Robby, MS Reporter: Are Higher Education and Further Education staff aware of how to support people with disabilities?
Robin Hodges, DSA Assessor: So you would expect that all academic staff have some degree of sort of disability awareness training. But the typical process for supporting somebody with a disability at university is for the student to initially make contact with the university’s disability support team, whatever they’re called. And then there’s a kind of an evaluatory meeting there to establish what the difficulties are, what the needs are, how those are going to be addressed by reasonable adjustments. And if there are any of these adjustments that then relate to teaching environments, and either how the tutor or lecturer is teaching, delivering information, or what the student needs to do in that environment in order to be able to access the information, these are then communicated to tutors. So common examples are students being allowed to take recordings in lectures, or lecture slides being provided in advance to a student, like questions and assignments being provided well in advance, extra contact time with tutors if it’s needed. All this sort of type of stuff. So essentially, the disability support team is the intermediatory in that process. So a student, you shouldn’t be responsible for having to try and persuade their tutor or lecturer to do something that they need them to do, that should be the disability support team that’s doing that.
Robby: Sure. I mean, does that mean that all university staff are grounded in disability awareness?
Robin Hodges: Yeah. So yeah, I mean they should, like I say, they should have some disability awareness training, but I mean I think what you find in universities generally is that because they are large enough and well-funded enough, they have these dedicated disability support teams. And then there’s the DSA that’s been around for such a long time, that a lot of academic staff are going to be just familiar through it, just through kind of, you know, the experience of teaching the students coming through who have access to this type of support. So, and some of it just kind of by osmosis of it just being there. So, yeah, there’s often a greater level of awareness amongst academic staff, I think, at universities than maybe there is earlier on in the educational process, to the degree that some students actually end up getting diagnosed with conditions because their tutors spot patterns in how they work and behaving and saying, I think you need to go and see the disability team, because you might have x.
MS Reporter: Robby
Expert: Robin Hodges, DSA Accessor and Campaigns Manager, Access 2 Learn