Winter 2017

Issue 9.1 Winter 2017

Editorial

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Lynn Wilson

Operations Manager, National Association of Disability Practitioners Ltd.

This edition of the Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education brings together a range of articles from academics, researchers and from disability and inclusivity practitioners. I would like to thank everyone who submitted an article for publication and encourage all our readers to write up their research and experiences from their own area of practice.

We have been going through a time of change in our professional field since the first announcement of changes to the funding of Disabled Students Allowances (Willets, 2014). The changes were initially happening so rapidly that people did not have time to fully adapt to new ways of working before they needed to change again. One of the most challenging parts of uncertainty is the inability to plan and the feeling of being out of control. However, the Government emphasis on promoting inclusive practice has provided a lead and the NADP Annual Conference in 2017 illustrated how some of our institutions followed this lead to tackle change and embed good practice. Some of the articles in this journal are in-depth discussions of presentations originally given at the Annual Conference and I hope that this journal will enable a wider audience to experience some of the knowledge imparted in the workshops and lectures.  

I was honoured to be asked to be editor for the current edition of JIPFHE and the process has given me the opportunity to read through all the articles in detail and consider them carefully. It is clear that the majority of them emphasise the need for ‘buy-in’ at all levels of our institutions: everybody from senior leadership, through academic and professional staff to the students themselves are needed in order for projects to be successful.

We start this edition with a paper which has been written by Wilson and Martin. This paper was originally based on a timeline of support for disabled students in England drawn up as part of a bid for research funding in 2016. Once written, it was realised that this could be useful information for members and disability researchers so this article was developed for the Journal. We would like to ask for member-input in order to develop the history section into a timeline for disability support throughout the UK. Please contact the NADP office if you have information that you believe would be useful to include in this timeline. Our conclusion firmly identifies input from all sectors of the HEI to be a key factor in the success of disability support.

Our second paper by Draffan, James and Martin reviews the Disabled Students Sector Leadership Group’s Report and also highlights this need for ‘buy-in’. They particularly emphasise the need for a baseline of sector-wide agreement on minimum expectations for inclusive support with a fair degree of flexibility to adapt to the needs of students.

Holtam and McLaren discuss the setting up of a network of assistive technology specialists with the challenges they face; once again highlighting the support AT specialists need from senior leadership as well as from their peers in order to be a driving force in the movement to inclusive practice.

Newman and Conway continue to illustrate the need for support from both participants and senior management in order to produce successful inclusivity projects. Of particular interest to me were their conclusions that a joined up approach to inclusivity which covers all areas of disability, gender and race etc. may result in measures that may disadvantage disabled students. This was food-for-thought for me as my own opinion was that we are in danger of designing programmes that may be siloed to inclusion for disability and, if we do this, we may have to return to the drawing board to redesign for other protected characteristics in the future.

Moving away from the broader application of inclusivity projects, Walker and Whittles critically discuss the implementation of lecture capture to aid inclusivity at their university; highlighting gaps in initial provision and suggesting that using universal design prinicples may have placed disabled access more centrally in the project plans. They also highlight the concerns that a technology that has been in existence for several years still has not addressed inclusion issues such as capturing BSL interpretation. As an alternative, Wald and Li demonstrate a system where speech recognition is used to capture lectures and students collaboratively correct errors thus aiding their own learning and providing accurate information for their fellow students.

Santulli and Scagnelli present their findings on another intervention that has been used with both dyslexic and neurotypical readers. They describe the implementation of SuperReading as a strategic approach to improve reading speed and comprehension and report very encouraging results with both categories of readers. They plan to carry out further research to examine differences in reading patterns after intervention.

In our final article in part one, Waywell raises concerns about the understanding of the role of the learning support assistant. This is a very small study but it actually mirrors results that I found in my own research in 2011 situated at a different university. These two small research projects suggest that there is a need for further investigation and a determination of clear procedures for communication across institutions.  

