ACCESSIBILITY OF INCLUSIVE PROVISIONS FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES TRANSITIONING INTO HIGHER EDUCATION IN THE UAE: AN INVESTIGATIVE STUDY
The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
Embodying the aspiration of the United Arab Emirates leadership, the vision of the Ministry of Education (MOE), is to ensure quality education for all. To implement the Federal Law 29 of 2006 on the rights of People with Disabilities (PWDs), the MOE launched the “School for All” guideline 2010, under the title “General Rules for the Provision of Special Education Programs and Services for Public and Private Schools.” Transitional services are included in these provisions. This was also declared in the country’s National Policy in 2017 on PWD, currently known as People of Determination (POD). It has been noted that, transitional Services as outlined by the “School for All” guideline do not describe detailed provisions as current international transition practices do, where an Individual Educational Plan (IEP), a summary of performance and required supports are delineated in an exhaustive manner. In contrast, the Quality Standards (QSs) of services for PWDs in governmental and private institutions, issued by the Ministry of Community Development in 2016, introduces a more comprehensive sets of standards for non-specialized institutions to guide provisions for PWDs. For this study, it seemed befitting to explore inclusive provisions in Higher Education through the lens of those QSs. The study aims at investigating inclusive provisions that facilitate transitioning PWDs from high school into HEIs. How inclusive provisions are perceived by PWDs at the opposite ends of a transition, as well as by those who provide these services in high schools and colleges, can point out whether higher education in the UAE is regarded as accessible. This study utilized a sequential mixed methods approach. The 222 participants are from eight high schools and four colleges in the UAE. The qualitative and quantitative data was generated using: documents review, interviews, questionnaire and observation. Statistical analysis and coding of the data revealed themes of PWDs readiness for the journey from high school to higher education highlighting needed provisions that can facilitate their transition to HEIs. The findings point to a “missing link” between secondary and post-secondary education that needs to be urgently addressed for a smoother transition into HEIs. Recommendations serving that purpose are offered. This study contributes to the scant literature considering inclusive higher education in the UAE, and sets a new direction for future research to examine transition services in national post-secondary education.
People with disabilities -- Education (Higher)., persons with disabilities, secondary education, higher education, accessibility, transition practices, People of Determination (POD)