A SERIES OF CASE STUDY FOR PUBLIC SERVICES STUDENTS

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A deaf student who uses sign language to communicate is seeking admission to a higher level graphic design course. The course has a strong visual emphasis and is heavily dependent on computers. There is a major element of self directed work in the programme, which also includes a number of visits to exhibitions and shows.

Her reference from school is excellent and her examination results are good. She has explained that she had the support of a sign language interpreter at school for four half days each week.

She has arrived at the centre and there is no sign language interpreter available.

Discussion Questions

How would you respond to and communicate with this potential student?

Is the student disabled according to the DDA part 4?

Has she disclosed her disability?

What reasonable adjustments could you make to comply with part 4 of the DDA?

What are your procedures for dealing with disabled applicants?

Case Study Scenario No 8 for Support Staff

Key words: autistic spectrum disorder; disclosure; confidentiality; reasonable adjustments, disciplinary policies and procedures

Case Study Scenario

A student has an autistic spectrum disorder but has not declared this disability on his enrolment form. He does not relate well to other students, finds eye contact extremely difficult, can be very withdrawn and can also talk very obsessively about a particular subject with little awareness of the responses of others. This behaviour seems more unusual in social situations such as in the canteen. However, this does not cause undue difficulty in his classes and he is managing to complete the work on his course.

Learning support staff have commented on his behaviour and feel he does probably have an autistic spectrum disorder. Because he has not disclosed his disability and seems to be managing it well, they do not put in place any additional adjustments. One lunchtime the student has a disagreement with another student in the canteen who refers to him being "stupid". The student with autistic spectrum disorder hits out briefly and then leaves the room in a very upset state. The other student brings a complaint and wants the student with autistic spectrum disorder excluded.

Questions for Discussion

1. Is the student disabled according to the definition of the DDA?

2 Has he disclosed his disability? What would you do in circumstances where you thought someone had a disability even though they had not disclosed it?

3. Are there any reasonable adjustments that might have been put in place?

4. Should you take disciplinary action against the student?

Case Study Scenario No 11 for Teaching Staff (3)

Key words: reasonable adjustments; academic standards; moderate learning difficulties; individual learning plan

Case Study Scenario

A student with moderate learning difficulties successfully completes a two year discrete programme designed for students with learning difficulties. His tutors identify a two year business studies programme as a progression route which the student is keen to do. This course has no specific entry requirements. In consultation with the student, his parents, business studies tutors and learning support staff the college agrees that a learning support tutor will be allocated to give the student two hours a week extra tutorial support. His support tutor will also work alongside him in two classes a week. The provider also arranges for him to do his work experience in a voluntary organisation where he will receive appropriate support.

This programme is reviewed regularly. At the end of the first year, staff meet to review the student's progress. They feel that, although he will be able to achieve some of the practical modules of the course, his standard of academic work in key skills in particular, means that he is very unlikely to pass the theoretical elements even if his time on the course was extended to three years. They are quite happy for him to stay on for the second year but inform him and his parents that he is only likely to achieve partial accreditation.

Two months before he is due to leave and after extensive discussion, his parents telephone the college and say they believe that the college is discriminating against their son by not offering him the opportunity to stay on for longer. They want their son to complete all of the units on the course and believe he should be given as much time as it takes. They are in the process of seeking legal advice to take up this dispute as a breach of DDA Part 4.

Discussion Questions

Do you think this student would be covered by DDA Part 4?

Should this student have been offered a place on the course in the first instance?

Has the organisation made reasonable adjustments for this student?

Should the staff extend his time on the course, or are they right to say that he has to leave at the end of the two years?

What action would you take in these circumstances?

