Australian Tertiary Education Network on Disability
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Pathways banner. Pathways15 Online. Advancing Inclusion in 2020 and Beyond. Monday 30 November - Friday 4 December



Pathways15 Presentations: Tuesday 1 December

Main Session

Panel Session: How to Drive Change through Disability Action Plans

Panel Facilitator: Dr Paul Harpur, University of Queensland. Panel Members: Jodie Hoger, Teacher/Consultant for Students who are Blind or Vision Impaired, TAFE NSW, Hemant Kokularupan, Manager Student Success, Kangan Institute, Samantha Tiernan, Manager, Disability & Access, Charles Sturt University and Dagmar Kminiak, Manager, Disability Services, University of Sydney

As the numbers of students with disability in tertiary education continue to grow many tertiary education providers are using their disability action plans to not only improve participation and educational outcomes but also to create a sense of belonging. And when tertiary providers take this approach, they also improve inclusion for their staff with disability.

This panel will feature staff from TAFE and University sectors who share their experience with developing and implementing Disability Action Plans.


Stream One

TAFE Specialist Employment Partnerships (TSEP)

Pam Anderson, NDCO Program

TAFE Specialist Employment Partnerships (TSEP) is an employment service based at the TAFE campus to meet specific needs of graduating or graduate students with disability seeking employment. The service is available to all students identified as having a disability and/or who access support from the TAFE due to the impact of their disability. A number of TAFE campuses in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia are currently delivering the TSEP Program. This is an opportunity for practitioners to learn about the TSEP partnerships and benefits to assist with implementation of the program in other regions.


A Right to Learn... A Right to Earn! Inclusion of People with an Intellectual Disability in Higher Education and Employment

David Pech, Centre for Disability Studies

Should a person’s IQ determine their opportunities in life? uni 2 beyond (an initiative of the Centre for Disability Studies) has been developed and successfully implemented at the University of Sydney to empower people with intellectual disability to engage in university life and to progress from there to meaningful employment.

Launched as a pilot program in 2012, uni 2 beyond has to-date seen 50 adults with intellectual disability come to the University of Sydney to attend lectures and tutorials of their choice, join clubs and societies, and develop peer-to-peer relationships with university students. Since the beginning of 2018, uni 2 beyond has also offered a Career Advisor service, to provide advocacy and assistance to empower people with intellectual disability to reach their full career potential, with a focus on the often-neglected areas of open employment and non-traditional careers (for example, business start-ups, social enterprises, creative and performing arts).

Currently in Australia, the inclusion of people with intellectual disability into mainstream primary and secondary schooling is becoming a more common experience, however, the transition into tertiary level inclusion is a new frontier. Likewise, many workplaces remain closed to the inclusion of people with intellectual disability. uni 2 beyond is breaking down the barriers for people with intellectual disability who want to experience university life and fulfilling employment.

The presentation will include perspectives of current students and alumni. The presenters will reflect on successes to date and the gaps that still exist so that more opportunities for inclusion can become available across Australia.


Removing Barriers to Opportunity: How to Set Graduates with Disability on the Path to Employment Success

Daniel Valiente-Riedl, WorkFocus Australia

One in five Australians lives with disability, and this number is likely to grow.

Why is this important? It is because, beyond statistics, this number represents human potential that is underrepresented across our community, including workplaces.

When it comes to accomplishing typical educational and employment milestones, the gap in success rates achieved by people with disability and those without disability is striking.

Research shows people with disability are less likely to pursue University or TAFE courses, and highly likely to stay unemployed for longer than their peers without disability. National data also highlights the overall employment rate for graduates with disability is lower.

These gaps are attributed mainly to the lack of knowledge and skills among employers to hire people with disability, as well as limited early assistance to support students with disability transition into employment.

For students, University and TAFE career practitioners are one of the top sources to secure graduate roles. In many cases, career practitioners act as front-line advisers and guidance counsellors, and as such, play a vital role in bridging the gap in employment success rates for graduates with disability.

So how can career practitioners better support students with disabilities? What resources are available to them? Equally important are the support services available directly to graduates. How can they access these?

