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FASS Disability Initiative Seminar One: Working with students with disabilities Dr Leanne Dowse

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1 FASS Disability Initiative Seminar One: Working with students with disabilities Dr Leanne Dowse

2 Seminar Overview  Welcome  Legislative Context  Understanding disability: social and political context  Working with students with …  Responding to students  Support at UNSW  Next lunchtime seminar

3 Legislative Context  The University has a range of obligations under a range of Commonwealth and State Legislation, including: Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986.Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 Disability Discrimination Act 1992.Disability Discrimination Act 1992 Age Discrimination Act 2004.Age Discrimination Act 2004 NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977. United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Article 24 – Education.

4 Legislative Context, cont. Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee (2006) AVCC Guidelines relating to Students with a Disability  Provides advice on good practice - assists universities to meet the needs of students with a disability through strategies and arrangements that are appropriate to their individual circumstances.  ‘Guidelines: Learning and Teaching’ (pp. 6-7) highlights: Curricula should be inclusive and student centered, taking account of the diversity of student needs. The delivery and assessment of courses should be inclusive and enable students with a disability to demonstrate equitably the achievement of learning outcomes. Learning environments should provide opportunities for equitable participation by students with a disability.

5 Understanding disability: social and political context The social model of disability For many years, the medical model has been the dominant approach to disability. This model locates the "problem" of disability in the deviant body of the individual, rather than in society itself or in the way the deviant body is perceived. The social model challenges this. It suggests that although people have impairments, the extent and nature of the disability they experience will be the result of the degree to which society supports their social, economic and cultural participation.

6 Understanding disability: social and political context Impairment versus disability Impairment: an injury, illness or congenital condition that causes or is likely to cause a loss or difference of physiological or psychological function. Disability: the loss or limitations of opportunities to take part in society on an equal level with others due to social or environmental barriers.

7 Understanding disability: social and political context Why students with similar impairments have different needs Students with the same impairment may have very different needs, depending on the following factors:  The type or extent of their impairment. “Vision impairment", for example, describes a broad range of conditions with very different implications for the student.  The student’s previous educational experience. Some may have already developed effective study skills, while others may have only recently developed an understanding of their disability.  The nature of the study. A student with vision impairment in a science lab may have very different needs in a law lecture.  The teaching format. A student's needs will vary according to whether they are undertaking practicum work, e-learning or lab work, for example.  The level of study. Postgraduate study will require different skills than an undergraduate course.

8 Understanding disability: social and political context How much do I need to know about a student’s impairment? Impairments result from injury, illness or genetic disorders. While it's important to have some understanding of this, your concern is not with the specifics of the impairment, but with its implications for learning, and with making reasonable adjustments to teaching and support practices. Wheelchairs and guide dogs are obvious indicators, but disabilities are often "hidden" or inconspicuous. Rather than make assumptions about the impact of a student's condition on their learning, ask them what assistance or accommodations they need.

9 Working with students with …  vision impairment  hearing impairment  mental illness  learning disability  physical impairment  Aspergers syndrome

10 Students with a vision impairment Overview: There is no ‘typical’ student with a vision impairment. May be the result of a range of conditions. The impact depends on type, extent and timing of vision impairment. Students may rely on a guide dog or a white cane to assist mobility, while others have sufficient residual vision to get around independently. Students may require accommodation and assistive devices to facilitate access to education. Accommodation can range from sitting at the front of the lecture hall to using assistive technology (such as screen- magnification or screen-reading software) to enable them to read and access the internet. Tips: oPrepare as much information as possible in electronic format - this allows users to adapt the information to a format which is suitable for them. oWhen approaching students make sure to identify yourself as they might not be able to see you. oFace the class when speaking. oRead aloud information on overheads and whiteboards. oPause on important points. oModel appropriate communication for students in tutorials – use plain English and speak in a normal voice, not loudly, slowly or with exaggeration. oInform the student if you plan to use videos, slides or overheads, and discuss alternative ways of presenting the necessary information. oApproach students regularly to find out how they are going and if they are having any problems.

11 Students with a hearing impairment Overview: There is no ‘typical’ student with a hearing impairment. May be the result of a range of conditions. The impact depends on type, extent and timing of hearing loss. Students who were deaf from birth or as the result of illness in childhood may lip-read and/or use sign language (Auslan). People with profound hearing loss usually prefer to be referred to as Deaf rather than hearing impaired. They see their deafness, language (Auslan) and culture as a positive part of their identity rather than as a disability. Tips: oMake eye contact with the student before beginning a lecture/tutorial. oAllow a clear view of the speaker’s face at all times when speaking. oUse short simple sentences. oNormal delivery in a clear and natural tone, slow down a little if you normally speak fast. oWrite new terms or concepts on the board. oIf amplification is required, make sure that the lecture/tutorial room can accommodate this. oReduce background noise as much as possible. If necessary, engage the cooperation of the other students.

12 Students with a mental illness Overview: A hidden disability. Broad term that describes a range of diagnosable conditions that impair a person’s ability to think, feel and behave. E.g.: schizophrenia depression bipolar disorder post-traumatic stress disorder eating disorders anxiety May be transitory or long standing, with symptoms ranging from mild and episodic to severe and ongoing; students may require academic accommodations at some times but not at others. Tips: oSpeak to the student confidentially, in private and not in front of the class. oBe clear about what you can and can’t offer. oBe accessible to the student prior to assessment deadlines and exams when they are more likely in need of support. oHelp the student find other resources of support – raise your awareness of resources available on campus and locally. oAsk the student what support they need.

