[BCAB] cuts to disabled student allowance - what to do about it

M Lakhani muzz.lakhani at googlemail.com
Fri May 16 19:22:22 BST 2014


May I please reiterate the need for lobbying the government ? Sorry all, but this is the only way to do something !
Many thanks
Muzz 

Sent from my iPhone

> On 16 May 2014, at 13:37, "David Griffith" <d.griffith at btinternet.com> wrote:
> 
> Dear Richard 
> 
> Resourceful people will tend to overcome barriers but see Peter White's
> biography  for an alternative experience of trying to complete a Law degree
> without assistance  and he eventually dropped out of Southampton I think.
> Interestingly though he shares your keenness for women to read to him!
> 
> When I was doing my Masters some other Law LLM student  claimed that my
> assistive technology gave me an advantage over then, and was part of the
> reason I was getting superior marks. The argument was that because I was
> able to listen to a long chapter on Employment Law on say implied contracts
> I assimilated this better than them. I  regarded this as nonsense and belied
> the reality of my fighting to stay awake during some of these. I well
> remember my son giving me  a kick whilst I was  snoring on the floor whilst
> Jaws was babbling out stuff on Immigration Law through a pair of headphones.
> 
> 
> On top of this I did  a considerable amount of my own scanning using an
> admittedly high tech camera system. This meant I had to put extra effort in
> before I could even get to the stage where a sighted student could simply
> pick up a book and start reading it. I also  had to do nearly all my own
> proofing as support workers were rarely up to this.
> 
> The reality then is that I had to work harder to get the same results. Like
> you I recorded lectures and noted them afterwards.  This effectively more
> than doubled the time I had to devote to assimilating lectures. As you say
> you end up knowing your stuff but at considerably extra effort. If I had
> been at proficient  braille I would have been much more efficient  note
> taking during lectures.
> 
> To compete then you need energy drive , commitment and possibly extra
> skills. The nature of some disabilities means this is not always available.
> The sad fact is that whilst I tried to advise younger blind students
> undertaking LLBs at my University many of them were not as resourceful and
> tended to get defeated at the barriers they were experiencing. I do not know
> if they were eventually successful but I am convinced that they would not
> have achieved graduation without considerable extra support. Given that the
> majority of this support was simply about getting them onto a level playing
> field with  sighted students I think this support was valid.
> 
> David Griffith
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bcab [mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of Richard
> Godfrey-McKay
> Sent: 16 May 2014 12:53
> To: 'BCAB Discussion List'
> Subject: Re: [BCAB] cuts to disabled student allowance - what to do about it
> 
> Hope this isn't getting too off-topic!
> 
> When I took my degree and Law society finals in the early 70s, there were no
> PC's, and no DSA.  
> 
> I Got volunteer readers to tape textbooks, as there were hardly any
> up-to-date Braille books.  
> I taped lectures and noted them in the evenings.
> 
> I put up notices in the women's colleges requesting volunteers who read on a
> rotor basis.  It was a great way to get to know other students well.  
> 
>  It took a lot of time, but you really knew your stuff adopting this
> process.
> 
> Richard
> 
> Richard Godfrey-McKay
> 
> Telephone: 01738-445 880
> 
> Mobile: 07791 452 593
> 
> 
> 
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bcab [mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of
> Nick.Adamson at generaldynamics.uk.com
> Sent: 16 May 2014 09:17
> To: bcab at lists.bcab.org.uk
> Subject: Re: [BCAB] cuts to disabled student allowance - what to do about it
> 
> Hi All.
> When I was a student, and granted I was doing a techy course, everyone on
> the course had a laptop or computer and there for I'd agree with the idea
> that getting a computer on its own probably should be outside the DSA remit.
> The argument that a blind person needs a computer/laptop with a higher spec
> isn't really true. Most of the screen readers for windows will run on a
> computer capable of running windows and most computers now are pretty darn
> powerful beasts, yep, even the cheaper end of the market.
> When it comes to screen readers and access tech then IMO that's precisely
> what the DSA is for. Same for a scanner and OCR software, as graham says
> most students won't need this.
> 
> Access to library resources is an interesting one. Again because of the
> technical nature of my course scanning never really worked well. I got
> better results by being organised. The way I generally did it was to contact
> lecturers as soon as I could, almost always before the first lecture. I'd
> ask for the reading list and see if I could get an electronic copy of the
> books in question. This should be even easier nowadays but 14 years ago when
> I was at uni I contacted the publishers, and once or twice even the authors,
> to try to get a copy. Generally this worked well.
> 
> Agreed that diagrams are a problem and I actually found better results in
> booking a session with the lecturer in question to go through the diagrams
> as they had a much better understanding of the content compared to an
> assistant. I never found a lecturer unwilling to do this as long as they
> felt I was willing and trying hard.
> I'm also not convinced that the argument that we need someone to carry are
> stuff for us is truly valid. I got a laptop case which was a rucksack and
> didn't have a problem carting it round along with my Guide dog.
> 
> In terms of non-medical assistance I did have a little need for this, For my
> first term at Uni I had an x student as a guide and to take notes until my
> laptop turned up. After the first term I didn't need this as I'd made
> friends on my course and generally new my way around the campus. If a
> lecture had been moved to a room I didn't know one of my mates would be more
> than happy to give a quick hand but this was no different from finding a new
> pub I'd not been to, as integral part of been a student as the lectures.
> 
> I know my experience will be different from others but I back the argument
> that says students should try to be as independent as possible, learning
> this sort of self-reliance at uni is good preparation for work.
> 
