Imperial College London
2nd December 2019 by Catia Neves
What was the challenge?
Imperial College London, in collaboration with D&A, set up and delivered a project to refresh their information technology offering to both staff and students. With the focus on inclusive technology – the challenge was to choose software and applications that could be made widely available to enhance the learning, teaching and research experience across campus.
What did we do?
“D&A were able to bring their perspective and expertise into the discussion,” says Hannah Bannister, Director of Student Services, at Imperial College London.
“The conversation started with the need to update what we could provide for disabled students but it very quickly expanded to become an inclusivity project. In the same way that we all learn differently, we all use technology and look for ways to use it to suit our own needs and preferences.
“They helped to win the understanding and support of colleagues from various different constituent parts of the College; we developed a shared understanding of why we needed to do this project, the importance of an inclusive rather than disability focused approach and what we should be looking for in terms of outcomes.
“D&A carefully advised us on a selection of software and apps to be networked, based on the needs of our students and staff, the courses we offer and the College environment,” Hannah said.
Mike Horner, the Service Line Manager (Education) for Information & Communication Technologies, added that “it was important for us to ensure that the software would be available on different platforms and devices, both on and off-campus. From securing the right licences to the networking of the tools, D&A accompanied us every step of the way.
“Their insight into Disablement and (neuro)diversity was critical in highlighting the importance of this project, drawing the conversation away from disability, to difference. It was a really important shift we needed to make to ensure the inclusion of all our staff and students. Disclosure rates around hidden differences at Imperial are statistically lower than reflected in the general population, so we needed to be proactive in addressing and anticipating hidden needs.
“This project shone a light on the actions we can make as institutions and in our own work to ensure accessibility and inclusion. The IT infrastructure facilitates learning, access to resources and information, communication and so much more. Acknowledging that people learn differently, it is our duty as an educational institution to ensure that our students have access to the tools they need to succeed.” Mike said.
What were the benefits of our approach?
“We have now got a fantastic range of tools and resources in place that staff and students can use to support all aspects of their learning or teaching. Alongside this, D&A have been providing in-depth training for small groups to illustrate how the tools can be used effectively in integration with essential study skills. These sessions are open and accessible to all and are designed to get our students ‘study ready’.
“This is a great triumph, where we can proudly say that our Institution is ready, willing and able to support all of our students to reach their potential, whether they have a formal diagnosis or not!” Hannah said.
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