Australian Tertiary Education Network on Disability

Pathways15: 2020 A Space Odyssey: Exploring Unchartered Territories in the VET Sector

Penny McCulloch and Sheena Cranwell, TAFE Queensland

This presentation is intended to provide an insight into innovative practices developed by TAFE Queensland AccessAbility Officers [TQ ASOs] to ensure accessible delivery for students within the vocational training environment.

Our focus has always been on reducing barriers and ensuring inclusion for all students more especially those with identified support needs. Reasonable adjustments and supports are put in place for the duration of a student’s study through an Access Ability Plan. This involves a collaborative process between students, TQ ASOs, and teachers, designed to provide the very best possible training outcome for the student.

With the shift to the online delivery of courses, there were a few obvious challenges. Vocational training focusses on students building practical skills. This usually requires a hands-on classroom with a purpose-built environment, reflective of industry standards. How could this be translated into an online environment without compromising the training packages and outcomes for students? How could we ensure that all students would continue to engage, participate, and learn?

With ASOs conscious of the need to soften the blow for students in times of uncertainty, we hit the ground running. Changes in delivery have created opportunities to explore new ways of learning, collaboration, networking between students, educators, and support teams.

Presenters will share insight into various approaches to working in the online space with some light-hearted examples that many will relate to. You know the stories of students using a bedroom cupboard as study space and those embarrassing moments when your student’s brother wants to finish an argument during your AccessAbility Coaching session.

The goal to continue Good Practice in Access Ability Support was and is achievable despite evolving changes when equitable practices are key in service delivery.


Penny McCulloch is an AccessAbility Officer with TAFE Queensland. Penny has worked extensively in Australia and overseas in a number of roles in education and the private sector including educator P-12 supporting the needs of students with disabilities, advisory teacher, and education consultant. Participation in specialist projects has seen her involved in exploring state of the art assistive technology for students with disabilities as well as in the development and provision of professional development resources for educators, support staff as well as parents. She is continuing to follow her passion for inclusivity in education, this time in the adult space.

Sheena Cranwell BSW [Hon] has worked with TAFE Queensland, as an AccessAbility Officer for over four years, working with students with additional challenges in their studies. Additional professional experience includes Student Support at the University of Queensland, Research into the lived experience of Disability in several projects with Griffith University and the Health/Child Safety Sector. Her passion for Equitable Accessibility for all students comes from the background of being a parent and an individual who faced similar challenges, those impacted by disability may experience within an educational environment.