Case Study 1 – Source: Staffordshire University, Strand 2 HEFCE Funded Project
P is a mature student with Cerebral Palsy and is a wheelchair user, he is enrolled on a Sports Science course at Staffordshire University. H is P’s Practical/Coaching Lecturer on the course.
P wanted to undertake a Sports Science course and he attended an open day at Staffordshire University where he spoke to the admissions tutors and researched the course itself and what it involved.
During his first year, P found it difficult to make friends and put this down to a combination of his disability as well as being a mature student. Although he was able to use the university minibus to attend social functions, he missed being able to attend football matches as he found the transport for this too expensive. As a result, P felt he missed out on certain social aspects of the course. P also found access difficult and needed assistance to use the library, he worried that he was a burden to admin staff who were helping him with access issues.
Overcoming Challenges Associated with Study
On discovering there was a coaching/practical sport module to the course, P wondered how he would cope and get involved with it in terms of organising and delivering a coaching session. He wanted to use football but was unsure about how to demonstrate it. Later on in the course P’s tutor organised for another student to buddy him and P wished he could have had this support during the early stages of the course when it would have been particularly useful for the coaching session.
P had a meeting with H to discuss his concerns with regard to the coaching sessions. He was worried about appearing too out of place if activities were adapted to the point where his difficulties became really apparent. Therefore, his early meetings with H were focussed on how P could be included fully in the session and retain his independence. For example, P participating in a netball coaching session where his partner stood a little closer to him so that he could catch the ball.
Each week H nominated a different partner for P to work with and this helped him to get to know more of his peers. P also felt that the students also benefited from and enjoyed this experience. Occasionally P would choose to be an observer while other people took the coaching session and he would make lists of three good and bad aspects of the session.
With time, the students themselves were working with P to suggest adaptations that could be made to the session in order for him to fully participate, and eventually everyone was able to learn about his individual abilities. His advice for other students and tutors is that students need to be honest themselves about their abilities and limitations and there needs to be effective communication between the student and the tutor.
H was aware from freshers week that there was a student who was an electric wheelchair user on the Sports Science course and his initial thought was that it would be challenging for H to think of ways to help P achieve the right experiences from his modules and interact fully with the other students on the course. H also had personal concerns because he had never taught a student who was an electric wheelchair user before, although he had coached students with disabilities. H felt it was down to him to be creative enough to ensure that P was involved fully in the course and got the most he could out of his experiences.
H felt that P was not as involved as he could be in the practical module during weeks one and two so in week three a meeting was arranged. His view was that the situation was a tremendous learning opportunity for all students in the group to think about making adaptations to include all students within a particular learning group. An important aspect of the coaching module is the fact that teaching groups will always have a variety of abilities regardless of whether the group includes a student with a particular disability, and students need to learn how to construct coaching sessions to get the best out of all participants. Each student has to learn how to take a coaching session which must include everyone from the most elite athlete to the less sport type and having P in the group was an ideal opportunity to raise awareness for ensuring all sessions were inclusive.
Before the start of each session, the subject was outlined and the learning outcomes given, P was then given a choice whether he wanted to actively participate or observe and identify positive and negative aspects of the session. In addition, H also nominated other students to also sit out and observe the session so each student had the opportunity to undertake different activities. The buddy system that H operated was also effective in that it allowed students to get to know each other and P always approached the sessions with the view of gaining the most he could out of them.
Interview with Sport Psychology Lecturer
Did you have any training on impairment/disability and inclusion?
I had a little training and general awareness raising about disability which was useful but it was very general and didn’t prepare me to work with some of the students that I have met.
I was the level one tutor so I knew that P was coming…and to be honest I was a bit worried about what I should do. How should I work with P? What were his needs and so on? It wasn’t that I didn’t want to support him and include him…I did…I was keen to meet that challenge…but at first I was a bit apprehensive. I didn’t know what P was capable of.
How do you think P wanted to be treated?
