Students with disabilities lived experiences on enablers that support their access and participation in a Ghanaian university.

Year: 2019

Author: Akoto, Yaw

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Abstract:
Students with disabilities reasons for accessing and participating in university education do not differ from the reasons non-disabled attached for higher education. However, there is limited knowledge about the lived experiences of students with disabilities in higher education in regards to elements that support their access and participation in Ghana. In Ghana, issues that concern students with disabilities are not treated with urgency because of the belief system that associate disability with evil. This lack of attention makes it difficult to assess the effect of these enablers in the education of students with disabilities. Using phenomenological approach, this research explores factors that influence students with disabilities access and participation in a Ghanaian university. Data collection involved overt observation of the university community, analysis of disabilities policy documents of Ghana and in-depth interview with eleven participants. Data was analysed thematically. The findings show that despite the dominant belief that associate disability with evil the home support plays a major role in the education of students with disabilities in the Ghanaian university. In addition, there are some students with disabilities who despite the society’s negative perception against them have accepted and are determined to excel in the university regardless of their disability. Institutional support also influence the educational opportunities of students with disabilities in the Ghanaian university. Another significant element that support students with disabilities to access and participate in a Ghanaian university is the peer support. This study stress on the need for Ghanaian universities to sensitize its communities on issues associated with disabilities to make the institutions attractive to students with disabilities and to ensure their retention and participation. The study also emphasis the need for public education on issues with disability in order to diffuse the general conceptualization that associate disability with evil. Failure to ensure equal access and participation of students with disabilities would be a lost opportunity to promote the educational right of these students; and make the realization of their academic potentials difficult.

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