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Disability Services Manager launches book to improve support for disabled students

Catholic universities respond to post-pandemic alienation, injustice and market economics

Stephen Campbell, Disability Service Manager at Leeds Trinity University, has published a new book to help ensure disabled students are supported throughout their time in mainstream higher education. 

Supporting Disabled Students in Higher Education: The Reasonable Adjustments Handbook is aimed at all staff working within higher education institutions and advises on how to adapt everyday professional practices to be inclusive of disabled students and make the higher education experience more accessible. 

Informed entirely by Stephen’s work and academic research during a 16-year career in student support and disability services, the book raises awareness of the difficulties faced by and requirements of disabled students. It also encourages higher education colleagues to take personal responsibility for making environments more inclusive by learning about and applying reasonable changes to their work.

Since joining Leeds Trinity University, Stephen has introduced a range of new policies to improve the support systems in place. Leeds Trinity no longer accesses the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA), this means the University can now provide the support requested without needing to compete for funding or ask for proof of disability. Stephen also reformed the old ‘Learning Support Plan’ to the current ‘Student Inclusion Plan’, giving a voice to disabled student on how they would like to be supported. This book is his latest effort to make higher education more welcoming and accommodating for those with disabilities. 

Stephen said: “When I started at Leeds Trinity, it became apparent that there were no books like this available on the market, it was just a matter of doing your own thing and hoping for the best without any guidance for professional practice. I decided there was no reason I should not fill that gap.

 “The book doesn’t aim to train anyone into becoming a disability specialist, but to generate greater awareness of the subtleties of disability. We still live in a society which sees disablement as being intrinsic, which is to say, ‘if you are disabled, then the disabling element of it starts and ends with you,’ rather than the wider environment. If somebody reads the book and opens their eyes to their individual responsibility, then that would be a good enough impact, even if it just changes their idea about what disablement is.”

Toby Chelms, Head of Student Support and Wellbeing at Leeds Trinity, said:

“Provision of support for disabled students requires clear understanding from a range of staff within a university setting and Stephen’s book provides a clear structure and guidance which I’m sure will be of benefit to UK institutions. Stephen has guided the Leeds Trinity University disability service through substantial change which we are already seeing positive responses for amongst our staff and students, and I foresee this great work continuing into the 2023/24 academic year.”

For more information and to purchase Stephen’s book, visit the Routledge website.

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