Part two of the journal contains narrative articles that are written by disability and inclusivity staff who critically reflect on their current practice. Our first article also returns to our theme where there is a need for all staff to ‘buy-in’ to inclusive support for it to be effective. Brady and Flegg describe the interdependent activities of staff seeking to promote and support inclusive practice and disability staff seeking to improve reasonable adjustments. In this case senior-staff support and a raised profile of disability professionals are giving focus to the needs of disabled students.

Our final article for this journal describes the start of a qualitative research project to ensure that day to day practice is based on sound research. A really important principle which shines through so many articles in this edition of the journal. Faithful and Atherton describe their planned research with Jack, a learning assistance dog, who works full time within the learning support department. A lot of anecdotal evidence for a beneficial effect has arisen from the sessions that are offered to students and the literature tends to back up this evidence but it has also been accused of being a gimmick and so the team intend to qualitatively explore this type of canine support and, if beneficial, the most effective way to use this support with students.

We finish with two reviews of recent publications which, I am sure, will encourage all readers to access these valuable resources.

The demand for innovation in the workplace has grown tremendously in recent times. The articles in this edition of the journal show that, in response, we have become increasingly creative and flexible in our working practice. I believe that it is crucial that we have a strong focus on maintaining the quality of provision during this change process and it is heartening to read that so many of our colleagues are working hard to ensure this quality.

References

Department for Education (2017) Inclusive teaching and learning in higher education as a route to excellence. London: DfE.

Willetts, D. (2014) Higher Education: Student Support: Changes to Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA). Written statement to parliament 7th April 2014. https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/higher-education-student-support-changes-to-disabled-students-allowances-dsa%20 [Accessed 19th October 2017]

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Articles

Wilson, L. & Martin, N. (2017) Disabled Student Support for England in 2017. How did we get here and where are we going? A brief history, commentary on current context and reflection on possible future directions. Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. Issue 9.1. pp. 6-22. Word Download

Draffan, E.A., James, A., & Martin, N. (2017) Inclusive Teaching and Learning: What’s Next? Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. Issue 9.1. pp. 23-34. Word Download

Holtam, G. & Mclaren, R. (2017) Perspectives, Challenges and Opportunities: the Role of Assistive Technology Specialists within Universities in England. Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. Issue 9.1. pp. 35-43. Word Download

Newman, I. & Conway, J. (2017) Sisyphus vs Hercules: A Year in the Life of Implementing HEI Inclusivity Projects. Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. Issue 9.1. pp. 44-62. Word Download

Walker, R. & Whittles, R. (2017) Lecture Capture for Disabled Students: Asset or additional hurdle? Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. Issue 9.1. pp. 63-76. Word Download

Wald, M. & Li, Y. (2017) Inclusively Enhancing Learning from Lecture Recordings. Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. Issue 9.1. pp. 77-87. Word Download

Santulli, F. & Scagnelli, M. (2017) The Improvement of Silent Reading Strategies through SuperReading. Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. Issue 9.1. pp. 88-100. Word Download

Waywell, H. (2017) An investigation into Academic staff perceptions of the dynamics and relationship with the learning support assistant. Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. Issue 9.1. pp. 101-113. Word Download

Brady, J. & Flegg, C. (2017) It’s Just Good Practice Isn’t It? Reflections on the Journey Away from Disabled Students’ Allowances at the University of Leeds. Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. Issue 9.1. pp. 114-131. Word Download

Faithful, J. & Atherton, C. (2017) Canine Assisted Learning: Exploring Perceptions of Disabled University Students. Is there Really a ‘Jack Effect’? Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. Issue 9.1. pp. 132-137. Word Download

Martin, N. (2017) Book Review: Justice for Laughing Boy: Connor Sparrowhawk – A Death by Indifference. Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. Issue 9.1. pp. 138-145. Word Download

Article Review: Encouraging disabled leaders in higher education: recognising hidden talents. Review by Nick Chown Word Download

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