The obstacles of being included into Adult Education for disabled learners in Estonia

Accessibility-based obstacles

Adults non-formal trainings are usually not designed for learners with visual and hearing impairment neither for people with difficulties of moving. Lot of the training rooms (we do not have exact statistical data) are not physically accessible. So – if the disabled person wants to join a training group, it often appears that the tempo of course is too fast or the teacher is not ready to duplicate written text orally or oral text in written etc. There is no requirement in the law about training rooms accessibility. Basically the offer or organizer of non-formal courses for adults can get the licence of teaching having non-accessible rooms.

Accessibility appears as massive obstacle also if blind person wants to take part on computer-based courses (with the help screen reader programme).

Beliefs and attitudes-based obstacles

Disabled people have not been deal as the target group of adult education in Estonia historically. Furthermore – people with special needs have been believed being „teach-best-separately“. These attitudes and beliefs are hardly disappearing even nowadays. It means in training market the offers of adult education do not design or focus their products to disabled people often. It is still believed that disabled adult learners take part on courses „somewhere else“ - not here and now. The situation is better in vocational and higher education system where disabled learners are playing more and more important role.

Socio-economical and regional obstacles

Social services are not equally available in all over Estonia – the situation is much better in bigger towns. For disable adults living in rural areas it means it is difficult to be included into adult education because lack of transportation services. Poverty rate is higher among of disabled adults than in all population. Economical obstacles are also affecting including disabled learners into adult education.

Anneli Habicht

The Estonian Chamber for Disabled People