13 Students with a learning difficulty Overview: A learning difficulty is the result of a neurological disorder which causes the learner to receive and process some information inaccurately. The most common learning disability found in the tertiary environment is dyslexia. Other learning disabilities are dysgraphia and aphasia. Learning difficulties can have a significant impact on learning. Tips: oUse Plain English, short sentences, clear speech. oRevise work covered previously. oProvide a summary to put lectures into context. oBe prepared to repeat and rephrase information if necessary. oEnsure you keep the student’s attention and make sure that the environment is as distraction-free as possible. oAsk the student - they may be the best person to know what is helpful.

14 Students with a learning difficulty Dyslexia Overview: A combination of abilities and difficulties which affect the learning process in one or more of reading, spelling and writing. Accompanying weaknesses may be identified in areas including speed of processing, short-term memory, sequencing, auditory and/or visual perception, spoken language and motor skills. A student may show one or all of these indicators: A marked discrepancy between a student's oral and written ability. They may perform well in seminar groups, but find it difficult to articulate ideas in written format. Proof-reading errors, i.e. missed words, inaccurate spellings. Difficulties with grammar and punctuation. Long and/or poorly constructed sentences. Repetition of ideas. Difficulties with the structure of the piece. The order in which points are made may not seem logical or sequential. Paragraphs may seem overly long and not link to the previous or following paragraph.

15 Students with a physical impairment Overview: Physical activity and mobility may be impaired by a number of permanent or intermittent conditions such as cerebral palsy, arthritis, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease and repetitive strain injury (RSI). Physical disability may also result from vehicle or sporting accidents. Some students may suffer chronic fatigue, and others, extreme day-to- day energy fluctuations. Tips: oStudents may seek permission to tape lectures. oCopies of lecture notes and overheads may be helpful. oIf lecture/tutorial rooms are being changed, advise the student and the Disability Officer. oMaintain communication with student and invite feedback.

16 Students with Asperger’s Syndrome Overview:  An autistic spectrum disorder caused by a neurological dysfunction.  Students may have above-average intelligence, extensive factual information, advanced vocabulary in a particular topic, exceptional memories for detail, be original and creative in their thought patterns, have good attention to detail and can be very independent in their studying.  They may also exhibit the following characteristics in the learning environment: weakness in comprehension and abstract thought, problem solving, organisational skills, concept development, and making inferences and judgements. difficulty with cognitive flexibility, tending to think in a more linear way – thinking tends to be rigid, they have difficulty adapting to change or failure and do not readily learn from their mistakes. difficulty coping with change and obsessive routines. Tips: oIf possible, get to know the student’s particular needs in advance - meet them before the course starts to discuss needs. oProvide clear, detailed information (oral and written) about structure of course, practical arrangements, assessment requirements and deadlines. oBe consistent in approach and keep variations to a minimum - if a change (e.g. in timetable, room, lecturer) is inevitable, give clear, specific information as far ahead as possible e.g. around exam time. oUse clear, unambiguous language (spoken and written) and avoid or explain metaphors, irony etc and interpret what others say. Give explicit instructions and check that the student is clear about what he/she has to do.

17 Responding to students Knowing when to intervene  If you are concerned that the student is experiencing a significant degree of disability which impacts on their ability to learn and/or complete their assessments.  If a student appears depressed, expresses feelings of hopelessness or their behaviour significantly changes.  If a student’s behaviour is unacceptable.

18 Responding to students Knowing how to intervene  Speak to the student confidentially, with respect and in private – not in front of the class.  Ask the student what support they need.  Be accessible to the student prior to assessment deadlines and exams when they are more likely to ask for support.  Leave diagnosis and treatment to the appropriate professionals.  Ensure the student is aware of appropriate support available on campus.

19 Responding to students Knowing how to intervene, cont. Recognise your own limitations. If you are unable to assist a student seek advice from the University’s Student Equity and Diversity Unit. Your concern is not with the specifics of the impairment, but with its implications for learning, and with making reasonable adjustments to teaching and support practices.

20 Responding to students You Refer when:  Accurate assessment of the student’s study needs is required.  Communication breaks down.  The student’s problems goes beyond your own experience and expertise.  You are uncomfortable helping a student with an issue.  You find yourself becoming overly involved with the student.  You are worried about the person’s safety.  You are not sure.

21 Special Consideration versus Reasonable Accommodation? Special Consideration: Available to students who have been impacted by short-term events that are beyond their control and affect their performance in specific assessment task/s. Reasonable Accommodation: Available to students with a disability or ongoing medical condition who require continual support. Students are advised to register with the Equity & Diversity Unit (EADU). Registration is advisable but not obligatory. EADU can arrange accommodations such as: note taking; liaison with academic staff; exam provisions; library assistance; assistive technology; and resource material.

22 Support at UNSW Student Equity and Diversity Unit Student Equity Officer (Disability) can assist staff and students to identify and implement strategies and adjustments that can assist students to meet their goals. Tel: 9385 4734 Email: UNSW Counseling Service Provide Counselling, orientation to Uni, motivational support, personal skills development, advisory services for staff,seminars and workshops and self help resources. Tel: 9385 5418 Email:

23 Next lunchtime seminar: Curriculum and course design Thursday 23 July 1:00 – 2:00 pm Rm 211 Lunch included

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