How COVID-19 is Highlighting the Needs of Disabled Students in the UK

As UK universities went into lockdown in the outset of COVID-19, UK Universities scrambled to provide students with a way to study and engage away from campus by utilising technology for remote learning. Now, nearly six months into the new normal of remote learning, it is becoming evident that universities have the capacity to offer students adjustments for health-related reasons. Yet, for disabled students, the knowledge that universities can, and should, offer online resources and flexibility is not news to them. The flexibility of online learning and support is something disabled students have been advocating for long before the pandemic.

A report by the UK House of Commons found that, “disabled students in higher education have somewhat worse outcomes from higher education than non-disabled students. Disabled students are more likely to drop out of courses and those that finish their degree tend to have lower degree results.” Yet, UK universities are legally required to offer “reasonable adjustments” to ensure that disabled students are not put at a disadvantage due to the lack of accessibility. Writing for the Times of Higher Ed in July, Stephen Campbell, a dyslexia and disability coordinator at Leeds Trinity University wrote, “Disability activists have historically fought to remove attitudinal and institutional barriers that serve to prevent full inclusion and access to society for disabled people.”

For students who have sought adjustments due to a disability, the idea that suddenly courses and services away from campus are all available, come as a surprise to disabled students who have had to drop out of university due to the inflexibility of adjustments that are now readily available. Those in higher education are thus positioned to re-evaluate what an accessible campus looks like for disabled students and how the adjustments currently underway in response to COVID-19 should become part of inclusive best practices from here on out, even once campus life returns back to normal.

With Symplicity Access, educational institutions can effectively help provide services for students with disabilities and learning difficulties to a fully new level. Our user-friendly platform simplifies services 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. 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 get the critical support they need to ensure they succeed academically and beyond.

For more information about how over 200 universities worldwide are virtualizing student services with Access, email or schedule a conversation.

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