Disability History Month
Raising awareness around Specific Learning Difficulties
This Disability History Month we’re raising awareness of hidden disabilities in the form of Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs). Many of our students and staff have SpLDs, which can affect their approach to work and learning as well as their personal and professional life.
Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs), affect the way information is learned and processed. They are neurological rather than psychological, and are often hereditary. They can have significant impact on education and learning and on the acquisition of literacy skills.
SpLD is an umbrella term used to cover a range of frequently co-occurring difficulties, more commonly:
Dyslexia is a combination of abilities and difficulties; the difficulties affect the learning process in aspects of literacy and sometimes numeracy.
Dyspraxia / DCD
Dyspraxia affects motor skills that govern balance and coordination and the manipulation of objects. Making these skills difficult to learn and retain.
Dyscalculia affects basic aspects of arithmetical skills. Difficulties lie in the reception, comprehension, or production of quantitative and spatial information.
ADD / ADHD
AD(H)D exists with or without hyperactivity. In most cases people are often ‘of task’, have particular difficulty commencing and switching tasks, together with a very short attention span and high levels of distractibility. They may fail to make effective use of the feedback they receive and have weak listening skills.
Supporting our students
Our University SpLD Tutorial Service includes a team of seven specialist teachers from the English Language Teaching Centre, who provide one to one tutorials for students with specific learning difficulties: dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia and ADHD.
Students are referred from the Disability and Dyslexia Support Service (DDSS) once they have been diagnosed.
The service runs bookable sessions once a week for students who are waiting for a full needs assessment or diagnostic assessment, offering 30 minute appointments with a specialist tutor.
Staff awareness training is also delivered through a Supporting the Supporters session: ‘Academic Support for Dyslexic Students and Students with Specific Learning Difficulties’.
The Service is currently constructing an online training portal called INK that will be launched at the next Learning and Teaching Conference in January. Any member of staff will be able to access it to learn more about specific learning difficulties.
The University SpLD Tutorial Service also provides up to five one-to-one tutorials for staff who identify with having a SpLD or staff who think they might have one. In order to book an appointment, staff need to approach their line manager as the cost for these sessions is met by the individual’s department. However, if a colleague is uncomfortable in discussing tutorial support with their line-manager, we may be able to explore other options.
Introducing your new guide to Specific Learning Difficulties
Students with Specific Learning Difficulties working alongside the specialist tutors from the English Language Teaching have designed and produced a magazine, ‘The SpLD Times’, to start a conversation about learning differently, raise awareness of neurodiversity and provide strategies for inclusive teaching.
In this edition you can discover inspirational interviews with University alumni who talk openly about their specific learning difference, what they wish everyone knew about SpLDs and how nothing needs stop you achieving your potential. The newsletter also has information about how to access support at the University, information about how SpLDs affect learning, and introduces the SpLD tutors and the work they do.
A central feature in this edition is an interview with our Vice-President for Education, Professor Wyn Morgan. He shares his thoughts on adapting to meet the needs of all learners but accepts the challenges in communicating with and supporting students who learn differently:
“It’s not about redesigning everything for every student; it's about being inclusive in our practices, inclusive in ways that make the classroom experience, and indeed the online experience, approachable for all students.”
You can also read an interview with Deputy Vice-President for Education, Brendan Stone talks about disability in the workplace and in student life in an interview. You can also watch his video on specific learning difficulties:
The University is committed to attracting, growing and engaging with talented people from diverse backgrounds at every level. As part of this commitment the University recognises the importance of inclusivity within the University community, to ensure that all can flourish and reach their full potential.
The University has guidance available to help managers understand the issues around disability and to support staff with a disability. This also includes information around promoting positive attitudes to disability and making reasonable adjustments.