P wanted to be treated the same as everyone else. Even though at times we worked out ways in which he could do a different task or activity so that he could experience similar things to his peers. P was happy to try alternatives to what others were doing…but he was also happy at times to accept that alternatives weren’t very suitable and preferred to observe, comment on the group’s activity or be involved in some other way.
How did you approach P’s inclusion into the Sports Psych lab sessions?
The level 1 Sport and Exercise Psychology lab session includes a number of lab sessions in which students are asked to do several basic physical tasks such as a press up, and these situations are used to explore, examine, demonstrate or test various sports psychology theories. I simply asked to meet with P at the start for the module…and after a chat about how things were going for him and so on, I simply told him how the next week’s session normally works and provided him with some suggestions as to how he may be included. Sometimes P’s carer joined us and together we worked out what might work best. But it was always P who had the final say. P’s carer was provided with notes and details for the session to that he knew how best to support P…and actually myself and P became quite good friends! The process was one which was simply based on the process of me saying what the session was about and together we worked out how to include P as best we could.
Can you give some examples of lab sessions you use and how you included P?
I can give examples but these are just examples of my experiences with P. I am not suggesting that they are the best way or the only way to address inclusion…but at the end of the day I was happy that I had done the best I could and that P was included in the way that he wanted to be…but you’d have to ask P for his perspective too.
Example 1 – The effects of exercise on mood state
The session normally involves one student working on a bike for 20 minutes and using that experience to establish their rate of perceived exertion and also to establish the effects of that exercise on their mood state…
In my meeting with P we realised immediately that P would not be able to use a bike but that we needed an activity which provided the opportunity for P to exercise. Without this he would not experience what others did which was crucial in helping students to meet the learning outcome of this session.
We involved the technical staff throughout the module and in some sessions their knowledge and expertise was very, very useful. They developed an arm crank ergometer which P was able to use quite easily. Essentially it was like pedalling a bike which was secured to a desk.
P was very pleased with this session as he was fully involved, and had similar experiences to his peers…who were all very supportive…which I think is key. The culture of the group needed to be supportive for P’s inclusion to work…and to be fair the group were very supportive.
Example 2 – Audience effects on performance using a ski-sit task
The purpose of this session is to evaluate the effects of audience and group on performance. Students are asked to do a ski-sit against a wall with backs against the wall, thighs at 90 degrees, and lower limbs straight.
When I discussed this session with P I gave a few alternative roles…the most obvious one of which was that he was the research assistant making sure tests were conducted thoroughly, students were in the correct positions, etc. I think this worked fine.
In future we could try a grip strength exercise or an electric wheelchair slalom…any activity really that needed P’s strength and/or skills, to see whether the group or audience could impact on his performance. However, I think, though this may be different for other students, P was always a bit concerned about having a bad experience or feeling embarrassed or the session going wrong because of him. That’s why I think the positive relationship I developed with him and we developed with the group was really important.
Example 3 – Effects of feedback on coincident anticipation time using a Bassin Anticipation Timer and Squash Racquet
In this session we used a reaction time test to explore the effects of feedback. The reaction time test is a simple light strobe which simulates the flight or speed of an approaching object. Students have to anticipate when to hit the invisible object with a real racquet. It is a difficult task for all students.
P tried it before, in one of our meetings and it was fine. He was no worse or better than anyone else and was able to engage with the issues related to feedback with all of this peers.
What would you recommend to colleagues?
- Try to get to know the student from early on.
- Find out what they want from the sessions and their stance on inclusion.
- Build a relationship so that they trust you and your suggestions and you trust their judgement on what may or may not work.
- Hold regular meetings to evaluate previous sessions and plan for the next. Describe sessions to students. Suggest and discuss issues/alternatives. Try out alternative activities.
- Include technicians in the process.
- If necessary, re-plan sessions to enable the inclusion to fit within the overall plan for the session.
