Australian Tertiary Education Network on Disability

Pathways banner. Pathways15 Online. Advancing Inclusion in 2020 and Beyond. Monday 30 November - Friday 4 December

Pathways15 Presentations: Monday 30 November

Main Session

KEYNOTE: How to Talk to Colleagues about Universal Design for Learning

Dr Thomas Tobin, University of Wisconsin - Madison

As Disability Practitioners and Educators in Vocational Education and Training and Universities, we should advocate for our colleagues around us to design their interactions with students to be as broadly accessible and inclusive as possible, in order to foster greater student agency, autonomy, and satisfaction. In the process, our work to support learners in addressing disability barriers can shift to focus more energy on more challenging concerns.

This advocacy starts with institutional leaders who can direct funds, resources, and time toward inclusive-design efforts. This keynote will share concrete strategies for how to talk with your leaders to get them to see the positive impact of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) on campus operations (and on the budget), especially during times of disruption from fires, displacement, and COVID-19. By attending this keynote presentation, you will be able to

  • frame the principles of UDL within the access needs of all students at your institution;
  • talk with your leadership colleagues about specific campus-wide efforts that lower barriers, reduce costs, and
  • increase student persistence and retention rates; and
  • advocate for inclusive design efforts from your teaching and support-staff colleagues that increase student agency, autonomy, and satisfaction.

Stream One

Teach me how to fish please: What’s Reasonable about Reasonable Adjustments - doing with rather than doing for

Julie Kiroluch and Anthony Gartner, La Trobe University

Sometimes with the best of intentions, we make assumptions about what other people are capable of, and we inadvertently project and impose limitations on their possibilities. We thus influence and shape the stories that script their lives and resultant actions.

We do this in three ways:

  1. Under the banner of the Disability Standards for Education, we foster a culture of service, of doing for rather than doing with;
  2. We make decisions on students’ behalf as to what they need to be successful; and thus,
  3. We can inadvertently project our own limiting expectations and beliefs upon students.

With care and best intentions, we lovingly use ‘reasonable adjustments’ to set students up for short and mid-term success in tertiary education. In doing so, however, we can inadvertently set them up for potential long-term disappointment and ongoing frustration. We must encourage, equip and resource students to act and participate in their education independently and to the maximum of their capacity to do so. Only then will their opportunities for inclusion and participation, in study and in life, be optimised.

Historically, when a student can’t write, can’t concentrate, can’t hear or see, we put a notetaker in the lecture or workshop and provide the student with a set of notes summarising the learning content. We have considered this as part of a negotiated and agreed set of ‘reasonable’ adjustments enabling participation on an equal basis. Anthony and Julie will discuss attempts to withdraw notetaking services from twenty-five students and transition them to the use of assistive technology software to encourage independent learning. What happens when our own beliefs about what constitutes a quality service are challenged?

What objections are likely to be made?

  • A student is entitled to a set of accessible notes covering the lecture content
  • The technology won’t work for them
  •  It will be harder for them to participate, and they are already disadvantaged enough
  • It will negatively affect their grades
  • If the principles of Universal Design were truly implemented this would be unnecessary
  • It’s contrary to the principles enshrined in the Disability Standards for Education
  • It’s a move that is driven by budget constraints, not in the best interests of students
  • Talk of independent learning and empowerment is just bs spin to cover a financial problem
  • We will be offering an inferior service and our students will FAIL

But, what are the potential benefits?

  • Students can operate independently, and are not reliant on others
  • Students are more engaged in the act of learning and therefore likely to learn better and retain more information
  • After graduation, students are better able to apply for and retain employment because they have been equipped with the skills that make them more able to participate in the workplace on an equal basis

Julie and Anthony will discuss the personal challenges they encountered through the rolling out of assistive technology to replace human intervention at La Trobe University. We will highlight some of the belief systems that got in the way, the opportunities we found to overcome them, and the outcomes as reported by students. Ultimately, we will discuss the fundamental mind shift that necessarily occurred for us as practitioners during this process.

Is this Request Reasonable?

Lee Papworth, University of Melbourne

Our lives and the way we deliver education are becoming more complex. This makes adjustments more complex too. While disability and equity practitioners most often find ourselves advocating for reasonable adjustments with teaching staff, sometimes we need to say no. How do we determine what is reasonable?

When Peer Notes Fail to Meet the Grade: Using Note Taking Technology to Improve Student Outcomes

Lee Chambers, Sonocent and Jim Sprialis, Sprialis Consulting

Do peer notes truly provide equitable, helpful notes?

Can note taking technology do more to be a learning investment for students?

In 2020, we started asking these questions and more of international Disability Support Services professionals. Representing over 100 colleges, 43.4% offered peer notes as their primary note taking accommodation with 41.8% preferring AT. Regardless, more than 60% of all institutions wanted to reduce their reliance on peer note takers for the simple reason that:

“Students with disabilities need the opportunity to take notes independently and in a way that is most effective for their learning experience”
- Assistant Director of Disability Services, Washington DC

45.8% of over 200 individual respondents believed improving students’ ability to learn and study should be the main goal of an accommodation; but, in practice, the majority disagreed that peer notes achieved this. Accommodations should enable students to reach their full potential regardless of the challenges they face — increasing attainment and, ultimately, levelling retention and persistence.

This presentation will review how Australian and North American institutions have found success with Glean: our new note taking technology invested in the learning process.

Glean follows the principles of Universal Design for Learning to improve study skills and productivity by setting out to tackle the barriers in class that make learning harder regardless of your ability. Students reap the benefits, one success story showing an improvement in grades from a C- to A+.

