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BATH SPA UNIVERSITY COLLEGE

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BATH SPA UNIVERSITY COLLEGE ...

    BATH SPA UNIVERSITY COLLEGE

     th TO: BOARD OF GOVERNORS 30 APRIL 2003

     FROM: DIRECTOR

     PREPARED BY: ASSISTANT DIRECTOR (DR ALUN THOMAS)

     TH DATE: 11 APRIL 2003

     APPROVED BY

     DIRECTOR:

     SUBJECT: DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION ACT: GOVERNORS’

    RESPONSIBILITIES

1. Purpose

     1.1

    a) To define the responsibilities of the Board of Governors under the Disability Discrimination

    Act.

    b) To identify the means by which the University College is discharging these responsibilities.

    2. Definition Of Disability

    2.1 A disabled person is someone who has a physical or mental impairment, which has a substantial

    and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

3. The Act

    3.1 The Disability Discrimination Act sets out comprehensive requirements in three phases:

    From 1 September 2002:

    ? It is unlawful to discriminate against disabled people or students by treating them less

    favourably than others.

    ? Responsible bodies must provide certain types of reasonable adjustments to provision where

    disabled students or other disabled people might otherwise be substantially disadvantaged

    From 1 September 2003:

    ? Responsible bodies must make adjustments involving the provision of auxiliary aids and

    services

    From 1 September 2005

    ? Responsible bodies must make adjustments to physical features of premises where these put

    disabled people or students at a substantial disadvantage

3.3 As the implementation of the legislation progresses, there are points at which interpretation

    becomes difficult. It is commonly acknowledged that some issues will only be settled through the

    courts but it is clearly advisable to try to avoid such situations and to proceed as soon as possible

    with changes, irrespective of the published deadlines.

    4. Governors‟ Responsibilities Under the Act

    4.1 Annex A contains the legal advice we have sought on Governors‟ responsibilities. In essence the

    governing Body has legal liability for ensuring that the University College complies with the new

    requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), as amended by the Special Educational

    Needs and Disability Act (2001). The legislation refers to the Governing Body as the “responsible

    body”. The responsible body is legally liable for the actions of the institution as a whole, but also

    for:

    ? The actions of individual employees of the institution in the course of their employment,

    whether they are full-time, part-time or temporary.

    ? The actions of agents, including contractors, visiting speakers etc.

    It may be possible to use a defence that all reasonably practicable steps were taken to prevent staff

    or agents discriminating. The definition of „reasonable‟ (which is much used in the legislation) is

    likely only to be established through case law.

    4.2 This paper starts the process of discharging the responsibilities of the Board of Governors.

    5. Disability Provision At Bath Spa University College

5.1 The Disability Support Office was set up through a HEFCE project award, Improving Provision for

    Disabled Students 1999 2002, which concluded at the end of December 2002. The posts and

    general funding of the work now fall fully to be met from our annual budgets although HEFCE

    have brought in a stream of funding specifically determined by the number of disabled students at

    an institution. Next year this will amount to ?55,775.

    5.2 The office, since it opened, has been staffed by a full-time Disability Officer and a half-time

    Disability Office assistant. The Disability Officer post is currently vacant and recruitment is in

    progress.

5.3 Annex B details some of the activities currently undertaken by the University College.

5.4 Annex C provides data on the number of disabled students at the College.

    6 Institutional Issues

    6.1 Students with needs in relation to study, which arise out of their disability, are commonly entitled

    to a Disabled Student Allowance (DSA). However, it should be noted that not all disabled students

    have a DSA: the institution, however, has a responsibility to every disabled student, with or

    without a DSA.

6.2 While the DSA will address the individual student‟s needs, through the implementation of a Needs

    Assessment, the institution is also required to:

    1. Make reasonable adjustments

    2. Exercise anticipatory duty

6.3 By doing so, the institution may be responding partly to requirements outlined in the individual

    student‟s Needs Assessment, but in particular to any potential needs of any individual with any

    disability, who might choose to apply to and/or register at the institution.

6.4 It is essential to exercise anticipatory duty, as the law does not accept the institution‟s simply

    responding to individual needs as they arise. It is the responsibility of the responsible body to

    consider what adjustments future disabled students or applicants may need, and make them in

    advance. This is an anticipatory duty on behalf of all disabled people.

6.5 Discrimination against disabled applicants or students can take place in one of two ways:

    1. By treating them „less favourably‟ than other people

    2. By failing to make a „reasonable adjustment‟ when they are placed at a „substantial

    disadvantage‟ compared to other people for a reason relation to their disability.

6.6 The work of the Disability Support Office obviously involves very considerable activity with

    individual disabled students, particularly those with DSA‟s. However, it also guides and

    participates in the University College‟s general policy development and the drawing up of strategic

    objectives and the embedding of policies through action plans, training and coordination with other

    relevant bodies and agencies.

    7. Financial Implications

7.1 University College management will establish and quantify the resource implications of the

    Disability Discrimination Act. Some of the issues that will determine these are the need for:

    ? Staffing so as to provide appropriate support to the increasing number of disabled students at

    BSUC.