Delivered by WorkFocus Australia on behalf of the Australian Government, JobAccess is the national hub for workplace and employment information for people with disability, employers and service providers. It is designed to help people with disability get work, keep work and become more productive by removing systemic and attitudinal barriers to disability employment.

Drawing from extensive experience supporting thousands of Australians with disability, the presentation will feature practical tips and resources, illustrating how career practitioners can support students and graduates with disability transition into employment.


Making Meaningful Work Business as Usual. Strategies, Issues and Choices That Support Graduate Employment Outcomes for Students with Disability

David Eckstein, Equity Fellow – NCSEHE; Friederike Gadow, Australian National University; and, Jane Andersen, University of the Sunshine Coast

University graduates with disability are more likely to be unemployed and more likely to be in work that does not use their skills or education compared to graduates without disability (2018 Graduate Outcomes Survey). They also make up only 2 per cent of participants in employers graduate programs (AAGE, 2019). Scarce resources and service silos create barriers to remediating action (Harvey et al, 2017). The National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education funded national research to investigate these barriers and this workshop will engage participants with some of the projects key findings.

Consistent with key conference themes, presenters from Swinburne University, Australian National University and the University of the Sunshine Coast will highlight and discuss the influence of a range of local factors affecting careers support initiatives for students with disability. Participants will be guided to outline individual innovation strategies and plans that cater to their university circumstances and their students’ needs and preferences.

The workshop will focus on strategies for developing and harnessing internal and external collaboration for the benefit of students including:

  • Developing careers staff's baseline disability competencies to enhance understanding between services and reduce service-silo mindsets
  • Understanding how university careers services work, and how careers education principles can be implemented to better serve students with disability, and
  • Highlighting available resources and engaging with interested stakeholders including industry groups, external (funded) providers and other universities.

Participants will also (re)discover key benefits to a collaborative approach, including positive experiences for your students, while maximising impact and upskilling staff. The workshop is also an experiential introduction to a national community of practice that provides a safe place to discuss issues and choices, as well as open access resources.

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Stream Two

Moving from On-Campus to Online

Melissa Wortel, Griffith University

Taking an on-campus university off site and has had its fair share of challenges. With the sudden increased workload, the focus has also turned to ensuring course work and materials are accessible.

As a university we were making steady progress, getting schools on board to incorporate accessibility. In this new world, we are hurriedly trying to ensure all of our online content is accessible.

We have always striven to be proactive when catering to the needs of both current and future students, which we believe has put us in good stead for the current environment. This presentation will provide an insight into the teams we have working on captioning options for areas that were “uncaptionable”, teams working on various “how-to” documents and video, teams working on how to best support those students who need assistive technology and purpose built “COVID” teams designed to assist the Learning and Teaching community in navigating through the online environment.

We will look at the student software and hardware options we have put in place. How we have been able to facilitate our students in temporarily downloading non-purchased university software on their home machines and how we have overcome challenges around students having no or old equipment at home.

The way in which we communicate within teams and with external teams has needed to be continually adapted. There is a now a sense of urgency in getting tasks completed which has added extra pressures to staff, sometimes leading to a lack of understanding or testing before solutions are rolled out. All of this has also focused attention on building general IT skills in students, thus aiding the building of independence and resilience.


The COVID Attitude - an Exciting New Normal for Assistive Technology at Western Sydney University

Sally Leggo and Natalie McLaughlin, Western Sydney University

Discover how the small but committed Assistive Technology team at Western Sydney University used the disruption of COVID-19 as an opportunity to completely transform their services into a more flexible engagement model, delivering superior value to their clients and expanding their reach. Walk away inspired to think about Assistive Technology from a different perspective.

Assistive Technology (AT) also known as adaptive technology, refers to software or hardware whose primary purpose is to maintain or improve an individual’s functioning and independence, to facilitate participation, and to enhance overall well-being.

For many, these technologies are seen solely through the lens of disability. At Western, we know they have application for all staff and students, particularly as we adapt them to support the challenge of what is our new normal of learning and working.

The AT Team will give a brief overview of the innovations we have implemented that enabled us to expand our focus so no student is left behind, and no staff member either!