The information used in this case study is taken from the Staffordshire University Strand 2 project SIDE-STeP (Staffordshire Inclusive Disability Education – Sport TEaching Practice) http://crwnpro2.staffs.ac.uk/sidestep/
Case Study 2 – Source: Quality and Performance Improvement Dissemination and Department for Education and Employment. October 1999. Modern Apprenticeships and People with Disabilities. http://quality.wwt.co.uk/quality/qual_map/gpsrp1.pdf
Sector: Customer Services
Employer: Day Nurseries and Playschemes, and Training Provider of NVQs in Early Years Education and Care
Disability: Juvenile chronic arthritis, leading to stiffening and intense pain in all major joints, restricted movement and difficulties walking, bending and lifting (following a bilateral hip operation, the MA’s mobility was significantly improved).
Adjustment: Employer and TEC flexibility in allowing time off for an operation, and a transfer within the NVQ framework; willingness of employer and staff to make adjustments to the work environment to facilitate wheelchair access; provision of special IT equipment to complete written assignments.
Education Prior to MA
Becky began her education in a special school but was moved into mainstream education. Becky considered this an important move, encouraging her to become more independent and competitive, and "to do all the things any other teenager would do".
Becky left school aged 16 with 8 GCSEs (7 at grades C or above). She attended a careers interview at school and was advised to go to college to study for a GNVQ. Her parents also encouraged this as it gave Becky the option of gong on to university. However, Becky had ambitions of becoming a qualified playworker having worked for two years in a children’s play centre as a volunteer on Saturday mornings. She completed an Advanced GNVQ in Health and Social Care, plus three Key Skills at FE College.
Becky was a little apprehensive about starting college, as her mobility had become more restricted and she needed to use a wheelchair when it was too painful for her to walk. The college suggested that she enrol early and explore the facilities freely in her wheelchair "before the mayhem of induction week!" Becky saw this as positive action on the part of the college, and felt less intimidated about starting as a result.
Following her GNVQ, Becky attended a careers interview at college. The discussion seemed to focus mainly on a university option which proved to be unhelpful because Becky had already decided that she wanted to take time out from full time learning and was keen to start working in a children’s nursery.
Becky visited the Jobcentre to check out job vacancies, although she was unable to make a claim for any allowance as this would have affected her disability benefits. Becky had little success in finding suitable vacancies for six months.
Becky’s experiences at the Jobcentre were not totally positive, however, as she found the attitude of some staff off putting. One particular example occurred when Becky was asked to climb the stairs in the Jobcentre to attend an interview with in adviser. When she reached the top she was greeted with the comment "you don’t look very disabled now". Whilst the intentions behind this statement may have been positive, the effect certainly wasn’t!
Finding out About the Vacancy
Becky found out about MAs and met her current employer, by chance, at an open day at her old secondary school. Becky’s determination to work in a nursery impressed the employer, who asked if she had ever considered a Careership (National Traineeship) or MA.
Becky could not recall hearing about this option from any other source. On reflection, Becky feels GNVQs and university may have been considered the safest option for someone with her disability.
Becky agreed to telephone the employer and arrange an interview to discuss work-based training further. This was a major challenge for Becky who "hates using phones" but she forced herself to do it.
Preparations for Becky’s interview started some time in advance. Becky checked out the location of the employers premises two weeks earlier to plan her journey needs. As the main offices were based on the first floor, and accessed only by a side entrance and a flight of stairs, the offer was made to hold the interview as a sub-office. However, Becky did not think this necessary, as she was quite able to climb the stairs unaided.
On her arrival, Becky found staff very supportive, and they were able to help – by carrying her wheelchair up the stairs for her.
Becky was initially recruited as a trainee in January 1996, completing her Level 2 NVQ in Child Care and Education at one of the employer’s own day nurseries.
The interview fully explored Becky’s physical restrictions. This was facilitated by a number of factors including the completion of a detailed health questionnaire, which helped initiate discussions, Becky’s willingness to discuss her condition and physical limitations, direct and upfront questioning by the employer, and positive discussion about adjustments and support.
