AppliedDisability, Policy Rights and Citizenship Audit in Northlight School
1.1 About this document 3
1.2 The Setting 3
1.3 Rationale 4
1.3.1 Understanding People with Disability 4
1.3.2 Access to ordinary service and the law 5
Theory of citizenship 6
2.1 Definition of Citizenship 6
2.2 Rights and Responsibilities 7
2.2.1 The Disabled People Movement in Britain 7
2.2.2 Singapore En-able Plan in Educations 8
2.3 Access to School Facilities 9
2.4 Participation 10
3.1 Defining Legislation and policy 11
3.2 Disabled People and Anti-discrimination Legislation in Singapore and the UK 12
3.3 Policy about schools settings 13
3.3.1 National and International Legislation 14
3.3.2 Local Policy 15
3.3.3 Organizational Policy 15
4.1 Recommendation 16
4.1.1 Approach 16
4.1.2 Routes and External Level change 17
4.1.3 Entrances and Reception 17
4.1.4 Horizontal Movement and Assembly 18
4.1.5 Lavatories 19
4.1.6 Information 19
4.1.7 Means of Escape 20
Introduction1.1About this document
Thereport endeavors to undertake a complete access audit and to explorethe theory of citizenship and provide an understanding of thebarriers people with disabilities face every day. The barriersreferred, in this case, include physical obstacles in buildings andsystemic barriers in civic programs. The audit will use relevantpolicies and legislations to appraise the audit regarding how theyinfluence disabled people accessibility to services within buildings.Subsequently, recommendations will be given on the changes thatshould be made to change the environment setting to enable a moreaccessible environment to all. The document provides comprehensiveand constructive assessment on an audit report in Northlight Schoolregarding citizenship orientations and rights for the disabled.
Thisresearch will focus on exploring the challenges disabled people facewhen accessing the learning environment. In this case, the setting isa school environment, the Northlight School in Singapore that alsotakes in students with special needs. Northlight School is agovernment-owned secondary school established by the Ministry ofEducation to help students with difficulties in handling the normalcurriculum in the country (Northlight School, 2015).
Thesetting was chosen due to the growing trepidations about physicalbarriers young learners in the regular curriculum in Singaporecontinue to face due to the physical barriers that exist affectingtheir capabilities to access services and resources within theschools. Research shows that people with disabilities encounter manydifferent forms of barriers both attitudinal and physical and thesetup of the environments they operate in contributing to thosechallenges (Building and Construction Authority, 2013 Castrodale andCrooks, 2010). Disproportion in accessibility to facilities andamenities provided by schools to all students make disabled childreninferior feel pity and stereotyped (Padzi and Ibrahim, 2012). Theneed to increase accessibility to the school buildings does not onlybenefit the disabled especially those on wheelchairs or still onsupport equipment but also makes it easier for the entire schoolcommunity to move around.
1.3.1Understanding People with Disability
Disabilityremains to be a complex and dynamic multidimensional and highlycontested subject in the society. In the past four decades, disabledpeople’s movements and many other social and health sciences havecontinued to identify the role of social and physical barriers indisability (Boon and Goptinathan, 2006). These shifts from a medicalperspective to a social perspective provide a new way of how peoplewith disabilities are seen, not by their bodies but through thelenses of society (Masefield, 2006). The Social Model viewpoint ofdisability is based on the physical and social barriers imposed onpeople with impairments by the society. Hence, this shifts theresponsibility to the society to recognize that the environment needsto change rather than the person (Sutherland, 2004).
Peoplewith different disabilities are likely to be excluded from publicbuildings by the fact that they cannot access the structures or anyattempt may compromise their comfort or dignity in one way or theother. Such barriers, however, occur differently depending onindividual physical disability or impairment (Parker, 2001). In thisregards, it is imperative to realign policies to include all aspectsthat influence the rights of the disabled.