    ? Training for all staff so that they understand the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act

    and their role and responsibilities.

    ? Buildings adaptations, using the conditions survey referred to at para 2 Annex B.

    8. Conclusions

8.1 There has been considerable dissemination of good practice throughout the institution and staff in

    all departments are becoming increasingly confident in moving towards embedding of this good

    practice

8.2 The number of identified disabled students has increased owing partly to better recording systems

    and collaboration with the Registry, and partly to an increasing number of students disclosing

    disabilities as the institution publicises the support available

8.3 Our success, as an institution, in recruiting non-traditional students means that the number of

    disabled students registering is likely to continue increasing

    8.4 Whilst students with dyslexia will remain the single largest group, students with mental health

    needs will almost certainly move into second place as their willingness to disclose increases and as

    the institution becomes more skilled at identifying them

    8.5 Provision of equipment is increasing all the time, but it would be far more effective to be able to

    concentrate much of this in a dedicated assistive technology suite, as soon as space becomes

    available

    8.6 The University College must move towards more formal learning support for disabled students.

    The most efficient way to do this has to be further researched but the appointment of in-house

    support staff to complement and/or incorporate the work of those currently working independently,

    would bring definite benefits to individuals and the institution.

8.7 Staff training must remain a priority.

    9. Recommendations

    9.1 That the Board of Governors note their responsibilities as described at Section 4, but also note that

    this is likely to be established by case law.

    9.2 That the Board note the range and extent of activities already undertaken by the College in this

    area.

    9.3 That the Board note the intention to review and quantify resource requirements.

    9.4 That the Board receives biennial reports on progress in this area such that it can satisfy titself hat

    its responsibilities are being properly discharged.

    ANNEX B

CURRENT SITUATION AT THE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE

    1. Staff Training

    ? All new staff are given outline guidance on disability legislation and related issues at their induction day

    ? A regular series of lunchtime briefings open to all staff, introduced the basic principles of non-discrimination

    and the requirements of the legislation

    ? Following on the agreement of the Strategic Plan aiming to ensure compliance with legislation, each of the

    seven schools has had a session for teaching, support and technical staff to assist with the development of school

    specific Action Plans. A further series of meetings for action planning will be developed and delivered in the

    New Year for all non-teaching departments.

    ? Individuals and groups of staff have received briefings/training from the Disability Officer on a range of specific

    issues

    ? The Disability Office publishes a series of Quick Guides, of which there are currently four (Visual Impairment,

    Hearing Impairment, the DSA, Dyslexia), designed to assist staff in managing the needs of individual disabled

    students. Two further guides, one on Asperger Syndrome and a second on Cerebral Palsy, will be published

    before Easter.

    ? These quick guides plus briefings on key mental health issues are all published on the website and in the Student

    Support Services guide for staff. Hard copies of this guide have been sent to all departments and schools. The

    staff guide is also available on the website

    ? The Disability Office can offer the specific training needs of any individual or group, wither directly or through

    identifying a suitable external provider

    2. Building Audit

    ? As an addition to the Conditions Survey, and in place of a separate Building Audit, the surveyors were asked to

    look at disability issues. The aim was to identify all key areas to be addressed to enable the institution to comply

    with the legislation with regard to buildings and the physical environment in general.

    ? A continuous programme of improvements through small scale works has so far included the installation of

    some induction loops, enhancing of floor markings to assist those with visual impairments, improved ramps and

    the upgrading of some rooms in halls of residence, to full access levels

    ? The next stage is to identify requirements relating to the physical environment, but not included in the

    Conditions Survey and to ensure that there is full coverage of all legal requirements.

    ? A further enhancement of hearing support systems is currently being organised and will include in put from a

    deaf student who will be able to provide user feedback on current provision. It is hoped that the inclusion of

    student users, in developments and debate will become a more common practice, reflecting our commitment to

    dialogue with key groups.

3. Improving Services and Procedures across the Institution

    ? Located within the department of Student Support Services, the Disability Support Office benefits from a

    holistic approach to student issues which includes close regular liaison at a range of levels and in particular on

    welfare and financial issues, as they affect disabled students.

    ? The Registry and Disability Support have established clear procedures, on which both departments have worked,

    to:

? Rationalise admissions/student induction procedures

? Record accurately the number of students with disabilities

    ? Provide of cover for students requiring alternative assessment procedures, especially extra time in examinations

    ? Clear links with the Accommodation Office enable students with diverse needs to be accommodated on campus,

    and where necessary to remain in this accommodation throughout their courses

    ? The Disability Office has recently advised the Library on the provision and siting of specialist equipment for

    visually impaired students

    ? A dialogue is being established with Property Services. This will become increasingly essential as we move

    towards full compliance with the law.

    ? Some schools and departments have already identified a person for Disability liaison; this practice will be

    established across the whole institution.

4. Supporting Students

    ? Each DSA Needs Assessment identifies the needs of the individual student. Very often, this will include

    allowances to cover the cost of a non-medical helper, major items of specialist equipment, travel and other costs.

