Istat releases the results of the survey on students with disabilities in primary and lower secondary schools (public and private) for the 2013-2014 school year.
The survey was conducted as part of a project financed by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy and in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (Miur), and its goal was to examine the resources and tools that have been adopted by single school centers to facilitate the integration of students with disabilities. The survey response rate was 85%, 21,799 schools have filled the questionnaire.
During SY 2013-2014, about 150 thousand disabled students were enrolled in compulsory education: almost 85 thousand in primary school and about 65 thousand in lower secondary school.
About 4.2% of the disabled students in primary school had vision-related disabilities, about 4.5% had hearing difficulties and about 13.7% had mobility impairments. Regional differences were reported with respect to learning and attention-deficit problems, which affected 14.6% and 14.3% of disabled students in primary school and 20.1% and 11.4% of disabled students in lower secondary school. (Table 1).
The difficulties that characterized disabled students in lower secondary school were similar to those found in primary school. Visual and hearing impairments were experienced by 3.8% and 4.4%, respectively, of students with disability, while 9.1% of disabled students faced mobility impairments. Noteworthy geographical differences were found with respect to learning and attention-deficit difficulties, with higher values detected in the South and the Islands.
The scholastic environment remained fairly inaccessible and the number of schools equipped to overcome architectural barriers appeared too low, although this area showed some improvement. Lower secondary schools seemed to offer better access for disabled students in comparison to lower order schools.
In terms of learning ability, the key professional figures were the curricular teacher and the learning-support teacher, who provide mutual support in the development of communications, relations and socialization. Other professional figures include the cultural education assistant (CEA) or personal assistant, the communications facilitator, the communicator for the deaf and the scholastic aide with the specific task of assisting disabled students.
In SY 2013-2014, the MIUR data indicated a total of about 74 thousand learning-support teachers for both scholastic orders of public schools. More than 97% of students with disability were supported in the learning activity by the learning support teacher while a percentage of students were supported in the activity of daily living by the teacher in place of others professional figures such as the cultural education assistant (CEA) or the personal assistant (2.5% of student in primary and in lower secondary schools).