1.3.2Access to ordinary service and the law
Nationaland international initiatives such as the United Nations StandardRules on the Equalization of Opportunities of Persons withDisabilities has included disabled people human rights also adaptedin the 2006 United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons withDisabilities (CRPD)(Masefield, 2006). In the U.S. Equality Act(2010), dual discrimination in relation characteristics such asdisability directs that measures to prevent discrimination to accessshould be instituted in the organization (Castrodale and Crooks,2010 Padzi and Ibrahim, 2012). Many human rights andanti-discrimination legislations have different approaches on howthey refer to the issue of inclusion of disabled people in thecommunity but all have the same goal to ensure equality especiallyto disabled people and their ability to access resources in thecommunity they live.
Theoryof citizenship 2.1Definition of Citizenship
Theproblem of citizenship has been at the center of practicum politicalissues concerning access to public resources as well as in discussionrelated to traditional theoretical debates in sociology on socialintegration and social solidarity (Padzi and Ibrahim, 2012 Turner,1990). Traditionally, the inclusive participation of members ofsociety in shaping up the structure of the society they belong tothrough taking part in social activities is one way to being a goodcitizen (Turner, 1997). To take part in the said activities,therefore, required equal access to the members of the society, hencedenying disabled individuals such an opportunity such as access to aschool`s facility is to deny that particular individual theircitizenship (Bellamy and Kennedy-McFoy, 2013). The work of T.HMarshall forms the basis of many sociological debates regarding theanalysis of the conceptual framework of citizenship. Marshall’sconcept of citizenship perpetuates that citizenship can be related toa three-legged stool. The three stands of the stool as per theconcept refer to political, civil and sociological rights ofindividuals within the society (Turner, 1997).
2.2Rights and Responsibilities
Howcitizenship is accorded depends on the societal construct of everycommunity (Barnes, 2004). In fact, Fulcher (2015) and Hughes (2015)postulate that the societal paradigm is the single most influentialfacet in the contextual consideration of citizenship. Regarding thesocial model of citizenship, the society has mandated theresponsibility of ensuring equality and eliminating barriers thatlead to denying disabled people their citizenship (Jorain, 2015).This gives public entities such as the government the responsibilityof ensuring that legislations being enacted protect disabled people’srights at every facet of their daily lives (Turner, 1997 Whitburn,2015). Owing to this fact, legislations such as the Equality Act(2010) have specifically provided guidelines and regulations thatshould provide equality to access to resources. The legislativefurther places the responsibility to service providers andcommunities to ensure inclusive practice in policy development andimplementation.
2.2.1The Disabled People Movement in Britain
InBritain, there have been many approaches to fighting the continuedseclusion of the disabled from the society regarding accessibilityand equality of public resources and basic rights (Cameron, 2010Hughes, 2015). The disabled people’s movement emerged in the 1960sactivism as a campaign toward fighting for equality and access topublic services by forming a coalition composed of differentmovements converging to a common goal (Barnes, 2004 Sutherland,2004). At the initial stages of forming the disabled people’smovement, a key figure in play included Paul Hunt, who had animportant role to play in figuring out the challenges that were beingexperienced by the charities that were in place at the time(Masefield, 2006). It is to this understanding that politicalconsciousness developed and better-structured organizations wereformed led by the disabled people themselves to serve them better(Cameron, 2010). This led to the opening of the Centre forIndependent Living in 1984 in Britain (Masefield, 2006) that gave thedisabled direct control over their affairs and theAnti-Discrimination Legislation introduced by Jack Ashley in 1982that eventually passed into law in 1995 as the DisabilityDiscrimination Act (DDA). Later on in the 1990s, the DisabledPeople’s Direct Action Network (DAN) was formed opening up fornational programs of building affordable and accessible homes(Sutherland, 2004 Barnes, 2004). Since then, the network has allowedthe proliferation of programs and policies dedicated to the libertiesand privileges of the disabled.
