As the UK continues with its second lockdown phasing, it’s important to not forget the disabled community (13.7 million disabled people in Great Britain alone according to the latest available estimates) that continues to still need additional support. A July 2020 United Kingdom’s government report found that disabled people were disproportionally impacted by the impacts of COVID-19 at a larger percentage than non-disabled individuals.
Some key highlights in the report include:
- In July 2020, around three-quarters of disabled people (75%) reported they were “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about the effect that the coronavirus (COVID-19) was having on their life (66% for non-disabled people); this is similar to May 2020 when nearly 74% of disabled people reported this;
- Around one-quarter (25%) of disabled people who were receiving medical care before the coronavirus pandemic indicated they were currently receiving treatment for only some of their conditions (compared with less than 1 in 10 (7%) non-disabled people who had a physical or mental health condition or illness and were receiving care before the pandemic);
- All well-being ratings of disabled people remain poorer in July 2020 compared with a similar period prior to the coronavirus pandemic; 45% of disabled people reported high anxiety (a score of 6 out of 10 or higher) in this period, a similar level to May 2020 (42%);
- In July 2020, around 4 in 10 disabled people (37%) reported they had not met up with other people to socialise this week, a higher proportion than reported by non-disabled people (29%); and
- In July 2020, around 1 in 10 disabled people (9%) indicated feeling very unsafe when outside their home because of the coronavirus pandemic, compared with less than 1 in 25 non-disabled people (3%).
So how can higher education institutions in the UK support their disabled student body during this second lockdown and into 2021?
- Actively engage with your students to find out what they need, where they need support on, and plug them into additional campus resources to help them from mental health support, connecting them to other students, etc.;
- For socilisation, create virtually accessible meet-up groups to allow students some form of social interaction and share their own experiences with others;
- For distanced learning, be sure to properly document which students need video captioning, sign language, or special technology equipment in order to succeed academically;
- Proactively reach out to faculty and staff on students that need accommodations or more time on examinations and tests;
- Provide workshops and resources for faculty and staff on ways they can accommodate students with disabilities such as built-in accessibility checkers in common software products such as Microsoft Office;
- Encourage instructors to relax rules on attendance as many students face health issues themselves and their families; and
- Listen to your students while understanding that you cannot always help them with everything, but you can be the resource for them to connect to other university and community services that can help them succeed.
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.