Hear more about how we tackled head-on the challenges COVID-19 placed on our service within the university, how we addressed the limitations and constrictions with an approach that resulted in positive and scalable improvements. Find out how the shift online has let us garner new collaborative relationships throughout the University and has supported the wider uptake of AT, building a more inclusive environment where disclosure of disability is not always required to receive the support needed.

Hear directly from our ˜CommunATy” of staff and student AT users as they share stories on how AT has helped them through the challenges of learning and working online.
Now, more than ever, it is essential that we’re open to new ways of thinking particularly in regard to Assistive Technologies.


Successfully Embracing the Unknown: the TAFE NSW 2020 Student Support Journey

Greg O'Connor, Texthelp and Anita Raftery, TAFE NSW

The new student year started in February 2020. 500,000 or so TAFE NSW students across the state kicked it off by attending classes side-by-side with peers, meeting in face-to-face sessions with their teachers and fearlessly shaking hands and exchanging hugs in greeting.

Then March happened! As with all TAFE colleges and universities Australia-wide, teaching, learning, training and student support literally changed over the course of one weekend! TAFE NSW delivery transformed to accommodate COVID-19 health and safety requirements.

This presentation will share the journey of TAFE NSW rapid move to supporting students studying at TAFE NSW through Connected Learning, connecting teachers and students via virtual platforms like Microsoft Teams. And the need for equally agile transitioning to remotely support students who were previously able to access support on-campus and in-person.

Learning and teaching support strategies and technologies were strengthened, changed and transformed in term 1 to meet these new unprecedented COVID-19 needs and requirements.

At the end of 2019 TAFE NSW had worked towards procuring and deploying a single organisational Read&Write software licence for all staff and students - in line with TAFE NSW commitment to the principals of UDL. Never thinking that this whole of organisation, state-wide procurement and availability would be so timely due to COVID-19. Read&Write software program from Texthelp - was made available to all staff and students state-wide, studying via connected delivery and online or on campus.

This session will explore these finding and implications for future support models moving ahead to the post-COVID training environment.

What will we keep? What have we learned? Can we deliver support services with more agility, equity and effectiveness as a result?


Using Covid-19 as an Opportunity to Change Practice and Promote a New Perspective on Assistive Technologies

Fiona Thomas, Texthelp; Sally Leggo, and Natalie McLaughlin, Western Sydney University

Western Sydney University first partnered with Texthelp to provide students with access to Read&Write in 2017. Initially, uptake was limited to staff and students with a workplace Reasonable Adjustment Plan (RAP) or Academic Integration Plan (AIP) in place. A change of perspective ensued as the broader appeal and value of this toolbar was recognised. Fast forward to 2020 with University plans to move to an inclusive environment where disclosure of disability is not a requirement to gain access to Assistive Technology (AT). Western has used the disruption of COVID-19 to re-focus resources and begin a strategic roll-out of Read&Write across the wider University (both staff and students).

We will discuss how Western has begun to build a diverse base of Assistive Technology (AT) champions and supporters amongst staff and students, getting digital accessibility and AT into the discussions of key decision makers and change agents across Western and embedding the idea of inclusion through technology in new initiatives, systems and practices. Importantly, we’ll share around the uptake and impact of these initiatives.

Participants of the session will receive a subscription to Read&Write for their own ongoing use along with a demonstration of how this toolbar can change practices promoting a greater flexibility in work, study and life balance. Participants are encouraged to engage with the Read&Write toolbar during the workshop and learn a range of strategies and ideas to consider for implementation in their individual institutions for the future.

Prior to the session attendees should download and install Read&Write via this link: text.help/fft-au

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Main Session

KEYNOTE: Accessing fulfilling careers: developing the employability of your students

Helen Cooke, MyPlus Consulting

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 (AGCAS: What happens Next? - a report on the first destinations of disabled graduates).

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, believing that their disability will rule them out of the running for graduate-level jobs. In addition, some disabled students have not immersed themselves in student life instead believing that academic achievement alone will make them employable; they therefore lack the employability skills that employers demand.

Employers look for much more than just good academics. They want rounded individuals; those who have immersed themselves in university life and taken positions of responsibility, developed leadership skills, shown initiative, etc. And 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 and it will take advice, encouragement and support from stakeholders from across the university to work together to address this.

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

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