The purpose of this Disability Equality Scheme is to make sure that the needs of people with impairments are taken into account as the University changes and grows, so that we "help all students and staff achieve their potential."
The University's original Scheme for 2006-2009 was the University's first attempt to review its current provision for people with impairments and to identify what needs to be done to eliminate barriers in the light of its overall institutional strategy. The Action Plan for 2006-2009 set out detailed objectives to be achieved. The 2006-2009 Scheme has been reviewed (see Appendix 1) and a new Action Plan has been created for 2009-2012.
As with the original scheme, we have adopted a social model of disability. This focuses attention on the ways in which the 'problem' of disability is produced not by the impairments of individuals but by the way in which society organises itself. This in turn rests on attitudes and assumptions that create self-perpetuating barriers by preventing people with impairments from fully participating in social living.
It is important that impairments are not viewed as homogeneous, because this may in itself be disabling. The impairments that we need to accommodate are various, even conflicting, and must be addressed in different ways. For example, the needs of people with dyspraxia are not the same as those of people with hearing disorders, while kerb cuts for wheelchair users may be a hindrance to blind or partially-sighted people who use walking-sticks. Moreover, being able-bodied is a temporary state. Many people have some impairment and almost all will acquire more serious impairments during their life-times, from ill health or old age. There is not a clear dividing line between the impaired and the unimpaired, but a spectrum along which everyone moves back and forth in the course of time.
The University takes pride in its pursuit of excellence in research, teaching and the application of knowledge. It currently has around 13,000 students and 3200 staff. It is campus-based, with a high proportion (currently over 35%, 4612 in total), of its students resident in University accommodation, which is organized into eight Colleges. The University is currently undertaking significant expansion, which will double the size of the estate and increase student and staff numbers by around 50% by 2015/16. At the same time the University plans to increase the percentage of overseas students from the current 15% to 20%, and of postgraduates from the current 23% to 30%.
The University's physical estate presents challenges in relation to access, which we are trying to address. Much of the main campus (Heslington West) was designed in the 1960s, before disability awareness was expected of public bodies. The multiple levels of the landscape are exploited in ways that are not easy for the mobility and sight impaired. The very old listed buildings, Heslington Hall and King's Manor, are difficult but not impossible to modify. In the newer buildings we have addressed the needs of people with impairments, and we expect our expansion development to be an exemplar of inclusivity.
Accessibility is routinely taken into consideration in all new and refurbishment building projects across the University, all of which meet appropriate building regulations standards as a minimum. For instance, disabled parking places are provided for all buildings, as are electric or assisted entrance doors and lifts. Additional measures are taken to support people with visual and auditory impairments. Accessible rooms are available in the new student residential accommodation. Further individual adaptations are made for students, staff or visitors whose needs cannot be met by the accommodation provided as standard.
The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 amends and extends the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, previously amended by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001, specifically in relation to education. The 2005 Act extends the definition of 'disability' and imposes a sixfold General Duty on public bodies to undertake the following:
In addition, universities have a specific duty to produce a Disability Equality Scheme with a three-year Action Plan, showing how they will achieve the general duty. They must report on progress annually and review and revise the scheme every three years.
The Act defines a 'disabled person' as someone who has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. A physical or mental impairment includes: sensory impairments; impairments relating to mental functioning, including learning difficulties/impairments; long-term health conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, HIV, cancer or multiple sclerosis.
Information relating to applicants with disabilities is recorded on UCAS application forms when they apply, and is flagged by the admissions team for the attention of admissions selectors. Once accepted, students supply details relating to impairments when they first register with the University, and annually on registration thereafter. These are recorded on the SITS student record system. Data relating to students who disclose impairments to Disability Services in the course of their degrees are also entered into the SITS system, as are data relating to students in receipt of the Disabled Student"s Allowance. The SITS information is the source of the data provided annually to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and published on the Planning Office website.
The following data are currently monitored in relation to students
We currently do not analyse data on entry qualifications and degree results of students with impairments. This is addressed in the new Action Plan.
The number of EU and overseas students who declare a disability each year is not high enough to permit meaningful analysis of their completion rates, either by disability code or as a whole (less than 70 overseas, less than 40 from EU, in contrast to nearly 900 home students). However, we hope to be able to evaluate data on academic performance for EU and overseas students for the period 2008-2011.
Data on students can be found in Appendix 2.
