Students with a disability across the UK, and globally, were already facing challenges at universities, regardless of the pandemic. According to a June 2020 report by the UK Office for Students, 14.3% of students attending university have at least one disability such as vision impairment, mobility, or a learning disability, among others.
Even before COVID-19, the UK Office f0r Students reports that:
…there were already clear attainment and outcome gaps between disabled and non-disabled students; students reporting a disability have lower degree results overall and lower rates of employment after graduation than non-disabled students. In the 2019 National Student Survey, disabled students also reported lower satisfaction with the management and organisation of their courses than non-disabled students.
While a student with mobility issues can now easily have access to online learning, those who experience sensory overload may be hindered by the excess of online resources and education. Additionally, accessibility staff at many UK universities have been furloughed or required to work from home delaying disability applications and adjustments for students only heightening the anxiety of disabled students during an uncertain time.
What can higher education institutions do to help their disabled students?
- Many disabled students face financial strains only compounded by COVID-19. Check with your disabled students about adapted furniture and technology that your university can provide at no additional cost to the student;
- Connect with your campus mental health professionals to connect them to students in need of mental health support;
- Ensure that disabled students have a note-taker, access to subtitled recordings, access to course materials in the event of a delay, or be provided transcripts of a pre-recorded lecture;
- Check in with your students and update their disability services needs as they may have changed and are no longer adequate;
- Connect with your campus partners to ensure that all classes are being provided with digital accessibility to ensure resources are available to all students; and
- For students deaf or hard of hearing, assign each student an interpreter and provide remote interpreting in lectures, group meetings, webinars, tutorials, etc.
With Symplicity Access, educational institutions can effectively help with all of the necessary services students with disabilities and learning difficulties need on a fully new level. With our user-friendly platform, universities are able to simplify the delivery of reasonable adjustments to disabled students for a better user experience, higher accountability, compliance and transparency across the institution plus increased operational efficiency and savings for the university. Additionally, through its intuitive, mobile-friendly student interface, it’s easy for disabled students to find how they can get the support they need. This allows for effective communication among students, teachers, staff, and family members to ensure that disabled students whose academic coursework has been impacted by COVID-19 can get the critical support they need to succeed academically and beyond.
For more information about how over 200 universities worldwide are virtualizing student services with Symplicity Access, email firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule a conversation.