2.2.2Singapore En-able Plan in Educations
InSingapore, human rights groups together with the government havecontinued to work closely towards achieving the United NationsConvention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)initialized in November 2012 and the Enabled Master plan. Through theSingapore En-able Plan, different ways have been sought to ensurethat persons with disabilities have equal opportunities and enjoysimilar rights and freedom as everyone else in the society (Parker,2001 Ol Akinniranye, 2011). The focus of En-able plan initiative hasmainly been on respecting the inherent dignity and individualautonomy and the freedom of people with disability to make theirchoices. The successes that have since then been attained includestrategizing on how disabled children access quality education.
2.3Access to School Facilities
Theright to education is one of the indispensable basic rightsestablished under the fundamentals of the Grand basic human rights(Ol Akinniranye, 2011). Every child has the right to access basiceducation and the government, society, and education providers havethe mandate to ensure equal access to basic education of every child(Cameron, 2010 Jorain, 2015). It is imperative for disabled childrenthat they access all facilities with ease thus, school settings needto allow them to utilize all amenities provided to every child withinthe school facility (Building and Construction Authority, 2013). Anyeffort to constrain disabled children to access resources as otherchildren within the school is equally a preclusion frameworkpreventing them from becoming equal members of the community they arepart of hence, denying their citizenship status.
Failingto identify disabled children in schools, as active citizens is adisservice to their basic rights as citizens and human beings(Jorain, 2015). In many cases, education and access to learningfacilities are mostly assumed to be associated with healthy people.Most disabled people are not considered to have the right to schoolas other normal children (Disabled People`s Association, n.d.). Thisleaves disabled children in schools underserved with equal access tothe school facilities hence segregating them as second-classcitizens.
Themost important theme in citizenship is enabling equality and fairparticipation at any setup in the society (Disabled People`sAssociation, n.d. Ol Akinniranye, 2011 Parker, 2001). Participationrefers to fail inclusion and access to resources and social, civiland political rights as any other citizen. In the school setup, thistranslates to accessing school resources such as higher floorlibraries, classrooms, sports and entertainment arenas and freemovement within the school compound without structural obstructions.The community plays an important role in enabling fair access andparticipation. In a school environment, the school administration canempower disabled children to be able to compete with the rest andexperience learning optimally like the rest of the students (DisabledPeople`s Association, n.d.). Participation is a critical part ofpolicymaking as well as in statutory and voluntary services in thesociety (Masefield, 2006 Whitburn, 2015). It is to this fact thatthe Equality Act stresses on participation at every level and pushingorganizations to ensure accessibility to the disabled people.
Policy3.1Defining Legislation and policy
Legislationrefers to the process of crafting and ratifying laws. On the otherhand, policy is a specific course of action or principle thatutilized or proposed by a given entity. Legislation guides policiesthrough creating a pathway to which organizations adhere to whencreating policies to be followed. Organizations guide their practicesthrough the policies they put in place (Cameron, 2010). The creationof the Disabled People’s Movement was influenced by the lack ofproper political, voluntary and charitable organizations will tosupport the disabled people effectively.
Throughthe social model, people with disabilities have managed to sharediscrimination experiences enabling the movement to grow. Since theDisabled People’s Movement was created, advancements such as theformation of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDD) in 1958 haveincreased the involvement of people with disabilities in the society.The introduction of the Equality Act (2010) that replaced the DDA hasalso increased the attention given to protecting disabled peopleagainst discrimination and exclusion (Cameron, 2010). The act hasbecome an indispensable and constructive principle in increasingattention for the privileges of the disabled.
3.2Disabled People and Anti-discrimination Legislation in Singapore andthe UK
InSingapore, the main laws that protect its citizens especially thedisabled persons are included in the Children and Young Persons Act2011. They are also included in the Mental Capacity Act enacted in2010 the central Provided Fund Act amended in 2011 and the Buildingand Construction Authority Code on Accessibility 2013 that regulatesbuildings to include facilities to cater for people withdisabilities. Singapore government supports the fact that all itscitizens are equal, and they have the right to be protected fromdiscrimination (DPA, n.d.). Singapore being a signatory to the UNConvention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), children withdisabilities have entitled the right to be provided special andsupport. Through the Enabling Masterplan 2012-2016, Singapore hascontinued to promote support for people with disabilities throughincreased public awareness geared towards supporting inclusiveness(Munday, 2013).
