NADP Awards 2017

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The Directors and Membership of the National Association of Disability Practitioners annually recognise two individuals who have made a positive difference to the experiences of disabled students and/or disabled staff in the post-compulsory education sector.

The Deb Viney Award

Tina Sharpe and her team

This award is given in Deb’s name to honour her major contribution to the sector. Deb Viney, who died in 2014, was one of the founders of the National Association of Disability Practitioners (then named the National Association of Disability Officers). She worked tirelessly to promote good practice in the sector and gave invaluable support to many colleagues both nationally and internationally.

This year there were several nominations for this award which were evaluated by the NADP awards committee. There was a high standard of nominees which reflects the excellent standard of work going on in our profession and we really appreciate the time taken to send in nominations.

The winner of the award this year was Tina Sharpe from De Montfort University who was nominated by Ursula Bilson.

Ursula’s nomination stated:

The response from the DAS team to the changes in DSA funding has been huge.  The Disability Advice and Support Team (DAST) under Tina Sharpe’s leadership have embraced this in a positive way.  They have anticipated well, made adequate provision and invested heavily in suitably trained and enthusiastic team members.

Tina has played a crucial role in large scale transformation projects, such as the University-wide Universal Design for Learning  (UDL) and Disability Enhancement Program (DEP); both of which  have been singled out at a national level as being sector leading.

At a time when the whole of the University (and sector) are undergoing transformation, the disability team have quietly undergone their own successful transformation with expanding  the team, adjusting roles, and adding new services to continually improve the experiences of students with disabilities.

For example in the last year alone, Tina has worked with others to create a Course Specific Intervention (CSI) whereby customized workshops and interventions are offered to a course team to aid retention and support any specific student inclusion and attainment  areas that have been highlighted.  The disability team has worked across all faculties with Mental Health Inclusion and Counseling teams at the university to progress inclusion for all.  This especially assists students with disabilities, but without labeling or singling them out. Tina has also taken a very active role in tackling issues such as counselling waiting list (due to increasing demand) to create the successful Single Point of Access (SPA)  appointment system.

In addition to all this change she has taken the lead with support for students with autism.  DMU has been the first University to work directly with Brain in Hand to offer a personalised support system for autistic students, helping to create independence and life skills for students who may otherwise struggle with adapting.  As the only University to adopt the technology as an institution, DMU students are able to work with the University while also receiving training and support from the team at Brain in Hand.  This also offers the opportunity for this program to be utilized by students with other conditions who are not likely to have this funded via DSA, such as some types of mental health conditions.

On top of all of these new initiatives Tina has also been extensively involved in bringing in house services for NMH supply and in creating a DSA-QAG accredited assessment centre as part of the DEP project.

In previous years she has also been instrumental in setting up a structure of disability support that works well for a University with nearly 25% of students registered as having a disability.  She has set up Faculty Disability Officers who are physically located in each of the University’s Faculties so that students can access support and information very easily and the staff develop course specific knowledge and relationships.

The Lifetime Achievement Award

Karen presenting the award to EA

This award is presented to a member or past-member of the National Association of Disability Practitioners or even someone outside our membership who has made a significant contribution to our sector. The person is nominated by one or more members of the Board of Directors. The NADP Awards Committee shortlist the nominees and a vote is held at our annual Strategic Planning Event.

Some previous award recipients have been…

Nasser Siabi from Microlink PC
Barbara Waters the former Chief Executive of Skill
Judith Waterfield from Plymouth University
Dave Laycock one of the founding fathers of NADP.

These are people who have made a wholesale contribution to our sector and EA Draffan who has received the award in 2017 is somebody who has dedicated her career to assisting disabled students through digital accessibility.

She started her career as a speech and language therapist and went on to work with children in schools and further and higher education and established an assistive technology centre when it was a newfangled idea, something we now take for granted. That alone made a significant contribution but EA went even further by serving on a whole variety of national and international committees and also became the UK representative of the Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe providing a strong voice from the UK on our behalf.

EA is a senior research fellow within the web and internet science group at the University of Southampton and also a member of the committee that designed the first British standard for web accessibility. That British standard was critical in those early days.

From an NADP perspective EA has been a committed and thoroughly loyal and supportive member of NADP for many years. She has presented at many of our conferences and she regularly and freely shares her knowledge and expertise with our membership via the list.

In the year 1999 a number of people trooped up to the campus of the University of Lincoln to think about setting up the National Association of Disability Officers. There were a number of presentations to the group and EA was tasked with delivering the presentation on what is a professional body and a professional association in order to start getting our minds into what kind of organisation we wanted to be. I think we can all recognise the contribution she made  right from those early days, 18 years ago, in designing and developing the organisation that we know today.