Staff data relating to impairments is collected by the Human Resources Office on applicants for posts, interviewees (asked if they require any adjustments), and successful applicants, and recorded on the ResourceLink human resources system. Human Resources has circulated personal data to staff in post in the past asking them to update information on impairments, but this is not done regularly. Staff can now access and update their own data via MyView, including information relating to impairments.
The following data in relation to staff are monitored by the Equality and Diversity Committee and Staff Committee and reported to Council:
Also data on interviewees with impairments are monitored. (This is not specifically recorded, but all candidates invited for interview are asked if they have any special requirements or need any adjustments to enable them to attend the interview)
Although we monitor the recruitment process for applicants to posts with impairments, we do not monitor regradings and promotions, harassment, grievances, disciplinary actions or departures from the University.
Data on staff can be found in Appendix 2.
A University Access Statement has been prepared and will go to Council for approval. It covers the University's policy and approach to access, with reference to the inclusion of people with impairments.
Information relating to accessible study bedrooms in each College is maintained by Estates Services in the Accessible Student Accommodation Schedule. All such rooms are rated in line with the National Accessibility Scheme for residential/campus accommodation
Information relating to teaching rooms, including facilities such as hearing loops and wheelchair access, is maintained by Room Bookings in the online Buildings List.
Access handbooks have been developed by Estates Services for all existing buildings, highlighting the provisions made for aiding access and service delivery including training, procedures and, where applicable, policies.
Information on the extent of which services provided and other functions performed by the University take into account the needs of disabled people has been collected through a variety of methods, including the staff and student surveys conducted in 2006, the Students' Union's disability forum, which is held twice a term, and fed back to the Disability Equality Scheme Working Group and the staff focus groups in December 2009.
The development of the 2009-2012 Scheme was led by a Disability Equality Scheme Working Group chaired by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor. Full membership of the group is listed in Appendix 3.
We thoroughly reviewed the 2006-09 Disability Equality Scheme supported by information gathered from a variety of sources (see Figure 1):
We referred back to the original Disability Equality Scheme which had been created by holding a meeting of interested parties at which we reviewed the University's current provision for students and staff with impairments. This was followed by a consultation with people with impairments about the strengths and weaknesses of that provision through two web-based questionnaires, one for staff and one for students . A HEFCE-funded project on Equality and Diversity in the Curriculum was undertaken in 2004/5 and 2005/6. The original Action Plan (appendix 1) included recommendations in the project report relating to people with impairments.
We considered the implications of our extensive progress made on the Disability Equality Scheme action plan which is summarised in the 2007, 08 and 09 annual reports and reflection of areas of need.
We ran a number of staff and student focus groups. The three student focus groups were run by the Students' Union and one in particular was devoted to reviewing the Disability Equality Scheme. This focus group was open to all students and was attended by 6 students with impairments.
There were also two staff focus groups to review the current action points and gather ideas for new ones. All staff and postgraduates who teach were invited to the first, which was a general focus group. Also, staff with impairments, those who teach students with disabilities or just have a general interest were encouraged to input. The second focus group was specifically for staff with disabilities, in which we discussed relevant areas of the Disability Equality Scheme. The focus groups were attended by 10 members of staff, 4 of which had disabilities. Some members of staff who were interested in contributing, but were unable to attend the focus groups, were sent a list of the action points from the scheme and asked to provide feedback.
The Disability Equality Scheme Working Group will continue to consult people with impairments as part of the ongoing process of impact assessment.
All members of the Disability Equality Scheme Working Group were also consulted within their areas of strategic responsibility in order to summarise progress, collate complaints received relevant to the scheme and identify possible new additions to the Action Plan.
Based on the information gathered in the course of the review from the focus groups, complaints, annual reports and input from members of the Disability Equality Scheme Working Group, we produced a new Action Plan. It will be considered by the Equality and Diversity committee in June and then approved by University Council in July. It has also been considered by the Senior Management Group.
We shall, in addition to new actions, continue to undertake a review of the impact on people with impairments of our current policies and processes.
An Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) Pilot Group has been formed and a mapping exercise of University-wide policies has been completed. The full list of policies can be found here.
The impact assessments revealed that in general, University policies could be improved by including explicit reference to the needs of staff and students with disabilities, by the provision of clear procedure and guidance and ensuring consistent application of policy across departments.
In the majority of impact assessments carried out so far there is no evidence of actual adverse impact. However, there is potential for adverse impact for people with disabilities. Regular monitoring would ensure any inadvertent disadvantage was identified.
The Equality and Diversity Office staff have briefed
A new guidance page is available here.