    It can also make recommendations about the delivery of the course, special arrangements and adjustments etc,

    addressed to the institution.

    ? An unforeseen outcome of this process is the realisation that even though the Needs Assessment may say that

    the student is entitled to a number of hours of non-medical helper support, there is still the question of how to

    identify someone who can offer this service.

    ? The University College, in order to assist students in benefiting fully from their Needs Assessments, has had to

    devise ways of identifying such staff, who are paid directly by the student‟s LEA.

    ? The University College now has a pool of 14 support staff, some of whom are specialist dyslexia tutors, others

    who offer more general support. These staff require training and development, as well as the obvious linking up

    with appropriate students. This work has been taken on by the Disability Office Assistant, in addition to her

    current duties. It has involved the development of protocols and standard forms to enable the system to run. ? Not all students require this part of the service since they use either friends or family as their identified non-

    medical support.

    ? Training of support staff is an integral part of managing this pool of support workers

    ? The largest single group within the caseload is dyslexic students who require a considerable amount of screening

    and assessment before they acquire their DSA‟s. Much of the cost of this assessment is borne by the Hardship

    Fund. In order to lessen the financial outlay and to give students the chance for assessment in the least difficult

    location, we now have an arrangement with an Ed Psych who visits the University College regularly to do

    assessments.

    ? In a similar fashion, we now have arrangements with both a Community Psychiatric Nurse and an assessor

    working through the Bridgend Access Centre, so that both Students with Mental Health issues and other students

    can have their Needs Assessment done locally, rather than travelling long distances and having to wait

    sometimes for a couple of months. This means that the students can function and learn effectively at the earliest

    opportunity, thus reducing pressure on themselves and staff.

5. Further Examples of Provision for Students

    ? The Disability Support Office has produced a guide for students who are applying for a DSA

    ? QuickScan, a tool for initial self-diagnosis of dyslexia, is available on all open access computers and is widely

    used by students

    ? Any applicant or possible applicant to the University College is invited to a personal meeting with the Disability

    Support Office during the application process

6. Building Links with relevant external agencies and institutions

    ? Bath Spa University College was one of nine HE institutions participating in the South West Academic Network

    for Disability Support (SWANDS). This HEFCE funded project enabled a series of regular meetings of

    academic and support staff, hosted by the participating institutions, and the publication of a handbook SENDA

    Compliance in Higher Education: An audit and guidance tool for accessible practice within the framework of

    teaching and learning. The publication which has been circulated to schools and selected departments deals with

    key areas of responsibility for those involved in course delivery, ranging from course development to assessment,

    fieldwork and placements. A further similar project involving some of the same institutions in the South West, is

    currently being planned.

    ? The University College is an active participant in the South West DSA group, consisting of representatives from

    HE institutions and local education authorities. Meetings take place approximately every three months and

    enable policy and practical implementation to be discussed and refined. The last meeting was hosted by the

    University College.

    ? We have good links with a range of local HE institutions and regularly share good practice and develop policy.

    ANNEX C

NUMBER OF DISABLED STUDENTS AT THE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE

There is no way of being certain how many students with disabilities are registered since disclosure is entirely

    voluntary.

The disabled students who are known to the Disability Office are generally those who might be disadvantaged in

    their studies if we did not take steps to support them as individuals or make reasonable adjustments.

Students who are not liable to experience any disadvantage would not necessarily need to speak to the Disability

    Office.

The coordinated records of the Disability Office and the Registry show a very significant increase in the numbers

    over the three years of the project (Table 1).

    Table 1: Increases in numbers of disabled students at Bath Spa University College

     July 2000 July 2001 July 2002 Dec 2002

    Number of 250 303

    disabled

    students

    Number of <10 60 120 143

    DSA’s *

    Number of 7 14

    support staff

    * DSA = Disabled Student Allowance

    December 2002 figure includes 15 pending cases

Returns show that the 303 current students have a wide range of disabilities (Table 2). The categories of „hidden‟ and

    „other‟ include Cerebral Palsy, Asperger‟s Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, Meniere‟s Disease, Stills and

    Epilepsy.

    Table 2: Frequency of Disabilities at Bath Spa University College December 2002

    Dyslexia 194

    Hidden 30

    Other 39

    Multiple 10

    Restricted mobility 5

    Hearing Impairment 12

    Visual Impairment 3

    Mental Health 10

The Disabled Student Allowance

Where a student might be disadvantaged or unable to participate fully, as a result of their disability, the most

    common form of action is the application of a Disabled Student Allowance (DSA).

    As Table 1 (above) shows, there has been a very large increase, over the past three years, in the number of students with a DSA.

The majority of these students require support from the Disability Support Office:

    1. 76 students currently receive support from support and dyslexia support staff 2. 11 students are receiving IT support

    3. The number of hours‟ support each student receives per week ranges from one to twenty

    An unknown number of students use their relatives or friends as support. Such support staff are paid at the same rates and using the same procedures as those coordinated through the Disability Office.

    It is important to note that other groups of students, who are not eligible for a DSA (such as International students), are covered by the legislation.

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