Skip to main content

Special Educational Needs

Volume 458: debated on Thursday 29 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what recent representations he has received on the availability of textbooks for blind, partially sighted and dyslexic children in accessible formats; and if he will make a statement; (130337)

(2) what assessment he has made of the availability of textbooks in formats accessible to blind, partially sighted and dyslexic children;

(3) what steps he will take to improve blind, partially sighted and dyslexic children's access to books in accessible formats in the next two years.

The Department regularly discusses the provision it makes for children with special educational needs and disabilities through the SEN and disability frameworks with key stakeholders both in the voluntary sector and across Government, including support for visually impaired and dyslexic children. A central record is not kept of the approaches made to the Department on individual issues.

We continue to invest significant resources to support the education of children with SEN and disabilities—some £4.5 billion in 2006/07. It is for schools and local authorities to plan to improve access to the curriculum and written materials for disabled pupils over time and the Disability Equality Duty requires schools them to promote disability equality.

To assist the provision of materials in accessible alternative formats for blind, partially sighted and dyslexic children specifically, the Government supported the Copyright (Visually Impaired Persons) Act 2002 which reduces delays in gaining copyright clearance to produce books and other printed materials in formats accessible to visually impaired people. The Department of Trade and Industry is also working on a feasibility study to look at opportunities for publishers to provide education material in accessible formats more quickly and this Department is involved in the process.