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What are the impacts of approaches to increase the accessibility to education for people with a disability across developed and developing countries and what is known about the cost-effectiveness of different approaches?

What do we want to know?

We want to map existing evidence that provides information about the impact of initiatives that provide education for children with disabilities. We also want to identify any studies that provide an analysis about the cost-effectiveness of existing initiatives.

Who wants to know and why?

Potential users of this study include policy makers who aim to deepen and strengthen their programmes and funding. This study presents a picture of the types of evidence that exist, but also identifies avenues for further analysis that can be pursued according to the priorities of various stakeholders. This study can also be used by researchers working in the field of education for children with disabilities and/or impact evaluations, for example to assist practitioners in determining the impact of their interventions. Finally, it is hoped that the review may also provide information to parents of children with disabilities and the children themselves.

What did we find?

A majority of the studies were carried out in higher-income countries (mostly North America and the UK). Moreover, a large proportion of the studies focused on intellectual disabilities and autism. The nature of the studies was often based on testing of cognitive/metacognitive techniques that aimed to improve classroom outcomes (especially related to reading skills). Finally, although some studies provided estimates of the expenditures, we did not identify any cost-analyses that compare various approaches to educating children with disabilities.

What are the implications?

Firstly, the geography of policy and programming dynamics are extremely different in high, middle- or low-income countries. Secondly, it is evident that the typology of disability needs to be determined in order to define appropriate interventions.

Thirdly, there is a need to strengthen mechanisms for evaluating impact of interventions beyond the achievement of learning outcomes. Finally, the majority of studies did not provide discussions that feed into policy considerations. The question of approaches to increase the access to education of children with disabilities needs to be more specific, for example, or cover more of the key approaches (inclusive education, special needs education etc.) in order to carry out a more targeted and in-depth analysis.

How did we get these results?

Ten databases were keyword searched for academic resources. Studies published between January 2000 and January 2012 were included. This yielded a body of evidence of 2044 articles that were screened on title and abstract. After full-text screening, 100 studies were retained for the keywording phase: 11 were unavailable and 89 were profiled; these consisted of 14 reviews and 75 studies. Our review also carried out a first screening of the grey literature by identifying 19 potential websites and doing various word searches on these (3,900 documents were identified). We make recommendations on how to move forward to screen this diverse body of literature in follow-up reviews.

This report should be cited as:
Bakhshi P, Kett M, Oliver K (2013) What are the impacts of approaches to increase the accessibility to education for people with a disability across developed and developing countries and what is known about the cost-effectiveness of different approaches? London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.

ISBN: 978-1-907345-56-2

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