Week 4: Wednesday 15th July

Video: Disability language is affecting our students

Lynn Wilson, Operations Manager, NADP, Disability Professional and Researcher

This presentation is based on an article written by Lynn and Professor Nicola Martin. It aims to give a brief overview of four of the most prevalent models of disability and describe how both the medical and social models relate to the variations in disability language found across the world. .

Disability, equality and inclusivity professionals have an important role to play in illustrating positive language. Often staff in these roles find themselves encouraging disabled students at a period of change in their lives when they are developing their own identity as professionals and academics. This presentation focuses on students but the points made apply equally to other disabled stakeholders including staff.

Wilson, L. & Martin, N. (2018) Models of Disability affect Language: Implications for Disability, Equality and Inclusivity Practice.  Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. Issue 10.1. pp. 4-19.

Webinar: Accessing fulfilling careers: Maximising the chances of your students transitioning into employment

Helen Cooke & Emma Knox, MyPlus

Key reasons that students go to university are that they either wish to pursue a particular career or to help them to get a better job than they would have done if they hadn’t gone. The same is true for disabled students yet it remains considerably harder for them to find employment upon graduating than for their non-disabled counterparts. Research finds that disabled graduates at all qualification levels are less likely to have obtained full-time employment than non-disabled graduates*

Not only has the Office for Students set out its approach to improve equality of opportunity for underrepresented groups to ‘’access, succeed and progress’’ from HE, the latest AGCAS research also calls for more action to ‘’remove barriers preventing disabled graduates from accessing and thriving in fulfilling careers.’’

Therefore, when talking about ‘positive outcomes for everyone – students and staff’ we have to talk about employment. For the student this is about maximising their chances of transitioning into full time employment and for institutions employability rates are just one of the key measures of success.

The reasons that disabled students find it harder to gain internships, placements and employment are many and varied including individuals lacking the confidence to apply to employers and disabled students not immersing themselves in student life and therefore lacking the employability skills that employers demand.

To develop employability skills, individuals need to immerse themselves in all aspects of university life and take positions of responsibility; develop leadership skills, show initiative, etc. This will involve students joining clubs and societies, volunteering, gaining work experience and developing the skills required to successfully navigate recruitment processes. However, if you lack confidence, combined with the added challenge of managing your disability, getting involved can seem impossible. 

To address this issue, stakeholders from across the institution must all understand the specific challenges facing disabled students as they transition from education to employment, and be in a position to support them with accurate information, expert resources and tailored advice; this includes student support staff, careers advisers and employability teams, and academic staff with a wider employability remit.

During this keynote, delegates will:

  • Understand the student voice:
    • Why disabled students are not fully immersing themselves in university life and the impact on transitioning into employment
  • Understand how best to manage student expectations:
    • By developing your own knowledge of the main concerns that disabled students have when applying for a job
  • Challenge their assumptions of what is possible for disabled students
  • Understand how you can change practice

*AGCAS: What happens Next? – a report on the first destinations of disabled graduates