Balancing inclusive design, adjustments and personal agency: progressive mutual accommodations and the experiences of university students with vision impairment in the United Kingdom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper proposes a framework of support for reducing barriers to curriculum access for students with disabilities in higher education (HE), by drawing upon findings from a unique longitudinal qualitative study. The ‘Longitudinal Transitions Study’ commenced in 2010 and has been following the post-16 transition experiences of a group of 80 young people since they left compulsory education, 32 of whom went into HE. Interviews were conducted with participants at several key stages of their time in HE including initial application, initial transition and end of first year and at regular periods during their courses. These were supplemented by focused case study work with seven of the participants.

The analysis provides original examination of how appropriate balance can be achieved between broad inclusive practice, and individual adjustments to meet specific needs. Key curriculum access issues identified in the study are outlined with examples of how these were overcome through ‘inclusive practice’, ‘individual adjustments’ and ‘individual agency’ of the student. Drawing upon a Bioecological Model of Inclusive HE, a framework of support is proposed for achieving an appropriate balance through the notion of progressive and mutual accommodations to facilitate learning environments which enable students with disabilities to become independent learners. The paper has broader significance for educators and researchers concerned with promoting inclusive teaching in HE and ensuring equality of opportunity for all students.


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Inclusive Education
Early online date5 Jul 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Jul 2018


  • inclusive learning, visual impairment, higher education