A web-based EQIA recording system will be developed and tested in the summer term of 2010. Phase One of EQIA - a) the assessment of 'high and medium priority' University-wide policies and b) training of appropriate staff - will be completed by the end of September 2010. Phase Two – 'rolling out' to Departments will occur in the academic year 2010-11.
Here we provide a brief overview of progress made in the priority areas of the 2006-9 scheme.
The 2006-2009 Disability Equality Scheme was organised into the following areas:
A new area 'E-Accessibility' was added to the Action Plan in January 2008.
Forum for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (FELT), in conjunction with Disability Services, produced a presentation and notes for departmental disability representatives and an associated online resource has been created.
The 'Special Arrangements in Examinations' booklet was revised and distributed to all departments in Autumn 2009.
We have taken steps to ensure that our policies and processes in relation to international student exchanges and placements do not disadvantage students with impairments.
The protocols for communicating information about students with impairments between central services and departments, and within and between departments need updating.
Not all teaching and support staff have completed disability awareness training.
There needs to be clearer guidelines for open assessment for students with impairments.
There have been problems with exam room arrangements for students with impairments, including supervision and communication before and during examinations.
There is a lack of consistency on advice provided by Disability Services and the Examinations Office.
A review of Disability Services has taken place to investigate whether the service is appropriately staffed and resourced. Recommendations have been made and the staff complement has increased. Other recommendations are pending.
The student-facing parts of the Student Support Services website have been improved.
The Careers Service provides an excellent service for students with impairments.
A focus group of first-year students with impairments was created in 2008 in order to collect their views on attitudinal and environmental barriers to their full participation in teaching, learning and student life.
A review of the Counselling Service took place in 2007 and recommendations were implemented and the creation of a new Open Door Team (ODT) has positively impacted on the support for students with emotional, physiological and mental health difficulties.
Support and services for staff with impairments need to be improved and communicated to Departments.
When starting their course, students are not clear which members of staff have been informed of their impairment.
Due to staffing levels and volume of emails received, Disability Services can be slow in replying.
Colleges are working on action plans to promote positive attitudes towards students with impairments and encouraging such students to take leadership roles in college life.
There needs to be a variety of sources of information for students and staff with disabilities, including support available, who to contact in Estates Services, what they should expect to happen within their department, the location of the disability portal and the existence of departmental disability representatives.
There should be a regular focus group of staff with disabilities.
There has been a comprehensive review of the recruitment process and the management guidance on supporting applicants with impairments has been reviewed and updated.
The web-based recruitment system I-Grasp has been introduced, which has improved monitoring of disabled applicants and increased access, but hardcopies of application forms are still available.
The 'My View' facility introduced in 2009 has improved access for individuals recording their disability status.
A full-time Occupational Health Advisor has been appointed.
The online module 'Diversity in the Workplace' has been added to the University Induction Procedure checklists and was re-launched in November 2009. In additional all staff have been asked to complete the module.
There are no protocols for communicating information about staff with impairments.
There needs to be greater support for new members of staff with impairments through the "new starter" scheme and a process developed to support members of staff who develop impairments whilst employed. New guidelines need to be adopted on how the support provided should operate between different departments.
Disability access is overseen by the Disability Equality Access Steering Group, which has an annual budget to undertake work priorities by the group. Work completed includes improvements to the sports centre doors and white lining for those who are partially sighted.
All new strategic projects include advice from Disability Discrimination Act consultants and new buildings follow accessibility legislation and guidelines for access and disabled car parking.
We provide subsidised bus travel and there is an extended bus route to and around the Heslington West and Heslington East campus.
The Corporate Level Access Statement covering the University's policy towards disabled access and inclusivity, and outlining standards for the provision of buildings and services, need to be incorporated into the Estates Strategy and brought to Council for approval.
There are still significant problems with accessibility on campus, particularly with accessible routes on Heslington West.
Information about alterations on the disabled access improvement programme needs to be available.
Refurbishments on Heslington West need to have the same level of consultation and monitoring, with regards to accessibility, as new buildings.
It needs to be clearer who to contact in Estates Services in order to report minor defects and impediments, which affect people with disabilities, and need to be quickly remedied.
All public lectures take place in fully accessible venues and there is a map showing wheelchair-friendly routes, which is available in hard copy and online.
Issues relating to disability are dealt with on a case-by-case basis for opportunities offered via the Community and Volunteering Unit (CAVU) for students and projects supported by CAVU are facilitated by a project worker.
