School accessibility

Schools and the Education Authority must not discriminate against pupils with special educational needs due to their disability. They should promote the inclusion of special educational needs pupils in their admission arrangements and in all aspects of school life.

Accessibility plans and 'reasonable adjustments'

Schools will vary widely in how accessible they are to individual pupils. You should check what improvements have been made to a school and what is being planned when considering which school you'd like your child to go to.

Every school must have a school accessibility plan, which shows how they plan to improve accessibility for special educational needs pupils and when these improvements will be made. To prepare the plan a school must first commission an Access Audit. The plan must be published and you can ask to see it. It will outline how the school will:

  • improve the physical environment
  • make improvements in the provision of information
  • increase access to the curriculum

Schools can also increase access for individual pupils by making ‘reasonable adjustments’. These can be simple changes such as making sure that all lessons take place in ground floor classrooms for a class where one of the pupils uses a wheelchair and the school does not have a lift.

You should always talk to a school to discuss what it can reasonably do to include your child.

Improvements to the physical environment

Changes to the physical environment that a school could make to increase access might include:

  • lighting and paint schemes to help visually impaired children
  • lifts and ramps to help physically impaired children
  • carpeting and acoustic tiling of classrooms to help hearing impaired pupils

Improving the way information is delivered to pupils with disabilities

Information that is normally provided in writing (such as handouts, timetables and textbooks) can be made more accessible by providing it:

  • in Braille
  • in large print
  • on audio format
  • using a symbol system

School curriculum

Adjustments that would help children with disabilities have better access to the curriculum might include:

  • changes to teaching and learning arrangements
  • classroom organisation
  • timetabling
  • support from other pupils
  • School curriculum

Assistive technology

Technology suited to your child's needs can help them learn faster and more easily. This can increase their access to the curriculum. Examples of technology that can help include:

  • touch-screen computers, joysticks and trackerballs
  • easy-to-use keyboards
  • interactive whiteboards
  • text-to-speech software
  • Braille-translation software
  • software that connects words with pictures or symbols

Some schools may already have this technology available or may be planning to get it.

Arrangements for distributing resources and funding for equipment vary throughout the UK. If your child has a statement of special educational needs, the help that is detailed on their statement (which may include special equipment) must be provided.

School transport

While the same basic rules apply to all children, the Education Authority can decide to provide transport on a case by case basis for a child with disabilities.

Your Education Authority region office will assess your child's needs when making a decision, taking into account your child's health and/or disability. If your child is offered school transport, the vehicle should have the relevant equipment to suit your child's needs, for example, wheelchair restraints, ramps or lifts.

For more detailed information about approved transport arrangement, refer to your local Education Authority region office Transfer Booklet.

The Education Authority also provide escorts on school transport if needed. You may be able to get help with your own costs for taking your child to school. Your Education Authority region office will be able to tell you if this is possible.

If your child cannot go to school for medical reasons

If your child cannot go to school because of medical needs or health problems, the Education Authority is responsible for allowing them to continue their education. You child could get lessons in hospital, for example.

More useful links

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email LPSCustomerTeam@lpsni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.