Case Study Scenario No 2 for Reception, Administration and other Support Staff

Key Words: reasonable adjustments, canteen, student with physical impairment

Case Study Scenario

A wheelchair user with unclear speech has enrolled on an access course in a community school providing second chance provision within the community. The buildings are accessible and the tutor, with the student's agreement, has addressed the disability issue straight away. Because her speech is difficult to understand, the group recognise and readily accept that some activities, such as discussions, will take longer and they will need to concentrate hard and be patient so that the disabled student will be able to fully participate. The learning experience is rewarding and what she had hoped for.

Unfortunately, some aspects of the community school location are a problem. In using the canteen, she needs space and someone to carry her tray. She usually goes in with other members of the group and someone takes a tray for her. On the occasions when she goes into the canteen alone the staff are reluctant to carry a tray for her. They say they are too busy and can't offer a waitress service. They complain that she takes a long time to choose and say what she wants, which holds everyone else up and creates a queue. They say they cannot understand what she is saying and, because they are under pressure, they do not have the time to deal with her. She is distressed by this response and is increasingly more reluctant to use the canteen.

Discussion Questions

1. Is the student disabled according to the Disability Discrimination Act definition?

2. The canteen is not directly linked to the student's learning so is it covered by the Act?

3. Has the student been treated less favourably than a non-disabled student would have been because of her disability?

What might be a reasonable adjustment in the canteen?

What would you do in these circumstances?

Case Study Scenario No 10 for teaching staff (2)

Key words:

disclosure; academic standards; reasonable adjustments; dyslexia.

Case Study Scenario

A student who has been assessed as having dyslexia, states that she is dyslexic on her enrolment form.

The student is enrolled on an Access to Higher Education course. She is producing work of a good standard but is having difficulty meeting deadlines. In discussion with the dyslexia support tutor she says that she finds it difficult to get through the volume of reading required. There is an exhaustive reading list designed to help students read around the topics. The course team consider that all items on the reading list are relevant. They suggest that as the student is struggling she will be unable to meet the academic standards of the course. They say that she should transfer to a course at a lower level, but this would not provide access to higher education.

Discussion Questions

Is the student disabled according to the Disability Discrimination Act definition?

Has she disclosed her disability?

What is the procedure in your organisation for dealing with disclosure of disability?

Who would you go to for specialist support?

What reasonable adjustments could be made for this student that would not compromise the academic standards of the course?

Case Study Scenario No 9 for Teaching Staff (1)

Key words:

cookery, independence skills, health and safety, risk assessment, discrimination, reasonable adjustments, visual impairment and learning difficulties

Case Study Scenario

A student is registered blind and has learning difficulties.

His parents are keen for him to become more independent and have encouraged him to enrol for an independent living skills course. The staff have a good record of working with students with learning difficulties but have no experience of working with a blind student. They anticipate all sorts of problems to such an extent that they are reluctant to offer a place to the student.

Their concern is based on health and safety grounds in relation to the cookery element of the course.

Hotplates and ovens present a risk to the student;

Using sharp knives and other utensils could be dangerous to the student and to others;

Movement in an environment with hot liquids and hot food could also be a danger to himself and others.

Discussion Questions

Do you think this student would be covered by DDA Part 4?

Is the student being discriminated against because of his disabilities? Can discrimination ever be justified?

What kind of adjustments would enable the student to participate fully in the cookery sessions? How would you decide if they are reasonable?

What sources of help and advice are available internally and externally?

CONFIDENTIAL

FOR TEACHING STAFF - RESPONSE SHEETS

Case Study Scenario No 2

Notes for facilitators

Issues

Commentary

Is the student disabled according to the Disability Discrimination Act definition?

The canteen is not directly linked to the student's learning so is it covered by the Act?

Has the student been treated less favourably than a non-disabled person because of her disability?

What might be a reasonable adjustment for this student?

It is likely that this student would be covered by the definition as her disability is substantial and has an effect on her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, such as carrying a tray.

The canteen is a service provided primarily for students and so it is covered by the legislation.