As part of our overview we will hear from students and colleges using Glean and outline:

  • How Glean tackles the issues of passive learning, sustained concentration and time management;
  • How Glean has been designed to enable students to capture, review, organize and use information as part of a learning process;
  • How Glean overcomes the challenges to easy student adoption with ongoing support.

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Stream Two

Can Making Change Be as Easy as ABC?

Deb Hindle, University of Tasmania

An easy way for creating wellbeing habits that stick. Most of us find making positive changes in our lives to be harder than it looks. It might be exercising more, being more organised, less stressed, taking up yoga or some other activities to look after our wellbeing. We can often start off with lots of enthusiasm and hopes, and then despite our best intentions our efforts gradually dwindle and then peter out. Not only can it be frustrating when we fail but we can fall into the trap of thinking that it’s all our fault. We’re just not good at making changes “we don’t have the willpower, time or energy that it takes”. But what if it’s nothing to do with our shortcomings or how busy we are, but it’s the way we’re designing our changes?

Is there an easier and more effective way to design change?

The Behaviour Design approach by BJ Fogg (from Stanford University) gives an evidence-based and simple process to make change easy. Tiny habits can help us be more successful and feel good along the way.

This workshop will give you an opportunity to:

  • Hear how to avoid the three most common mistakes made with creating personal change
  • Understand some simple science behind the actions we take
  • Recognise how starting tiny by creating Tiny Habits builds the success that leads to bigger change
  • Use the ABC recipe a for creating new habits

Creating habits that we’re likely to do even on our hardest days “the days when we feel at our most busiest, unmotivated and imperfect“ can help us be more successful in applying the health and wellbeing strategies we need to care for ourselves and others.

Accidental Counsellor: an In-House Developed Workshop for TAFE Queensland

Brandon Taylor, TAFE Queensland

In 2018 Student Support Disability Officers and Counsellors at TAFE Queensland Brisbane region met to discuss their observations regarding the increasing prevalence of mental ill health in the student population and the effects on individual students’ participation. Critically, observations also identified impacts within the wider classroom, affecting the training environment, teaching & delivery and the subsequent influences on educators and their personal mental health and wellbeing.

Discussions within the Student Support team identified a need for specific training that would provide educators with practical strategies, skills and knowledge to support those students experiencing mental ill health and the educators own practice. Research identified various external training packages related to mental health and wellbeing, Mental Health First Aid and numerous online short-courses. However, it was felt that the skills, knowledge and capacity existed within the organisation to develop an in-house training product that would meet the specific needs and context of TAFE Queensland educators.

An in-house workshop was developed by the Student Support team in consultation with organisational Human Resources, Workplace Health & Safety and Educator Capability teams. The resulting workshop was further developed to provide training for all TAFE Queensland Services staff (e.g. Faculty administration, Customer Services, Libraries staff and organisation wide non-educator roles).

Initial attendee feedback was extremely positive and subsequently further requests to roll-out the workshop to teams across the Brisbane region followed. With continuing positive feedback the workshop is now part of a state-wide strategy that includes train-the-trainer to increase participation, skills and knowledge across TAFE Queensland.
The presentation will give an overview of this journey, the challenges, solutions, content and delivery of the workshop including statistics highlighting the feedback to date 2019-20.

Social Eyes - Autism, Social Interaction and Inclusion in the VET, Higher and Tertiary Education Sectors

Elaine Hatfield-White, US - Understanding Social Skills

SocialEyes is a resource developed by The National Autistic Society, London in 2010. It was developed with and by people with autism alongside leading professionals in the field to facilitate social skills and social understanding with people on the autism spectrum. All resources have been extensively piloted and re-piloted with ongoing development and research since 2005.

SocialEyes will not ask people with autism spectrum to change or to acquire social skills by copying the ‘typical’ behaviour of others. The program provides people with the option of learning social interaction skills or alternative social strategies by enabling them to focus on the unwritten rules of social behaviour.

SocialEyes uses filmed social scenarios to for video-modelling and to analyse the unwritten rules of social behaviour in detail

Following a 2018 pilot group study of SocialEyes in Perth, W.A., the films were updated in 2019 and co-produced with an Australian cast and crew, 83% of whom have autism. The program is now run here in Australia and people can currently access this in Perth through NDIS funding.

The aim of this presentation is to bring the SocialEyes program to a wider audience, increase audience awareness of the difficulties people with autism experience in educational, work and social settings and to celebrate the unique strengths that people can demonstrate given tailored support such as a mentoring program.

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Main Session

KEYNOTE: Digital Accessibility and a Global Inclusive Education Standard

Karen McCall, Karlen Communications

The biggest lesson we can take from the current pandemic is that due to inattention to accessibility and inclusion, many of the world’s one billion plus persons with disabilities will be left behind and unable to reach their potential or strive toward economic independence. Both education and employment are pillars of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Globally, despite siren calls from disability advocates, persons with disabilities and educators to address accessibility and inclusion in a digital ecosystem, little attention, if any, has been paid to the need.

Additionally, if one looks at the international stage and the motivation to reach goal 4.5 of the Sustainable Development Goals, no one is defining inclusive education in the same way. And those of us with disabilities are not at the table, nor are our voices being heard. Among the countries that have ratified the convention on the Rights of Disabilities and those striving toward the Sustainable Development Goals, there needs to be agreement on a Global Inclusive Education Standard that provides a baseline that addresses the disconnect between being accommodated for and included in our own education. This session explores the difference and strategies for moving the standard forward.

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