Pathways15: Beyond Compliance - Innovative Approaches to Accessibility and Inclusive Education in VET
Jen Cousins, TAFE South Australia
In July 2020 TAFE SA introduced a new educational leadership role, a Teaching and Learning Specialist in Accessibility and Inclusive Education. Teaching and Learning Specialists are responsible for providing educational leadership and modelling professional practice in a range of teaching and assessment methodologies. The Accessibility and Inclusive Education Specialist is responsible for providing leadership, authoritative advice and strategic guidance on best practice in access and inclusive education across the educational programs. This includes developing the capability of TAFE SA educators to embed accessibility, usability and inclusive practices in all aspects of their delivery and assessment in an endeavour to meet national access and equity requirements, demonstrate quality practices and lead innovation.
This is a unique and emerging role within the VET Sector, a first for TAFE SA and a rare commitment seen across the VET sector. This presentation will share some of the learning that has occurred since this role was created, highlighting conceptual frameworks, critical thinking, and challenges in the initial development of this role. It will showcase the intersection with other initiatives and strategies across the organisation and sector such as Disability Access and Inclusions Plans, Disability Services and Supports, policy and procedures, and professional learning. It will highlight the need to work in partnership with disability and equity services and educators to embed access, inclusion and universal design as a benchmark beyond compliance, to create quality and innovative educational practice.
Jen Cousins has extensive experience and qualifications as a developmental educator, disability advocate, and VET practitioner. Within TAFE SA Jen has worked as Senior Consultant of Educator Practice, Principal/Lecturer in Community Services and Health, the National Disability Coordination Officer, and is currently the Teaching and Learning Specialist in Accessibility and Inclusive Education. Jen holds a Masters of Adult, Vocational and Workplace Education, a Bachelor of Laws, and a Bachelor of Applied Science (Disability Studies-Honours) and has been involved in a range of national projects that endeavour to increase awareness of the rights of students with disability in VET and to build educator capability.