Week 14: Activity 28.1: Seale Chapter 9 / Training
What was effective or ineffective about the staff training event/resource?
I have attended training events with three different organisations. The best courses were flexible, modular and led by experts who were trained in the field and very experienced.
The best training I experienced was one with an agency working with students who had hearing or visual impairments or Asperger Syndrome. The training covered lectures and practical sessions but was then followed by a short presentation by a notetaker and three students who used the agency's services. The students talked about the things that had helped them and the things that they especially liked or disliked. They were happy to answer questions at the end and very open about their disabilities. The course participants were very enthusiastic about the benefits of the session and said that it really brought to life all the information that they had learnt in the previous sessions.
To what extent did the following factors influence the effectiveness of the experience for you: content or focus; structure or presentation; role or expertise of the leaders/developers?
One was an official training with the aim of taking notetaking qualifications at the end of the course. The qualifications were aimed at notetaking for deaf people but the job role was working with people who had hearing or visual impairments so the training consisted in lectures for both subjects where we were assisted to notetake correctly. In this way we practiced the skill whilst learning about both impairments. Practical exercises were also included.
Time and cost had an effect on the training. One training was held an hours drive from me and I was expected to attend for 5 days with no pay. This was difficult at the time. The Open University training was held over two days with a choice of week or weekend. There was a small payment plus travel expenses and accommodation. This made life much easier!
Some of the best leaders were people who had worked for years in the area or people with personal experience of the impairments.
Use your reflections and answers to Question 1 to develop a conceptualisation of what you think makes or defines an effective accessibility-related training event/resource and an effective trainer or staff developer.
I like the Open University training for support workers with a compulsory two day workshop-style training every two years with an online detailed training for specific impairments and situations. Experienced trainers are essential and the opportunity to discuss general support needs with students has been welcomed in all the situations I have experienced.
Should accessibility-related staff development be made compulsory for all those who work in post-16 education?
What are the reasons behind your answers?
I would like to see training as outlined above with a mixture of compulsory and voluntary modules with the compulsory modules being aligned to the staff role. For example a lecturer may have compulsory sessions in general disability training; designing accessible materials for the university learning environment; but also be encouraged to build up a portfolio of knowledge with more specific trainings such as accessibility needs for particular impairments; evaluation tools etc.
What do you think are the pros and cons of making accessibility-related staff development compulsory?
- Staff can feel more confident about their approach to producing materials that will be accessible by their students
- Students are empowered because the material is generally accessible and they only have to ask for one or two adjustments.
- Students are aware that they are asking staff who are already knowledgeable about the area and do not have to start with the basics
- The university can be confident that all staff are trained
- Busy staff can resent additional training and this resentment can be transferred to the students that they see causing this extra work.
- Discussing disability in isolation makes it seem like an additional problem - not part of the spectrum of students.