Before starting at ARU in Cambridge I was a Teacher of the Deaf, and I wanted to extend my knowledge and skills to learn about other disabilities. When I found my current role, as a Disability Adviser, I was very interested, and I’ve been able to learn a lot during my time here.
In my role I offer disabled students the reasonable adjustments they need to mitigate the impacts of their disabilities on study, enabling them to access the curriculum on an equal basis. This means writing a summary of reasonable adjustments which informs teaching staff and other departments how to support our students best. We offer training on aspects of disabilities to all ARU teaching staff and other relevant departments. In my role I act as a liaison with our Faculty of Science and Engineering.
In addition, I also help our students apply for Disabled Students Allowance, and I regularly provide support on a one-to-one basis to individual students.
In my team I have colleagues who do the same for ARU students with dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties, who also link with the other faculties.
I’m currently running a peer support group for students on the autistic spectrum, which I’m really enjoying. In my role I really enjoy feeling as though I’ve made a different for a student, but finding both practical and effective solutions to allow them to access their course on an equal footing with other students.
When students acknowledge my part in their university experience it’s a huge bonus. Every year our Students’ Union run ‘Made a Difference’ Awards, where our students nominate inspirational and life-changing ARU Staff. I’ve been nominated for an award twice, and won once, which is a great reflection of the impact of my work.
I’m well supported by a great manager and a team I really love working with. Over the years I’ve attended as many conferences as possible to learn about different disabilities and assistive software to help assist our students further. I’ve also learned from experience meeting many of our inspiring students.
I think ARU is ahead of the game when it comes to supporting non-traditional students. A lot of feedback from our students mentions how welcoming and supportive our community is. Sometimes our students arrive at ARU having not received the right support at another institution, and we work hard to contribute to their success during their time with us.
If I could share one piece of advice, I’d tell people there’s always someone who can help with a problem, so never hesitate to ask!
Jane is one of #OurPeople. If you're interested in working at ARU, visit our jobs page to read about our culture and values, and browse current vacancies.