Health and Safety Issues
The decision to offer Becky a training position and place her in a day nursery was not taken lightly by the employer as walking, lifting and bending were difficult for Becky. Whilst this was less of a problem when working with children aged 5 years or more, it presented a number of Health and Safety issues with the age group Becky was so determined to work with. Handwriting was also difficult and painful, although Becky had overcome this by learning how to touch type at the age of nine.
Ensuring the health and safety of children is a major concern for the employer. As a result, a key message throughout the initial interview and induction process is one of openness and honesty in discussing any health problems that might possibly put a child at risk. This is particularly important when an applicant has a less obvious condition.
The MA and Adjustments
Adjusting the Framework
Life in the day nursery was becoming very hard for Becky who was advised to stop working by her doctor. This was devastating news for Becky. However, after discussion with the TEC, the employer suggested that Becky should continue her Level 2 on a part-time basis, but transfer to Level 3 Customer Care.
Becky was enthusiastic about this option as it offered her the opportunity to achieve her ambition of gaining a childcare qualification, as well as giving her a ‘fall back’ career should she not be able to continue working in a nursery. Becky and her employer agreed to an initial trial period to see if Becky liked the work and wanted to continue.
Becky’s employer had been concerned about influencing Becky away from her chosen career but their reservations were ill founded as Becky thoroughly enjoyed her new area of work, becoming a real asset to the employer.
Access to the Premises
Becky’s transfer to Customer Services was encouraged by staff at the employer’s training office, who were keen for her to continue working within the organisation. Wheelchair access, however, became a real issue, given the location of the office and main training rooms. Becky was given the choice of working and completing her training at a nearby office with wheelchair access. With the support of staff who were willing to help her access the building, make her drinks, and do lunchtime errands, Becky decided to stay in the main offices. This she feels helped her feel more integrated within the team.
The Use of IT
Becky discovered a hidden IT talent, and soon computerised all her MA assignments and documents. Wrist rests and special keyboards were purchased, although she did not find these comfortable or easy to use.
Becky needed to be transported by taxi to and from work everyday. Her employer suggested applying for additional funding from the TEC but Becky, already in receipt of a disability allowance, did not think this necessary.
Shortly after commencing her MA, Becky was signed off her training for 4 months to undergo a bilateral hip replacement operation. In fact she had made a very fast recovery, as the initial estimate was that Becky would be off work for 18 months.
Becky clearly remembers her first day back at the office, minus wheelchair, and the happiness she felt in being able to walk with no pain. Her first task on entering the office was to make everybody a cup of coffee!
A Developing Role
Becky’s role with the employer continued to be developed throughout her MA. She was encouraged to develop her IT skills further, setting up the employer’s website, transferring the accounts system to computer, and producing marketing and training materials. She is currently the employer’s year 2000 IT co-ordinator and manages the development of IT systems across all the employer’s nurseries and training sites.
Her experience as a trainee in a nursery encouraged Becky to support other trainees. She has initiated a new role as a trainee liaison officer, acting as an impartial sounding board for new trainees to express and discuss concerns or worries they might have about their training. Becky has also been instrumental in featuring trainee achievements in the employer’s newsletter.
The biggest challenge Becky feels she has faced in her MA is overcoming her fear of telephones. She recalls how initially she would let the phone ring, hoping someone else would answer it; but over time, with encouragement from her manager, she has gained greater confidence.
At the time of the case study, Becky had completed her Level 3 in customer care and was awaiting the results of the internal verifier. She was about to commence her NVQ Level 3 in play work and also planned to develop her IT skills further. Becky was both positive and excited about her future with her employer and having the opportunity to pursue her career interesting in childcare, IT, and customer services.
Points of Interest
The key points to emerge from this case study are:
- Present independent advice about the range of post-16 options available to young people to ensure they have equal access to opportunities.