The York V Consortium initiative, run by the Community and Volunteering Unit, identifies young people with physical or learning difficulties for involvement in volunteering projects and activities.
The Conference Office policies are all inclusive and it is common-place for a number of delegates and keynote speakers with disabilities to attend events on campus. A tactile campus map is available and arrangements can be made for guests who require mobility scooters, portable induction loops and vibrating pillows.
We need to ensure that conference and letting services policies and processes continue to support the Disability Equality Duty.
The original Disability Equality Scheme was approved by University Council. The 2007 Annual Report was submitted to Council and all subsequent reports have been submitted to the Equality and Diversity Committee.
In 2007 all members of University Council were invited to disclose information on impairments and steps were taken to address the needs of an individual who disclosed such information.
Clarity is need regarding the obligations of Council under the relevant legislation.
Subcommittees of University Council need to be informed of their obligations in relation to staff and students with impairments under the relevant legislation.
Publications and marketing materials are screened by the publications team and advice is given to improve the accessibility of materials coming through the Communications Office and Campus, Copy and Print.
There is a set of guidance, entitled 'How to make your publications accessible', on the Communications webpages.
Guidance for producing printed material for people with visual disabilities is included in the University Style Guide and the University Visual Identity Guide, which are available online and in hard copy.
The Web Office has information on the University website for making web pages more accessible.
A web portal was created in 2008, providing a single point of access to services, guidance and support available for staff, students and visitors with impairments. It has been linked to the Disability Services and 'Information for Visitors' web-pages.
There is no hard copy of a specific set of standards for printed publications to take into account the needs of readers with visual impairments.
Appropriate members of staff need to be trained to use the standards for printed publications.
The disability portal is not well promoted and should be improved by adding a 'Frequently Asked Questions' section.
The Students' Union created its own Disability Equality Scheme in Spring 2007, which was updated in Spring 2009.
The Graduate Students' Association created its own Disability Equality Scheme in Spring 2007.
The Graduate Students" Association Disability Equality Scheme is in need of updating.
Gaps in the Students" Union"s provision for students with disabilities are listed in its Disability Equality Scheme.
An E-Accessibility forum was created in 2008. This has resulted in improved cross-Departmental and cross-functional working on e-accessibility issues.
It has secured 'Net Support School' software for all PC classrooms to enable short or seated lecturers to use facilities and funding for PROTEA (Protocol for Testing e-Accessibility) Project, which will pump-prime a JISC bid.
A policy on Students Recording Lectures was formulated (approved by Teaching and Learning Committee and passed to Senate).
It has also raised issues about smartboards and lighting on whiteboards to Campus Services and supported the roll-out of Firefox on supported PCs to enable use of extensions which maximize accessibility of web-pages.
A trained pool of audio typists is needed to produce transcriptions of multi-media content.
Awareness of e-accessibility issues.
Staff need to be encouraged to use Microsoft Office in a way which maximizes accessibility.
We regard this Scheme as an ongoing process, reviewing progress annually and modifying the Scheme in the light of our experience and feedback. More action points are likely to be added to the Scheme before 2012, including those that come to light through consultation with people with impairments, and priorities altered accordingly.
The forecast cost of actions for each year will be reviewed as part of the budgetary process in the context of the University's overall financial position.
The Action Plan in Section 7 identifies the senior managers who have overall responsibility for ensuring that change happens. The Disability Equality Scheme Working Group aims to support the senior managers, staff and committees in its implementation. It will also monitor progress, including:
Annual progress reports on the Disability Equality Scheme will be submitted to the Equality and Diversity Committee and will be available on the University website. Our aims are to ensure that the Disability Equality Duty is embedded in the University's highest-level planning and that our actions to support it are transparent.
The Disability Equality Scheme will be reviewed in the autumn of 2012.
It is currently being discussed whether the Disability Equality Duty will be integrated as one strand within an overarching equalities scheme that will also encompass the nine 'protected characteristics' under the Equality Act 2010.
We have decided to use the same broad themes to organise the 2009-12 Disability Equality Scheme, but revised to take account of information gathered throughout the past three years. For example, 'E-Accessibility' (added to the Action Plan in January 2008) is now included in Communications and there is now a 'Monitoring' section. It emerged from the staff focus groups that there is a large support network for students with disabilities, but the support for staff with impairments needs to be improved. So, the area 'Student Support' is now 'Student and Staff Support' and action points have been added to address this need. This will be reviewed in light of guidance following the new Equality Act 2010.