Discussing outreach at the Disability Forum

March 31, 2017

There was much on the agenda at the most recent meeting of the AccessHE Disability forum where discussions turned to the nature of outreach work done by our member HEIs with disabled learners. The discussions were prompted by the creation and dissemination of our outreach with disabled learners survey, which we sent to our members in mid-March to explore this area further.

The survey was circulated following work we undertook looking at access agreements and subsequent discussions in the forum, which suggested that the main focus of support offered by HEIs to disabled students is through efforts to promote transition, retention and success once they are already in higher education. We asked our members not only whether and how they deliver outreach to disabled learners, but also the barriers they face in developing these activities. The results of this survey will be shared with OFFA, who are keen to know more about this.

The forum meeting was an opportunity for members to elaborate on their survey responses and talk with each other in more depth about their own institution’s outreach work with disabled students and the challenges in delivering it. Many issues were raised including the lack of training on disability issues for widening participation staff, how to access learners and what the best terminology to use when working with this group would be.

To address some of these issues, the group have decided to pool their skills and run a collaborative outreach event targeted at disabled learners from years 11 upwards, and including access course students. The event will focus on the support available in HE and include information on the DSA. Attendees will also have the chance to hear from current students with a disability on their learner journey and how they have overcome the barriers they face. The event is planned for 7 July and will be hosted by AccessHE member HEI, the University of Greenwich. We will be publishing more details in the coming weeks.