Disability support at University of Sheffield to be improved

A review of the University of Sheffield’s system to support disabled students has found it to be inadequate. 

Results from a survey conducted by the Disability Strategy Steering Group in early 2021 found that the Learning Support Plans (LSP) under the university’s Disability and Dyslexia Support Service (DDSS) were not being adhered to. 

LSPs are created by the DDSS after a consultation with the student to support the needs of the student. LSPs are then distributed to the student’s department through the Disability Liaison Officer (DLO). 

However, 14.4% of students surveyed felt their LSPs were not at all being followed. Only 10% of students surveyed felt their LSPs were being completely followed and another 45% felt it was only being partially followed. 

Students reported they felt staff seemed unaware of their LSPs and extended deadlines. 

Several students also did not have access to advanced slides that would have assisted them through their disabilities.

It was found that LSPs not being forwarded to a student’s department of study was a common occurrence. 

LSPs may not be forwarded if the DLO is on holiday, DLOs are changing over or simply due to confusion over which DLO must forward the LSP. 

A new system of sharing and storing LSPs has been developed. It is currently underway in the Faculty of Engineering, Science, Arts and Humanities and Department of Journalism Studies.

Mark Lubelski, Senior Advisor to the DDSS, said: “We expect to implement the system in the remaining two faculties (Medicine, Dentistry and Health and Social Sciences) in advance of the start of 2022-23.”

The Learning Support Plans and Alternative Exam Arrangements system is still being developed but it is reported to be “already working well”.

LSPs will be automatically uploaded to the new system by the DDSS. It will then be automatically shared to all the relevant departments so students do not have to worry about chasing it up. 

Any updates to a LSP will be automatically updated and the system will also notify the relevant staff of the update.

 

Written by Shakthi Thyagarajan

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