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Northern Ireland Assembly: Further Education Provision for Young People with Disabilities

A debate in the Northern Ireland Assembly centred around the following motion:

That this Assembly expresses concern at the lack of further education courses specifically targeted at young people with learning and physical disabilities; recognises the lack of provision for disabled young people over the age of 19; and calls on the Minister for Employment and Learning to provide sufficient further educational opportunities to ensure that these young people achieve their full potential. –— [Mrs O’Neill.]

Which amendment was: Leave out all after “expresses” and insert

“its continued commitment to securing training and employment opportunities where appropriate for young people with disabilities; and awaits the outcome of the review of such provision undertaken by the Minister for Employment and Learning.” — [Mr B McCrea.] [Mr McClarty]

Within this debate, a specific mention of deaf people was made, by Alastair Ross (DUP)

Along with many Members, I have asked questions on widening access to courses and was informed that, in 2006, students at further education colleges included 488 blind or partially sighted people and 839 who were deaf or had hearing impediments. Those are people who can go into mainstream courses if certain provisions are made. Therefore, it is imperative that access to mainstream courses is made easier and that the requirements of disabled people are met. Some measures are simple, such as making physical access easier, much of which is already covered in legislation. My colleague Mr Spratt referred to a range of legislation that exists in that field.

Comment from Alison:
The motion is about courses targeted at deaf people (amongst others), yet the response to this talks about mainstream courses and access to this. Whilst access to mainstream courses is imperative, it fails to address the key issue of treating everyone exactly the same which can lead to discrimination. Sometimes mainstream just does not do. Trying to fit a circle through a square comes to mind.

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