The less favourable treatment might arise from the way staff respond to the student, such as the attitude towards and irritation with her, resulting from her disability. For example, her unclear speech requires more effort and time from listeners. If treatment is overtly hostile a court may well decide that the student has been discriminated against because of her disability.

Support in carrying a tray might be a reasonable adjustment. It is for the organisation to decide how to provide support, whether by allocating learning support staff or redefining the role of the canteen staff. This would need to be reflected in the contract with the staff.

The canteen staff might suggest a better time for the class to use the canteen, when they are less busy.

What would you do in these circumstances?

Training needs to be provided for all staff and policies and procedures must be in place to ensure that reasonable adjustments are made wherever they are needed.

Case Study Scenario No 9

Notes for facilitators

Issues

Commentary

Do you think this student would be covered by DDA Part 4?

The student has substantial difficulties arising both from his blindness and his learning disability. These affect his ability to carry out day to day activities so it is likely that he would be covered by the Act.

Is the student being discriminated against because of his disabilities? Can discrimination ever be justified?

The staff do wish to discriminate for reasons clearly related to his disability but they may be justified on

health and safety grounds. To provide justification, teaching staff must first consider what adjustments might be made to overcome the risks posed to the health and safety of the student and others.

Where health and safety issues are involved, a risk assessment should be carried out with a view to including the student rather than anticipating problems that could justify exclusion. Measures to include disabled student may also extend opportunities and improve access to other marginalised or non-disabled students.

It is essential that the centre has a procedure in place that systematically and thoroughly explores possible adjustments to arrive at an evidence based judgement. The need for basic living skills is so fundamental that limiting access to the course would need to be on strong grounds.

It is helpful to involve the student and parents in every stage of the decision making process; in particular asking them how they regard the risks and what kind of precautionary measures they would like to see.

What kind of adjustments would enable the student to participate fully in the cookery sessions? How would you decide if they are reasonable?

The provision of a support worker to assist the student in the practical elements of the course would be a reasonable adjustment.

Since the intention is to develop independence skills, it would be helpful to look at aids and adaptations. There are devices that enable blind people to use cookers and to pour hot liquids such as guard rails or liquid level indicators and electric hotplates rather than a gas hob. These could be investigated.

The cost and availability of resources would be taken into account. It might be unreasonable if the costs were very high and the element of the programme that required the adaptation was small.

It is important that all staff know the procedures for access to additional learning support resources.

What sources of help and advice are available internally and externally?

Do all teaching staff know who to approach internally if they feel a particular student requires extra support? The disability statement is a helpful source of information.

There may be an arrangement with an external support service to provide specialist support.

There is also a range of specialist organisations such as RNIB, Access centres, Action for Blind People, specialist colleges, and LEA support services that offer advice. Occupational therapists have expertise in aids and adaptations for disabled people and can be contacted through local health authorities.

Further Information

There are more general issues that support staff need to consider and advice on these can be obtained from the leaflet, "A Guide for Teaching Staff in Further Education colleges and Local Education Authority Adult Education provision".

There is also useful guidance offered in the Post-16 Code of Practice on DDA Part 4 which is available through the Disability Rights Commission's website www.drc-gb.org.uk

Teaching staff need to be aware of the advice in the Code of Practice on less favourable treatment in relation to admissions (paragraphs 4.11 to 4.13 and Sections 5 and 6 on reasonable adjustments. Paragraphs 6.13 to 6.15 deal with health and safety issues and paragraphs 6.16 to 6.17 cover the interests of other people.

Further Information

There are more general issues that front line staff need to consider and advice on these can be obtained from the leaflet, "A Guide for Reception, Administration and other Support Staff in Further Education colleges and Local Education Authority Adult Education provision".

There is also useful guidance offered in the Post-16 Code of Practice on DDA Part 4 which is available through the Disability Rights Commission's website www.drc-gb.org.uk

Reception, administration and other support staff are frequently responsible for non-teaching provision outside of the classroom and it may be helpful to refer to paragraphs 3.9 to 3.16 of the Code of Practice which outlines the range of activities covered by the Act.

