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.
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 a 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 other three 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’s 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 they 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.