> In summary the DSA in some form is still a must but I do think it needs to
> change to encourage independence. In the end It should be used to give
> enough support that a disabled student is on a playing level field with
> their sighted mates and there for the outcome of the course comes down to
> skill and hard work.
> 
> Just my thoughts, hopefully I've included enough techy stuff to keep this on
> topic.
> Thanks.
> Nick.
> 
> Nick Adamson
> Software Engineer
> Engineering - Vehicle Systems 
> 
> General Dynamics United Kingdom Limited
> Bryn Brithdir, Oakdale Business Park, Blackwood, South Wales, NP12 4AA
> Telephone: 01495 236467
> Email: 
> nick.adamson at generaldynamics.uk.com
> Website: www.generaldynamics.uk.com
> Please consider the environment before printing this email 
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bcab [mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of Graham Page
> Sent: Thursday, 15 May 2014 11:33
> To: 'BCAB Discussion List'
> Subject: Re: [BCAB] cuts to disabled student allowance - what to do about it
> 
> Hi Barry.
> 
> I think the argument about carrying equipment is rather tenuous.  I also do
> question the need for note takers in many cases.  Part of being a student is
> being able to take your own notes!  Lecturers do need to make their material
> more accessible.  If they use complex graphs during lectures then they need
> to be accesible to students and the lecturer should describe what a graph or
> a diagram shows.
> 
> I do accept, however, that some people with dyslexia may need asistance
> taking notes or perhaps they should be given useable notes by the lecturer.
> The same applies to people with physical disabilities.
> 
> On the technological side, a visually impaired person will need a note
> taking device.  Light weight laptops are generally more expensive than a
> desk top PC.  Most sighted students would not have a scanner.  Library staff
> may not have time to spend, say, a couple of hours with a student at a time
> going through relevant books looking for chapters relating to information
> that  a student requires.  once the student has selected material, with the
> help of a librarian, that material would need to be scanned and presented in
> an accessible way including explanation of graphs and diagrams.
> 
> I could go on, but the point is that the lack of consultation on this
> proposed change is scary.
> 
> One of the things that RNIB does relatively well is campaigning and I trust
> that RNIB is giving these proposed changes their full attention as in their
> current form they must surely be disasterous for visually impaired students
> as well as students with other disabilities.
> 
> Cheers
> 
> Graham
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bcab [mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of Barry Hill
> Sent: 14 May 2014 22:56
> To: 'BCAB Discussion List'
> Subject: Re: [BCAB] cuts to disabled student allowance - what to do about it
> 
> Some access equipment is still ridiculously expensive, such as magnification
> kit.  Plus, even if some of it, such as laptops, are very affordable, a
> visual impaired person on their own with a lot of access kit is a rather
> venerable easy target.  Granted, a PA isn't there for protection, but it
> could be argued that a visual impaired student would need someone to carry
> their kit safely.
> 
> Also, having been a VI student myself, with the room and building changes
> term after term, I never actually managed to independently get to lectures.
> 
>  Am I right in thinking that Mr Willetts is the Education Minister?  I'm
> very cynical as to its effectiveness, but us all independently writing to
> him could be a start.  After that, we could write to the Minister for
> Disabilities and our own MP's.  Perhaps we could even write to  University
> Bursars.
> 
> Cheers
> 
> Barry
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bcab [mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of Graham Page
> Sent: 14 May 2014 12:06 PM
> To: 'BCAB Discussion List'
> Subject: [BCAB] cuts to disabled student allowance - what to do about it
> 
> Hi all.
> 
> 
> 
> I realise of course that this list is about technology not politics, but
> anyone who heard In Touch last night can't fail to be alarmed by the latest
> proposed cuts to disabled students allowance.
> 
> 
> 
> I think the way in which the scheme is run does indeed need severe
> modification.  Laptops are more commonly available than they used to be and
> there is more help out there with technology and training.  We have a lot of
> companies providing equipment and support to disabled students at the moment
> at rather high prices, support isn't what it could be sometimes and yes I do
> think that often lecturers could do more to make their material accessible.
> Some are better than others of course.
> 
> 
> 
> Despite the need for some changes though, I do think cuts in reader support
> and assistance with tasks such as finding material in the library could be
> potentially disasterou.  Students in my opinion require the ability to scan
> information themselves but they also need sighted help to do things like
> correcting scanning errors and explaining graphs and diagrams.  David
> Willetts should know that not all text books, or even the majority of them,
> are available in an accessible format online.  This was, sadly, not really
> discussed on in[-touch.
> 
> 
> 
> Do these cuts need to be approved by parliament?  is there any organised
> campaign in existance looking at this issue?  David willetts says
> universities should be able to foot the bill for this but that's totally
> unreasonable in my view.  They can get lecturers to make coursework
> available in accessible formats but making books accessible is more tricky.
> 
> 
> 
> 
> I think  there's a bit of a credibility gap with Mr. Willetts.  When the
> £9000 tuition fees cap was introduced he did say he envisages a situation
> where universities charge different amounts but everyone apart from the
> government knew that all of them would want to charge the same so they
> wouldn't appear to offer inferior education.  I don't think therefore we can
> take any ofhis assurances too seriously.
> 
> 
> 
> My question really then is what can we do to try and make the government
> change their minds?
> 
> 
> 
> Regards
> 
> 
> 
> Graham
> 
> 
> 
> Graham Page
> 
> 
> 
> Mobile: 07753 607980
> 
> 
> 
> Fax:  0870 706 2773
> 
> 
> 
> Email: gpage at useit.plus.com
> 
> 
> 
> Skype: gabriel_mcbird
> 
> Twitter: @gabrielmcbird
> 
> 
> 
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