Some of the issues raised by this case study are dealt with in Section 6 which looks at the kind of adjustments that may be regarded as practicable.

Case Study Scenario No 1

Notes for Facilitators

Issues

Commentary

How would you respond to and communicate with this potential student?

The extent to which staff are confident in welcoming disabled students is likely to be determined by whether or not they have undertaken basic disability awareness and equality training.

Staff should be aware of basic good practice such as not shouting or turning away when speaking. They should also check with the student how she would best like to communicate. She may prefer to lipread or write things down. They should also be able to indicate that they cannot sign, explain what arrangements can be made for interpreter support and know how to set it up.

Is this student disabled according to the DDA Part 4?

The student is deaf and, depending upon the degree of hearing loss, this is likely to have a significant, long-term impact on the student's ability to carry out day to day activities. It is likely that a court would decide that she is covered by the DDA.

Has she disclosed her disability?

Yes, on her application/ enrolment form.

What reasonable adjustments could you make to comply with part 4 of the DDA

Reasonable adjustments are likely to include providing a sign language interpreter for

the admissions process. If the student has arrived without an appointment, it might be reasonable to provide her with any documentation that is available and to make a further appointment for an interview when an interpreter can be present.

Assuming she meets the entry requirements of the course and is offered a place, she is likely to need support throughout the course.

To assess her support requirements, staff also need to consider in detail the whole range of activity involved in the course and what support might be needed. For example, in:

Interview, enrolment or induction activities

classroom and studio activity;

field trips of any kind;

work placements;

giving presentations;

assessment and examination processes; and

social activity

The type of support should also be considered. A sign language interpreter might be helpful for communications, but some tutorial time with a teacher of the deaf might be necessary for tutorials and to explain the meaning of technical language.

It would also be important to discuss with her which elements of the course might not need this support, for example, self-directed study.

Both course team and learning support staff need to be involved in deciding support arrangements with the student. The potential number of people who need to know about her support arrangements is large so it is essential that key people know and pass the information on appropriately.

What are your procedures for dealing with disabled applicants?

Procedures need to be in place to ensure that information is passed on to relevant staff, with the consent of the student. These staff are likely to include the course team and learning support staff.

There should be both a procedure for referral and a procedure for obtaining the written consent of the student to pass the information on.

The course team and support staff should already have considered broadly how to meet the needs of disabled students. This is their anticipatory duty.

The important element in this case study is the liaison between admissions staff, course staff and colleagues responsible for support arrangements.

Who and/or where would you go for advice?

The disability statement might be useful in explaining to staff what support is available and how to obtain it.

Some support might be provided by external support services or agencies and information is available in the resources review on the LSC website.

Staff will need to be aware of college or centre arrangements for contact with external services?

Further Information

There are more general issues that recruitment and admissions staff need to consider and advice on these can be obtained from the leaflet, "A Guide for those involved in Marketing, Recruitment, Admissions, Advice, Guidance and Enquiries in Further Education colleges and Local Authority Adult Education provision".

There is also useful guidance offered in the Post-16 Code of Practice on DDA Part 4 which is available through the Disability Rights Commission's website www.drc-gb.org.uk

Of particular importance to admissions staff are sections 3.9 to 3.10 dealing with admissions and exclusions and sections 4.11 to 4.13 dealing with less favourable treatment in relation to admissions.

In relation to this case study the Code of Practice covers reasonable adjustments in detail in sections 5 and 6, looking at the specific issue of disclosure and reasonable steps in paragraphs 5.10 to 5.15.

Case Study Scenario No 8

Notes for Facilitators

Issues

Commentary

1. Is the person disabled according to the DDA definition?

Autistic spectrum disorder would potentially be covered by the DDA provided it had a significant impact on day to day activities but, in this case, it might be seen as borderline. In the end, the courts would have to decide but it would be sensible for the college to assume that the student would be covered by Part 4 of the DDA.

