Workshops and Tutorials
A basic point is that if students are expected to prepare for tutorials, the materials must be accessible. Thus the basic tenets already set out about the presentation and timely availability of materials clearly apply. However, there may be cases where the capacity to access the preparation may be compromised even where the presentation of materials meets all the accessibility criteria, and this usually arises in relation to volume.
Some students may need adjustments to the volume of materials by provision of annotated or prioritised reading lists, or reduced / plain English questions to direct their reading. This may apply for example in relation to students with fatigue syndromes or visual impairment. A good starting point is therefore to consider what is essential and what is additional in preparing workshop activities, and to be prepared to provide guidance on directed reading to students with particular requirements.
Tutors need to ensure that disabled students are able to contribute as fully to workshop activities as non disabled students. This can be challenging and requires the tutor to specifically consider their own classroom expectations and how they might be met. Presentations, group work and discussions may all present challenges for particular disabilities and may require sensitive handling to ensure the disabled student feels included rather than exceptional. For example:
- a hearing impaired student may be excluded from a multi-person discussion because they can’t distinguish meaning when people are talking over each other. Where a student has a speech impairment or uses a signer, it may require people to give more time between points to allow meaning to be conveyed. The use of a ‘talking stick’ where only the person holding the stick is allowed to talk ,can be a simple and very effective means of creating inclusion and encourage much more structured and better debate.
- The environment may feel uncomfortable for a blind student who does not know who else in the room or how many people are contributing to the discussion. Calling a register or normalising a process of introductions at the start of a class can solve this.
- Room layout can be important – mobility and sight impairment will benefit from the same room layout and the provision of appropriate space at every class. It may be necessary to feed issues back to the Faculty Disability Contact if accessibility is an issue e.g. the doors are too narrow, the desks too low or the class too congested or poorly arranged for wheelchair access.
- Some disabilities may require adjustments to be agreed in advance, e.g. providing a pre-prepared speech to be read by another student rather than presenting, or prior circulation of a discussion paper rather than introducing a debate. Some students with very unclear speech may require a ‘translator’ to assist or make written notes which the tutor or another student could read out.
- Recording discussions on flip charts is useful as a record where note takers are not being used.
- Disclosure is an issue that needs to be sensitively handled. The student may not wish their disability to be openly known, and the tutor would need to respect this and discuss with the student how the objectives of the class can be met with the minimum disclosure.
- Where a major disability is apparent which will impact on the class dynamic, it may be advisable to set clear ground rules about mutual respect and inclusion strategies. The Faculty Academic Disability Contact would normally be able to provide advice and guidance in this area.
- Appendix 1: Undergraduate Blackboard Courses - Button Names
- Appendix 2: User agreement for audio recording of lectures on personal devices
- Appendix 3: UWE library services alternative formats: information for faculty
- Appendix 4: Duty of care - guidance notes for staff
- Appendix 5: Crisis Response Plan