At the British Council, we aim to provide inclusive education to students of all backgrounds.
Words and concepts used about disability vary enormously. Exploring the best available current definitions and beliefs around disability is an effective way to deepen our collective understanding. What follows aims to support an appropriate foundation for our work and nurture respect and inclusion.
Disability is a broad concept. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) states: 'Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.'
The UK Equality Act (2010) definition similarly states that a disability is: 'A physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.'
Impairment here means ‘a physical, mental or sensory functional limitation within the individual’. But impairment is only part of the experience of disability, which also includes: '…the loss or limitation of opportunities to take part in the normal life of the community on an equal level with others due to physical and social barriers' (Constitution of Disabled People's International,1981).
So disabled people are not 'people with impairments' but: '...people with impairments who are additionally ‘disabled’ by socially constructed barriers' (Colin Barnes, Disabled People in Britain, 1991).
These differences between disability, disabled people, and impairment are important distinctions. They underline how the physical, mental, or sensory impairments which can limit someone’s abilities, or indeed the fact of neurodiversity are different from the external conditions which can also limit them. These conditions can vary from an inaccessible office or unreadable safety notice to the attitude of someone recruiting for a job, or a line manager, or a teacher.
It’s also important to realise that impairments aren’t always obvious or physical: many are hidden or invisible. These might include mental impairments, like bipolar disorder or chronic depression, or cognitive ones like learning disabilities, or autism or dyslexia, as well as physical ones, like sickle cell anaemia, diabetes, cancer, or HIV/AIDS.
We strive for Inclusion
Please speak to our customer services team to inform us of medical needs or special educational needs that your child may have upon registration. We will ensure that we support your child appropriately and details will remain confidential.
The British Council Sri Lanka is constantly developing and adapting itself to be more accessible and accommodative to those with Special Needs.
Feedback on Special Educational Needs at the British Council
“Further as discussed, my child has shown some improvement after she started attending the program at the British Council and we are so happy.”
- Parent of a student currently studying at secondary level -