We have extensive experience speaking at events and conferences, working with organisations and bodies like Westminster Insight, NADP, WonkHE, Disability Rights Advice TV and the International Network of Inclusive Practice. We ensure that the disabled student perspective is represented at events concerning areas that impact disabled students and can speak on a variety of topics such as individual experiences, university/SU structures and our research. Here is a presentation we created for a conference on Mental health in Higher Education in April 2021
Research is one of our biggest strengths. Our report on the COVID-19 impact on disabled students was widely distributed in the sector and has been highlighted in parliamentary contexts and included in publications by various commissions. Our evidence-based approach has attracted significant interest from key stakeholders, resulting in invitations to collaborate with the Disabled Students’ Commission and present at the APPG for Disability. For clients, we are able to provide premium access to our research conclusions and lend our expertise to research projects, both for accessibility consultants and university-based researchers.
We are able to deliver training on a variety of topics such as an ableism 101 workshop, the relationship between disability law and the student experience, disability history and the support and engagement of disabled students at university. Each training session can be tailored to the individual needs of your university or Students’ Union.
As an example, we are delivering a session within the NUS Lead & Change 2021 programme on how to support disabled students and how to tackle some of the key issues from the perspective of incoming sabbatical officers.
Policy on Paid Services
DSUK will not provide services where
- Our services will be used in a way that does not benefit our members or has a net negative impact on our members
- We are not fairly compensated for our work
- Our name will be used without our expertise having any real influence (tokenism)
Disabled Students UK contains some of the UK’s leading experts in HE accessibility, with years of experience in research, public speaking and consulting.
Yet many of us have been asked to do unpaid labour for years, to provide free access consulting for our department or university. Ultimately such requests originate from the idea that access for disabled students is a charity rather than a right.
We do not work pro-bono when dealing with established organisations. As an organisation, we need to generate income in order for our work to be sustainable. We also recognize our own expertise and worth on the market. Not only do we have some of the UK’s leading experts but we have data that is unique in the sector, a reach that is unique in the sector and hence insight that is unique in the sector.
We come to clients neither from above nor below but as partners, ready to offer the services they need.
Disabled Students UK contains some of the UK’s leading experts in HE accessibility, with years of experience in research, public speaking and consulting. In addition to our charitable work with and for disabled students, we provide a number of paid services for organisations, bodies, businesses, charities and institutions. To enquire about our services and pricing please contact us at [email protected].
The last 5 years have seen a sharp increase in disabled students, a trend that will only continue as we live with the consequences of the pandemic. The same period has also seen an increase in reports of HE inaccessibility. Institutions are faced with questions of how to meet the needs of their students and reduce the legal and reputational risk associated with inaccessibility.
The pandemic has shown us a way forward. Universal measures implemented for all have increased accessibility for disabled students, along with a number of other marginalised groups. Many institutions are now considering how they can maintain the progress made and continue to improve accessibility.
The Access Insight Project allows universities to benefit from the insight of disabled students using an evidence based approach, enabling universities to improve accessibility in a proactive and cost effective manner.
The project evaluates disabled students’ experiences within the institution to provide valuable information about areas of strength and challenges. Through gathering information from a variety of institutions Access Insight also helps institutions understand which accessibility policies are associated with successful outcomes. The results are updated yearly, tracking any progress.
The project was created because of three factors:
- There is currently a lack of data on accessibility in the sector. We cannot fix an issue that we do not understand.
- Disabled students have invaluable knowledge about what works and does not work in the area of accessibility. We see this every day in our work.
- The most efficient solutions to inaccessibility are structural. Having information about structural issues and solutions gives universities the opportunity to address accessibility strategically rather than as an add-on. This not only saves money and time, it also improves morale as staff are able to focus on what matters rather than fixing messes and dealing with complaints.
Higher Education Providers that sign up to our Access Insight Network make a financial contribution to the project and, in return receive a membership package that allows it to effectively tackle inaccessibility, including:
- A yearly tailored report with recommendations for how the institution can move forward based on disabled students’ experiences at the institution.
- A monthly Access Insight brief with informative videos from lived experience experts.
- 6 hours of DSUK consulting tailored to the HEPs key improvement goals.
- Becoming part of the Access Insights Network with permission to use the AIN logo on your university website
- 15% discount on DSUK training and workshops
DSUK is currently looking for pioneering institutions to take part in the pilot. By becoming an Access Insight Member, you send a clear message to your disabled students and invest in efficient ways of improving their access.
- Reducing accessibility costs
- Avoiding costs associated with legal processes, complaints and crisis management
- Increasing funding from OfS by attracting more disabled students
- Improving accessibility rankings
- Increasing student satisfaction (NSS) and student performance (TEF)
- Avoiding media scandals, OIA/OfS interventions and legal challenges
- Benefitting from the academic contributions of an underutilised population
- Providing disabled students with an equitable experience
- Reducing the disability employment gap
- Accessibility improves the experience of all students
If you want to learn more, email us on [email protected]
Our Mission: To achieve a truly accessible Higher Education experience, ensuring disabled people have equal access to education and the societal and self-development opportunities associated with this.
Disabled Students UK has quickly become the largest disabled student-led organisation in the UK. We are made up of almost 500 current and former disabled students from 60 different Higher Education Providers. Due to this and our evidence-based approach, decision-makers have repeatedly approached us for consultation. We use disabled-led expertise to increase accessibility in Higher Education. We achieve this through empowering disabled students, spreading disabled students’ insights into accessibility and informing policy.
From rather humble beginnings, through our community’s dedication, commitment, and collaborative practices, we are already having an impact on the sector. A few of our key achievements over the last two years have included:
● Our report “Impact of the Pandemic on Disabled Students and Recommended Measures (Disabled Students UK, 2020) being mentioned in Parliament;
● Leading training for Student Union Staff on Tackling Disability Issues and supporting Disabled Students;
● Being recognised in the Disability Power 100 list as one of Britain’s most influential disabled-led organisations (The Shaw Trust, 2021).
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