2. Has he disclosed his disability? What would you do if you thought a student had an undisclosed disability?

Although the student has not disclosed his disability, his behaviour over a sustained period has made some staff aware of his condition. Given this the college should act as though it were disclosed.

3. Are there any reasonable adjustments which might have been put in place?

Staff might have spoken to the student to see if he wanted to talk about any difficulties he has and whether there is any support he might need. However, because in general he has been coping on the course there is little evidence that they could have predicted the outburst in the canteen or put in place any adjustments which might have meant it did not happen.

4. Should you take disciplinary action against this student?

The college must follow the disciplinary and complaints procedures. DDA Part 4 does not override any duties of care that the provider has to all its students and so should not make unreasonable allowances to a student who could cause harm to others. However, this is an isolated incident and, in considering any disciplinary action, the provider should be aware of the student's disability and take it into account when deciding what action to take. Staff should also consider the provocation. They should talk to the student about the seriousness of his action and discuss with him how they might best support him to ensure such an incident does not occur again, for example, ensuring he has someone he can talk to or somewhere safe to go if he becomes upset. The college should also consider and respond to the complaint, in line with its complaints procedures.

Further Information

There are more general issues that support staff need to consider and advice on these can be obtained from the leaflet, "A Guide for those providing Learning Support in Further Education colleges and Local Education Authority Adult Education provision".

There is also useful guidance offered in the Post-16 Code of Practice on DDA Part 4 which is available through the Disability Rights Commission's website www.drc-gb.org.uk

Managers of support staff should read Appendix One of the Code of Practice which gives an explanation of the meaning of "disability" within the Act that would be helpful in the context of the case study.

Support staff may find it helpful to read sections 5 and 6 of the Code which deal in detail with reasonable adjustments.

Case Study Scenario No 11

Notes for facilitators

Issues

Commentary

Is this student covered by the DDA?

He has a learning difficulty. A court would need to decide whether this learning difficulty had a significant effect on his ability to carry out normal day to day activities to ascertain whether he was disabled according to the definition of the DDA. However, it is safer for the college to assume he would be covered by the Act.

Should this student have been offered a place on the course in the first instance?

At the initial point of entry the staff felt the course was appropriate for the student. As the course has no specific entry requirements, there were no grounds for refusing a place. Only as the programme developed did it became clear that the student could not successfully complete all aspects of the course.

Has the organisation made reasonable adjustments?

The college has made reasonable adjustments. They have assigned him a support tutor. Regular reviews of progress have also taken place and a suitable work placement was found.

Should staff extend the student's time on the course or are they right to say that he has to leave at the end of two years?

This is a difficult question to answer. A 'reasonable adjustment' could include giving the student more time to achieve his qualification. However, the staff believe even with this extra time he would not be able to reach the required standard. Staff would need to produce clear evidence of why they have come to this conclusion.

If staff offer an extended programme, it would be essential to develop an individual learning plan for him and not just repeat the previous year's work. A record of progress and achievement should be drawn up. Seeking expert advice and an assessment of the student's capabilities for further learning and progression is also an option.

It might be more appropriate for an extended work placement to be found and for the student to continue his studies through a work based learning programme.

Further Information

There are more general issues that support staff need to consider and advice on these can be obtained from the leaflet, "A Guide for Teaching Staff in Further Education colleges and Local Education Authority Adult Education provision".

There is also useful guidance offered in the Post-16 Code of Practice on DDA Part 4 which is available through the Disability Rights Commission's website www.drc-gb.org.uk

Teaching staff need to be familiar with the Code of Practice advice on less favourable treatment in relation to admissions (Paragraph 4.11 to 4.13) and should be familiar with sections 5 and 6 of the Code dealing with reasonable adjustments. Of particular importance in this case are paragraphs 6.3 to 6.6 dealing with the need to maintain academic standards.

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