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Westminster Briefing Presentation

17/11/2017

 

My research project is examining the communication support provided to deaf students studying in higher education and I was invited to present at the Westminster Briefing: Supporting Disabled Students in Higher Education. This was an excellent platform for me to discuss some of the issues which are specific to deaf students and the additional difficulties which have arisen since the changes to the mandatory qualifications and disabled students' allowance funding.

 

I talked about the professional experience I bring to educational interpreting to highlight the need to use interpreters who have the experience and linguistic repertoire to provide a high level of interpretation in the classroom. I also explained the need to recruit specialist note takers who have undergone training with accreditation to specifically work with deaf students. Unfortunately, exploratory research and feedback suggests many deaf students are not receiving support to meet their needs. I used some case study evidence and this quote is taken from one deaf student:

“I have no say over how my access is provided, and what insults me more, is that it’s being decided by people that have no comprehension that their actions are creating further barriers for me accessing my education. I consider myself to be a strong and assertive person, yet I am already at my wits end from all the arguments I’ve had just to get appropriate access. I am constantly being made to feel like a second-class citizen in my everyday life, but I didn’t expect to experience it at university as well.”

The day was also a useful opportunity to meet disability support staff from universities and discuss the issue of providing interpreting support and note taking for deaf students who use BSL. One of the main concerns is the limited budget available to pay for interpreters and specialist note takers for deaf students. Since the requirement for those providing the support (including interpreters & note takers) to be DSA-QAG registered much of the support is facilitated by agencies and issues of consistency, expertise and choice are being raised.

 

I shall begin my wider data collection early 2018 but please do get in contact if you would like further information.

 

If you are a deaf or hearing impaired-student studying at university and would like to share you experience as part of this research, please email me at f.lewin@ucl.ac.uk