Understanding Accessibility, Inclusion and Performance of Students with Disabilities in Higher Education: A Case Study of University of Delhi
Despite extensive government policies, programmes and legislative initiatives for inclusive education of children with disabilities in India, both the rates of educational participation and outcomes of education remain poor for children and young adults with disabilities. Efforts aimed at achieving equality of opportunity do not translate in to freedom of opportunity for students with disabilities, who find their set of capabilities restricted because of the impairment, and their functionings diminished because of the various barriers posed by their economic resources and surrounding social environment. Barriers in institutions of higher education can be physical, financial, technological, systemic or attitudinal. This paper examines the impact of both physical and attitudinal barriers on academic achievements of students with disabilities in higher education through a case study of the University of Delhi. Econometric analysis of primary data, collected from 168 undergraduate students with disabilities enrolled across 35 colleges, to find the correlates of their academic performance reveals the dominant and detrimental impact of invisible attitudinal barriers based on negative perceptions of ‘dis’-ability. It also highlights the inherent limitations of piecemeal policy responses to provisions for such students, which largely remain focused on elimination of barriers to physical access. Without appropriate policy consideration for remediation, the invisible barriers posed by negative attitudes towards disability can frustrate all other efforts at achieving inclusive education.
KeywordsDisability; Marginalization; Inclusive education; Attitudinal barriers; Higher education; University of Delhi
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