An exploratory case study of the experiences of students with disabilities at a TVET college : factors that facilitate or impede their access and success.
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This exploratory case study was aimed at investigating the experiences of students with disabilities at a Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College, and in particular factors that facilitate or impede their access and success. The case comprised a group of six students with physical and/or visual impairments. The study was framed within a social model of disability and an inclusive approach to education. A qualitative research methodology was utilized within a critical paradigm. Interviews, life histories, mapping and transect walks were used as methods of collecting data and to gain a better understanding of the case. Thematic content analysis was undertaken to identify and record themes within the data. This revealed implicit and explicit ideas within the data. The main findings were organized into three emergent themes of othering, academic ableism and poverty which were constituted by several minor themes. The study found that students’ personal attitudes such as self-determination, self-advocacy, being positive and intrinsic motivation were good enablers for learning whilst parental and lecturer support was also found to facilitate success. Physical, economic, social and epistemic barriers hindered access and success. These findings were illustrative of forms of oppression and marginalization of an ableist TVET College. Students with disabilities were expected to learn like their able-bodied peers without assistive devices. The environment also prevented them from getting around and gaining access into buildings. There were constructions of students with impairments as “other.” They were devalued and disempowered. Participants identified negative attitudes of peers as the greatest barrier to their learning experiences. The study recommends that the TVET college implement inclusive education through the provision of accessible materials, funding, lecturer training, accessible buildings, flexible curriculum, providing resources and developing inclusive attitudes among both staff and students.