Inthe UK, there are two specific disability legislations laws whichinclude the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA), (Goodley, 2011)and the Special Education Needs and Disability (NI) Order 2005(SENDO) (Marsin, Ariffin & Shahminan, 2014 Perry, 2015). Thelaws safeguard people with disabilities from discrimination inaccessing basic human needs, owning or renting property (Perry,2015), access to important social services and facilities as well asthe way public organizations undertake services that affect peoplewith disabilities (Parker, 2001). The law also covers on thediscrimination against disabled people’s rights to health,education, employment, motoring and transport. The UK has in placethe Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and the Northern IrelandHuman Rights Commission structured as independent UN Convention onthe Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Under the EqualityAct 2010, the definition of people with disability has also beengiven describing disability as physical or mental impairmentinhibiting an individual’s normal functioning in their dailyactivities (Cameron, 2010).
3.3Policy about schools settings
United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
The Enabling Masterplan 2012-2016
National Council of Social Service (NCSS)/Social Service Institute (SSI)
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on 2 October 1995.
The National Council of Social Services (NCSS)
Building and Construction Authority of Singapore (BCA)
Ministry of Transport (MOT) and the Land Transport Authority (LTA)
Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS)
3.3.1National and International Legislation
Somenational and international legislations that provide laws andregulations regarding schools’ setup and the way school buildingsare constructed to allow children with disabilities to easily accessall facilities. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) and theSpecial Education Needs and Disability (NI) Order 2005 (SENDO) pushesfor schools in Singapore to ensure that the disabled children inlearning institutions can use all the resources provided by theschools. The United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Personswith Disabilities (CRPD) plays an important role in the community inhighlighting the challenges people with disabilities face andproviding policies to be adopted by institutions to preventdiscrimination and inequality. United Nations Convention on theRights of the Child (CRC) on 2 October 1995 provide an important setof regulations in Singapore that are highly recommended by theSingapore government to be applied by institutions and organizationshandling children welfare. These include schools that facilitatelearning for children with disabilities (Munday, 2013).
TheEnabling Masterplan 2012-2016 in Singapore has played a significantrole in attaining effective results about children with disabilitiesrights in schools and other learning environments. Through TheEnabling Masterplan 2012-2016, effective strategies set by thegovernment and the private sector as the main stakeholders inaddressing the challenges being faced by children with disabilitiesin learning institutions (Enabling Masterplan 2012-2016, 2012).
NationalCouncil of Social Service (NCSS)/Social Service Institute (SSI) mainis concerned with coordinating and managing voluntary WelfareOrganization (VWO) in Singapore. Government schools receive specialfunding from the VWO to assist in providing adequate resources tochildren with disabilities in the learning environments. Building andConstruction Authority of Singapore (BCA) policies are directlyresponsible for pushing for implementation of design of schoolsbuildings to incorporate facilities that support children withdisabilities. The organization provides nationwide policies on theway schools should be constructed and the type of amenities that mustbe included in the buildings to cater for the children withdisabilities needs (Munday, 2013).
Northlightschool policies are comprehensive, and they clearly address the needsof the disabled children learning in the facility. The policies setup the school as a community that is responsible and friendly to anychild with disabilities. The school infrastructure, curriculum, andorganizational behavior are constructed taking into consideration thepresence of the challenged children in the school. An existing policyindicates that the school staff, workers and the communitysurrounding the school have clear guidance on how to interact withchildren with disabilities and how to serve them better. The schoolopenly acknowledges the challenges that people with disabilities gothrough and the staffs are trained to provide adequate support.
Thereport of this audit is imperative in advancing checks and aspectsfor comprehensive evaluations in other settings. The audit section iscritical to the report as it demonstrates the actual scenario of thesetting and makes it easy to identify areas of improvement asexplored in the recommendations.
