The Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Psychology has held a conference on “Students with disabilities”, specifically the inclusion settings of the given students in AUC. Psychology faculty and psychologists from outside the AUC community have participated in the conference to talk about the inclusion settings in Egypt, public schools and in AUC in specific.
A study has been conducted in 2008 to measure whether is a connection between the nature of disability and the support provided and how inclusive it is in AUC. Researchers have used semi -structured interviews with all the key players and an online survey to all faculty in UAC whether full time or part time (126 responded if 784). The study is based on responses of 52 out of 670 of AUC faculty recommending some suggestion to be implemented for better inclusion settings. Some of these are: faculty members need to be made aware of the students’ disabilities before meeting them, using a unified language in reference to persons with disabilities and assessment and support need to be on campus.
Concerning the way AUC admission deal with students with disabilities; the admission procedure for students with disabilities is exactly the same as everyone. There is no differentiation in acceptance requirements for students with disabilities. In addition to that the assessment support is till an issue it was mentioned that it was very expensive and time consuming, as the psychometrician takes more money when he/she is not a member of AUC faculty and it takes more time to send the report on the students with disability.
Besides the university’s efforts to include students with disabilities sin mainstream classes; the latter have some responsibilities to carry on for a successful inclusion. Students are asked to take responsibility of showing professors the letters that bear the accommodations they require, to make students with disabilities feel instrumental in getting their services. They are encouraged to choose any major, regardless of their disability. Unfortunately, some students are turned away from the university if they require services not available e.g. Hearing Impairment. Sometimes students struggle to have their needs met in the major of their choice (engineering student).
Accordingly, it is important to understand the nature of the disability to be able to provide the necessary utilities and services for those with disabilities. For instance, students with physical disabilities are catered for quite well as all the campus and the student living areas are fully accessible for wheelchairs; in addition to the presence of club cars that can be used for transportation through the campus. Some of the university’s services to ease the life of those with disabilities are:
- The special parking places for students with disabilities as mentioned by the Assistant Director of the Students Services office
- Students with Visual Impairments. The University Academic Computing technologies (UACT) provides assistance in the use of some technologies to enable learning.
- Students’ assistants or staff volunteers are recruited to help students with visual disabilities throughout the semester in the different academic tasks, including the class note taking, exam transcription, library research and other projects.
The Student mentoring unit and counseling center in UAC are implementing some administrative techniques to ensure the lasting of an inclusion setting, through keep tracking of the students’ educational and psychological state. The university provides English Placement Exams in – house (TOEFL or IELTS). It relieves the students of requesting accommodations, which can take at least 6 months wait time. It also provides the applicants the chance to reapply that is besides, the disability committee in AUC. However, there are problems with the legislation as the Student Disability Office has been told to not call the inclusion in AUC as being complete a sit is not 100% funded; and better to be called “supported”, so that they won’t have to do all the accommodations for students.
The university has responded to some of the recommendation based on the previous research and this year’s as well, in addition to the global instructions for having an inclusion setting. They are attempting to increase the number of staff working in the Mentoring and counseling units and assessment and support need to be on campus, despite the shortage of staff on campus and very expensive off campus.
On a national perspective, the National Strategic Plan of Education Reform is to turn special education schools into support centers and resources for inclusive education starting form the year 2014 to the year 2017. Consequently, if the given is implemented; inclusive education in the public schools of all school-age children with disabilities will become the only accepted children model. This would impose certain obstacles on having an inclusion system. The negative attitude of teachers in public schools, in adequate resources and large class sizes in public governmental school that would not enable teachers to focus with all students in the classroom.
Students with disabilities included in mainstream classes, are pulled outside classes and are required to spend more time in the resource room or with their support peers or teacher’s support to catch up with what they are missing form the content.
This has its drawbacks on their educational path. The students may miss valuable lessons in the general education class while attending the resource room. Most importantly, they may feel stigmatized for leaving the general education class to receive special help as well as the failure of the resource room and general classroom teachers to coordinate instruction.
It seems that Egypt has a problem in the structuring of the curriculum given to students in general in schools that are supervised by the government. As the curriculum is supposed to represent the society’s values as important for becoming a productive citizen and successful individual. Aiming to accommodate students with disabilities, it is necessary to prioritize the content to ensure that the most important content is mastered. It is important to focus on the way teachers deliver the content of the curriculum in a way that those with disabilities would understand and relate to it through having a meaningful purpose from what they learn.