.
Study abroad students take integrated courses with other British students. A full-time courseload is 32 credits per year (maximum). Some may take less. Students who come for a full academic year will have a much wider range of courses to choose from.
Teaching styles will vary, but as is usually the case in the British higher education system, grading is frequently based on papers and final exams rather than class participation or periodic exams. Coursework is less structured than in the American system, so students need to be quite self-reliant to carry out reading assignments.
Lancaster can arrange nearly all test or assignment accommodations, including copies of syllabi in advance, extra time, low-distraction testing environment, and alternative assignments. For an extra fee, arrangements can be made for note-taking assistance.
Induction loops are available in some lecture halls. However, availability of sign language interpreters is limited nationally, and interpretation would be available for British Sign Language only.
All classrooms are wheelchair accessible or can be moved. Scribes can be arranged for voiced input for students with upper mobility disabilities.
Braille signage is generally provided for buildings, classrooms, and elevators. Arrangements can be made for a mobility orientation. Course materials can be made available in alternate formats.
Wheelchair-accessible transportation and restrooms are available, but only some destinations are wheelchair-accessible. A sighted companion can be arranged to accompany an individual. Some sign language interpreting could be arranged, but again only for British Sign Language.
Student residence halls are self-catering (shared kitchen facilities are available for student use), but various cafeteria/fast food outlets are also available for those who prefer not to cook their own meals. Rooms have private bathrooms with showers (no bathtub). There are specially adapted rooms available for wheelchair users. Note that availability adapted rooms is very limited for January starters; students are strongly advised to begin the program with the fall semester and to request special accommodations well in advance. Alert systems for deaf students’ telephone, doorbell, and fire alarms are available upon request.
Computer labs with Internet access are available for student use, and students can obtain an electronic mail account upon arrival. The computer lab is wheelchair-accessible. A wide range of adaptive technology is available for use at a designated location, including a scanner, Braille printer, screen magnification software, large screen, CCTV, speech output software, and voice recognition system. A cassette tape recorder and adaptive keyboard/mouse may be borrowed.
Campus library facilities are wheelchair-accessible. Assistance can be provided consulting the card catalogs, taking books off the shelves, and photocopying materials. There is an electronic card catalog and computer equipped with modem and screen magnification software, as well as a text scanner for use in conducting research. Use of a private room can be arranged. A Braille display connected to the computer is available in a designated location.
The Lancaster campus is located about 3 miles outside of the city and is quite self-contained. The campus can be crossed on foot in about 10 minutes. There is a bus from campus to town every 10 minutes, but it is not accessible. Taxis are accessible, but expensive.
The Campus Health Centre provides general practice doctors, mental health services, a dentist’s office, and pharmacy, and is wheelchair-accessible. Sign language interpreters may be more difficult to obtain for US students since any available interpreters are not versed in ASL.