The Disability Rights Commission says schools and colleges owe a duty to all students – and the quicker they recognise this the more likely they are to help end the social exclusion of many disabled people.
This duty starts from the way an educational establishment takes on students.
So, someone going for university selection may be discriminated against if the establishment has placed the interview in an inaccessible room or not given the student additional time and instructions how to reach the location.
Since September 2003, the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (SENDA) has obliged schools and colleges to provide support services such as signing interpretation or other equipment. It could also mean providing students with course notes in alternative formats or ensuring a computer room includes adaptive technology.
By September 2005, educational establishments need to make physical alterations to buildings to improve access – although a recent test case win means sixth-form colleges cannot deny a place to a wheelchair-using student on the basis of "inaccessible" facilities.
Obligations go beyond the student and cover parents too. Schools need to take into account a disabled parent's right to attend events, such as school plays and parents-teachers evenings – otherwise a refusal would constitute discrimination.