Fromthe checklist provided, the route options provided from the schoolmain entrance to the car park and the car park are easily accessible.The area is an open space hence well-lit and labeled especially forthe pedestrian paths and the people with disability pathway such asthose on wheelchairs.
Theonly suggested improvement is to provide a shelter along the stretchtowards the administration block and provide rest seats forindividuals who may not be able to cover the distance at once. Thepathways can also be painted to divide the wheelchairs going towardsthe administration block and those oncoming from the school towardsthe parking lot.
4.1.2Routes and External Level change
Mostof the labels and maps printed and placed in all the corners of theschools are clearly labeled and market. Visibility has also beenenhanced by making the maps both painted and printed to glow when itis dark. All pavements and external passages around the schoolcompound are well leveled and safe to walk on. Only at the interiorparts of the ground floors are fitted with smooth ceramics that maybe slippery during wet weather posing a risk to children that mayrun. Most pavements are exposed with no grills leading directly tothe flowerbeds. This may be dangerous for wheelchairs especially thelikelihood of colliding.
Itis recommended that the section with the ceramic floor on the outsideshould be well labeled that it is slippery when wet. Support grillsshould also be fitted to provide support when the floor becomesslippery. The corners of the pavements should be market as sharpbends, and a grill should be mounted to protect the children fromrunning directly to the flowerbeds.
4.1.3Entrances and Reception
Fromthe checklist, the main entrance door is clearly marked and evenpartially visually impaired children can identify the signage. Thelevels of the markings are also high enough to be read by childrenmoving on wheelchairs. However, the door handle is practically highermaking it a problem for shorter students in wheelchairs. Thereception counter is high than the average height of normal children.The students may have difficulties stretching to reach the surface incase of picking items from the reception table.
Itis therefore recommended that the main entrance doors to the mainadministration block should be fitted with an automatic sensor toopen when a student approaches and closes automatically withouthaving to push or pull. The same has been implemented in the mainhalls and the laboratory. The door marking should always be wiped toensure the marking is clear to visually impaired children. It isimportant that one side of the table can be lowered so that studentsin wheelchairs can reach.
4.1.4Horizontal Movement and Assembly
Manyparts of the school where horizontal passages are positioned onlyallow one wheelchair to pass at a time. The space provided cannotallow two wheelchairs to pass at the same time with other students.The lighting in most of the pathways and hallways are well-litproviding adequate lighting and visibility to all the students. Thefire exit signage is also properly fitted and positioned in everyexit area. Unfortunately, not all exit areas have alternatives to thestairs in the upper floors. Only the lift can be used at times ofemergencies. The fire exit signage also is placed high for studentson a wheelchair to read easily the emergency exit map accurately.
Itis recommended that the exit maps be printed on a larger platform toallow seated students on wheelchairs to read easily. The schoolshould also provide more alternative emergency exit routes that haveno stairs cases other than the main exit paths on top floors.
Theschool has, at least, two lavatories on every floor for disabledstudents both girls and the boys. The markings are however not placedfrom the outside to indicate that the lavatories can accommodatestudents with disabilities in case of presence of visiting studentswho may not be familiar with the environment. It is recommended thatthe lavatory area is properly marked with appropriate signage.
Theschool has placed adequate sources of information for disabledstudents in strategic points of the school. Right at the entrance ofthe main gate, the security desk is equipped with all necessarysignage and information available for the students to use. The schoolhas however not fully exhausted all avenues to which they candistribute information to the disabled students in the school. It isrecommended that information such as posters, guidelines, and mapswithin the school should be readable and well displayed with readableliters. Large format printing is required for map and instructions toenables visually impaired student to easily read the letters on theinstructions.
4.1.7Means of Escape
Theschool has a dedicated fire exit for the disabled students runningalong the main fire exit path. The space allocated is, however, smalland can only accommodate one wheelchair at a time. Recommendations toimprove spaces in fire exit route include in future putting up moreescape routes outside the building that can support disabled studentslike the rest. Specific staff members should also be trained tohandle emergency cases and be there to offer assistance whenemergency alarms go off.
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