Library Policy & strategy Student support

Well, what do you know?

Using simple survey tools to measure your progress in meeting the needs of disabled learners.

One of the joys of this work is the privilege of working with a wide range of customers in different institutions and helping to meet their specific needs. However, the specific needs of one organisation sometimes end up being very similar to the specific needs of another. As we support one organisation we often find ourselves creating guidance and training resources that are valuable to others.

Recently I’ve been supporting providers in preparing for changes to the Disabled Student Allowance (DSA). We’ve been creating some baseline surveys so they can know what their starting point was in ‘mainstreaming inclusion’. That way they will be able to measure progress in a meaningful way. One of the actions the government ‘will consider’ in their response to the DSA consultation was to ‘identify and baseline what disabled students could expect as a minimum level of provision; and encourage HE providers to publish data on their provision for disabled students

That could take some time and may not include some of the very practical tools and solutions we are providing to support learners. So have a go at our questions if you want to

  1. See how your provision compares against other organisations
  2. Get a starting point for doing your own surveys with your staff or students.

Here are our surveys and some of the background thinking behind them.

The survey for disability support teams

Disability support staff may have considerable expertise at working one to one with learners or supporting them in the use of one or two key assistive technology tools. But how confident are they at using everyday technologies to help learners support themselves? Or how confidently could they advise teaching staff on good accessibility practices with technology?

We ran this past an experienced disability support team of 21 staff at a big regional university and found more than 50% of staff were ‘Not at all confident’ across many of the technologies they could – potentially – be recommending to students with similar results for the accessibility practices they might recommend to staff. This allowed us to directly tailor a training session to open them up to new possibilities – a session that created a real buzz of excitement because so much of this can be done so easily and the positive impacts on learners can be immediate.

A survey for learners and staff

In preparation for DSA changes we’ve worked with the University of Kent to create a baseline survey of student awareness of accessibility and alternative formats as well as their satisfaction levels. By combining this with a similar survey for staff the responses can help identify priorities in terms of technology availability and staff/student awareness raising. Jisc has a range of training resources available to support staff or students accessing assistive technologies (rebranded as productivity tools!). You can see the survey questions and if you like them contact Alistair via his Jisc page and he’ll share an editable copy with you for you to adapt for your own students.

Critical in all of this is the desire to demonstrate progress. Roughly speaking ten percent of your learners will have access needs but a further ten percent at least could benefit from the productivity gains afforded by many of these tools. Some simple free survey tools could help raise awareness, direct priorities and evidence progress. What is not to like about that?

If you’d like us to work with you on some survey templates then get in touch!


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