Inclusion at Goldsmiths: what does it mean in practice? 

In his final blog for us, Barry Hayward offers some provocations based on his work as Goldsmiths’ Inclusion and Learning Support Manager and the recent discussion coming out of the Inclusion Working Group.  

Goldsmiths has embraced the inclusion agenda and it will be a key element of the Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy 2017-2021 (the Inclusive Curriculum will be one of the Strategic Aims).  It is increasingly important that we develop a Goldsmiths’ definition of what we mean by inclusion so that we all work in the same direction.  In disability terms, this means we need to clear about what we mean by accessibility.

Accessibility is about identifying all the barriers to learning faced by the whole range of disabled students. Once we are clear about the barriers, then we need to identify the structural changes required to address these barriers.

The progress made in widening awareness and understanding of reasonable adjustments is a good thing, but there is a tension with the inclusion agenda. Some staff are under the impression that making reasonable adjustments is creating an inclusive environment; whereas, in fact, individual adjustments just enable the inclusion of individuals one by one.

Reasonable adjustments can never lead to full inclusion, as by making adjustments we are treating each person in receipt of adjustments differently.

Full inclusion is about adopting an anticipatory approach to adjustments – we identify barriers and then remove them across the board, not just for individuals.

 

Some examples:

Individual adjustments

(only for disabled students)

Anticipatory adjustments

(applies to all students)

Allow disabled students to record lectures All lectures recorded using lecture capture technology
Video content has subtitles added when requested by Deaf student All video content is sub-titled
Certain disabled students can type exams Provide laptops for all exams
Hearing impaired student supported in seminars All seminar leaders trained to run inclusive seminars
Students with long-term illnesses allowed deadline adjustments A flexible approach to deadlines

This list is deliberately provocative to stimulate thinking. It can be argued that there will never be a “one size fits all” approach, as an inclusive methodology that accommodates the differing needs of all learners may never be possible (or be too resource-intensive to be viable).

 

What I would like to initiate, is a conversation within academic departments, on how more inclusive approaches might be introduced.  If ideas could be recorded and shared Goldsmiths could potentially be a sector leader.

 

Barry Hayward is leaving us to work for the disability service at King’s College London.

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Posted in Inclusion, Op-ed

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