The Process of Accessing the Disability and Dyslexia Service at USW: Outcomes of a Collaborative Pilot Study

Beth Pickard, Val Norris

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


A recent report suggests that there is a 7.4% discrepancy between students declaring a disability and students accessing specialist support in higher education in Wales (WAG, 2017). This was recognised by lecturers on the BA(Hons) Creative and Therapeutic Arts (CTA) programme who experienced many students identifying as having additional learning needs, but many fewer engaging with specialist support for their learning. It is noted that specific learning difficulties may be more prevalent in creative subjects (Tobias-Green, 2014), which further prompted a collaboration between the CTA team and the USW Disability and Dyslexia Service (DDS) to understand student experiences. The collaboration highlighted that students were having difficulty in understanding the complex process of accessing specialist support through DDS. While the outcome of the process can be incredibly valuable to students, potentially making students more likely to complete their studies successfully and making a significant positive impact on overall performance (WAG, 2017), this model still perpetuates a medicalised, deficit-based interpretation of disability. While transforming the systemic approach to disability is a significant endeavour (Bolt and Penketh, 2017) and is beyond the scope of this presentation, steps were taken to support students in understanding the existing process more effectively through the development of a visual infographic outlining the six key steps involved in accessing DDS support. It is hoped that this resource will support students’ engagement with the current process and enable them to more readily access the valuable support available through DDS. The infographic will be shared and feedback welcomed from the audience.In considering an increasingly inclusive learning environment for students on the CTA degree and beyond, principles of universal design will be shared (UDLL, 2016) as well as plans for future collaborations with DDS which will explore the viability of some proactive methods of developing an inclusive learning environment (Grace and Gravestock, 2009; HEA, 2011; WAG, 2017).

ReferencesBolt, D. and Penketh, C. (Eds) (2017), Disability, Avoidance and the Academy: Challenging Resistance, Oxon: Routledge
Grace, S. and Gravestock, P. (2009), Inclusion and Diversity: Meeting the Needs of All Students, London: Routledge
Higher Education Authority (HEA) (2011), Inclusive Curriculum Design in Higher Education
Tobias-Green, K. (2014), ‘The Role of the Agreement: Art Students, Dyslexia, Reading and Writing’, Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education, 13(2), p. 189 – 199 
UDLL (2016), Universal Design for Learning: A Best Practice Guideline
Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) (2017), ‘A Review of the Disabled Students’ Allowances’ [online], Available at Accessed 4th April 2018
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2018
EventUSW Learning and Teaching Conference 2018 - USW Conference Centre, Treforest, United Kingdom
Duration: 29 Jun 201829 Jun 2018


ConferenceUSW Learning and Teaching Conference 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • disability
  • inclusive practice
  • pedagogy
  • specialist support
  • universal design


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