- Allow young people time and opportunities to prepare and plan their entry into work-based training.
- Be flexible over the time allowed to complete work-based options to accommodate time needed for treatment or recuperation.
- Ensure adjustments made for young people help integrate, as well as support, individuals’ access to employment or training.
- Encourage open and honest discussions of health conditions that might affect an individual’s training or potential to gain employment in the relevant sector or area.
- Provide an understanding and safe environment in which the trainee can access support and achieve their potential.
- It is valuable to discuss contingency action in the event of setbacks.
Case Study 3 – Source: Schofield, J. (2002). "Case Study 5: Developing Access to Teaching, Learning and Assessment for a Student with Cerebral Palsy." School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, University of Derby IN Herrington, M. & Simpson, D. (eds). (2002). "Making Reasonable Adjustments for Disabled Students in Higher Education: Staff Development Materials: Case Studies and Exercises." University of Nottingham. http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/academicsupport/adjustments/Making%20Reasonable%20Adjustments.pdf
Developing access to teaching, learning and assessment for a student with cerebral palsy
Jo Schofield, School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, University of Derby
M. has cerebral palsy; he is a wheelchair user and his speech can be difficult to understand. He had started at the University the previous year on a computer course, but there were obvious problems as he is unable to use a keyboard. To cut a long story short, through the efforts of a colleague, he transferred onto 2nd year degree course in Tourism. I first came across M in the Tourism Marketing Management tutorials and was rather apprehensive because I had never taught anyone with such obvious disabilities. Neither had my colleagues and so there was little advice immediately available to me.
The first group presentation
One of the assessment methods for this module was a group presentation involving the collection of primary research via questionnaires. I had spoken to M individually to ascertain how he felt about this form of assessment and he was very keen to take part in the group work and to be included in the actual presentation. The students were allowed to choose their own groups and M was not chosen, so I had to nominate a group to take him. I spoke to M and the three other students together and we came up with a strategy of how to cope and what to do.
Some of the suggestions were that they would meet M in a pre-arranged spot in town to conduct the research and that M’s part of the presentation would also include a more comprehensive overhead or a handout of what he was actually saying. The presentation was not particularly good and there were still issues about the students’ acceptance of M as a team member.
The second group presentation
By the next semester, M had really started to settle in well and this was mainly to do with having one reliable person to help him with pushing, scribing, computer inputting etc. Previously, he had been relying on several people for different jobs. This stability with basic help really made a difference and allowed him to concentrate more on his studies. For the Research Methods presentation, I decided on a different tack and this was to put him in a group with two very enthusiastic mature students. They approached it as a role play exercise and this very format allowed M to be involved, whilst allowing the other two students to reiterate the points he had made. It was a very good presentation.
The destination studies trip
This success was followed by a field trip to Magaluf. M had never been abroad before and so had approached fellow colleagues as to whether it would be possible for him to go, considering the fact that he may need 24-hour assistance. There was a potential option of an alternative piece of coursework but the Department view was that if M wanted to go we would get funding, and we did – one helper was paid from Central University funding, whilst the other was funded directly from the Department. This trip was life-changing for M in several ways:
His fellow students became his friends. His enthusiasm and determination had won them over. They had been unsure how to treat him because of his disabilities, yet he is the same as any lad of his age and partakes in the drinking and general socialising as much as the next person. The only difference was that he had never had the chance before now.
Since the trip he has been abroad several times with his parents. They had always perceived this to be beyond their reach due to M’s disabilities, but now a whole new world has been opened up to them due to the confidence of their son.
The new academic year has again brought problems for M. He has lost his helper, as she has started a Master’s course. M needs a reliable PA who knows and understands his needs. Working with too many people does not help him, but as a temporary measure I went into his lectures and asked his fellow students for help. The response was good and it helped him through the first few weeks. We put up a poster asking for help with my name as the contact. We had a very good response and M now has a new helper, so we will just have to see how this works out in his final year.