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Student perspective

Students explaining what they feel is important in an inclusive teaching and learning environment.
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SARAH HEWITT: So my name is Sarah Hewitt, and I’m a first year PhD student here at the University of Southampton. I’m based– my PhD covers two faculties. I’m based in Electronics and Computer science, and the other half of my PhD is to do with Education. Inclusion, to me, means that I can access all the knowledge that I need in a variety of different ways. So I’m not just restricting to reading things, but I can also talk to other people, maybe watch a video, that it is available to me in a whole range of different ways. And not just one particular thing.
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JOHNJO BRADY: My name is JohnJo Brady, and I am a postgraduate student at the University of Kent, studying political philosophy. I remember being in first year and sort of just starting out, spending hours in the library, photocopying stuff. You know, just chapters of books and spending so much time in this place, not doing the reading. Getting to a point where I can do the reading, you know. Whereas a typical student would just have maybe two or three hours a week, and have done that stuff, you know. For me it was like six, seven just preparing everything and getting it into order, you know.
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You know cutting that time down over the years, being able to work, find kind of different versatile and natural ways of getting up to that level of other students is just invaluable, you know.
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BEN BREEN: Hi, I’m Ben. I’m a drama student from the University of Kent. Inclusive teaching and learning is a very useful strategy. And it’s proven so with my experiences at the University of Kent. The lecturers have been very willing to work with me, and I’ve been willing to work with them on planning out for modules, to see how they’re going to work, accessibility-wise. And inclusive teaching has also allowed me to integrate more clearly with my peers in collaborative projects. In studying with absolutely no sight whatsoever, there are various clear challenges.
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For example, when I’ve worked with musical theatre dance as a drama student, there was an expectation that it may be too much of a challenge, due to studying choreography visually. However, in working with the lecturers, I was able to come up with a system where I would enter class early to study the moves that the rest of the class would learn throughout the course of the lesson. Such strategies of one-to-one teaching actually allowed me to greatly improve what I managed to learn, in a shorter amount of time.
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And, in addition to this, the fact that my peers were also willing to work closely with me, for example, in collaborative projects, made sure that I was actually more involved than perhaps I wouldn’t have been, if inclusive teaching wasn’t incorporated into the module. The fact that teachers and academics understand my needs through me, instead of being through somebody else, has enabled them to better accommodate me when they’ve worked with me in the future. So for example, if I have told a lecturer to give me PowerPoints in an accessible format, the next time I discuss such work with a lecturer again, they will possibly remember that that is what needs to be done, for a second time.
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JOHNJO BRADY: There’s obviously the practical stuff like having technology available to, as I say, cut that time down, be able to get me to read the same materials as everyone else has read. Being able to manipulate the text I’ve been given. So you know it’s written in a particular format, so that I can enlarge the text, I can highlight, I can copy and paste and things like that, you know. But I mean on the other side of it, there’s also having kind of a cultural understanding and being able to feel comfortable to ask questions - like inquire about whether someone can produce the work in this way for me, has been really, really helpful.
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Because without that I probably wouldn’t have been able to stand up and say look this isn’t working. Can you fix it, you know? That sort of thing, you know. So I think there’s a culture of understanding that is really important too.
In the video three students discuss the benefits of inclusive teaching and the impact it has had on their learning.
Sarah, a PhD student at the University of Southampton Web Science Institute, has made full use of technology throughout her post graduate course and sees the creation of multiple formats as being one of the ways she overcomes the difficulties she has with reading large amounts of text.
John Jo from the University of Kent, talks about his experiences as an undergraduate studying law. He has both physical and visual impairments and felt that as inclusive practices were improved he benefitted in terms of access to resources and reduced reading times.
Ben, also an undergraduate from University of Kent, stresses the importance of working in a collaborative way to ensure his needs as a screen reader user are met whilst also helping other students.
Have you any ideas from students that illustrate the benefits of inclusive learning and teaching?

© This work is created by the University of Southampton and licensed under CC-BY 4.0 International Licence. Erasmus + MOOCs for Accessibility Partnership.
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