Identification of special educational needs - Iceland
Early years education
Most children with severe disabilities are identified at pre-school age (0–5 years of age) by medical personnel, health visitors or pre-school teachers. They are then generally referred to the State Diagnostic and Advisory Centre for a medical examination, psychological assessment and evaluation by social workers as well as physical and occupational therapists. The Icelandic Low Vision and Rehabilitation Centre, which is a central agency monitoring all blind and visually impaired persons in the country, is responsible for the diagnosis of blind and visually impaired children. A corresponding facility, the National Hearing and Speech Centre, exists for deaf and hearing impaired children and adults. Children and adolescents with serious emotional and psychiatric problems are referred to the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Unit of the National Hospital for diagnosis and treatment.
Children with suspected disabilities at pre-school can be referred by pre-school teachers for diagnosis to the specialist services operated by social departments of the municipalities.
The law concerning compulsory education underlines the right of every child to receive appropriate education in a school nearest to his or her home. However, parents have the right to apply for a special school for their child should the mainstream school fail to provide education suited to his or her needs.
Decisions as to who is eligible for education at a segregated facility are, in the case of pupils at the compulsory level, reached in consultation between head teachers and their special educators, parents and local specialist services or other specialists. At the compulsory level special educators and guidance counsellors located in schools provide counselling to their fellow teachers and parents. Pupils can also be referred by teachers and parents to the compulsory school specialist services of the local municipalities. In addition the law provides for the establishment of a so-called pupil protection committee in each school for the purpose of improving the collaboration of professionals dealing with individual pupils with special needs. These can include head of school, school guidance counsellors and professionals from health services and local education offices.
Upper secondary school
No specialist service is operated for the upper secondary schools on an area basis, but guidance counsellors employed by the schools deal with learning and personal problems presented by individual pupils. For more complicated matters they direct pupils to specialised evaluation and services outside the school.
Any diagnosis conducted at one school is not automatically transferred to the next and it is the parents who decide what is in the best interests of the pupil concerning that issue.
At university level, guidance counsellors diagnose and help individual students asking for assistance. At the University of Iceland, the counselling centre, run by guidance counsellors, also seeks to gain overview of the number and kinds of disabilities among the student body.
Law for Communication centre for deaf and hearing impaired nr. 1990/129.
The Universities Act No 63/2006
Last modified Mar 26, 2010