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Huxor, Philcox and Bowers, Disability Champions. eSTEeM Final Report.pdf (1.05 MB)

Disability Champions Pilot Project. eSTEeM Final Report

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posted on 2024-02-05, 10:45 authored by Elouise Huxor, Theodora Philcox, Lisa BowersLisa Bowers

The Disability Champion project was a pilot programme to support ALs in their teaching of students in design with disability flags given that the proportion of students within this group has been steadily rising over recent years. This is particularly prevalent within the first level design module (U101) since this is often the first experience for students studying with the OU, and for many, represents a return to study after a long gap. Many students face multiple challenges. ALs frequently raised concerns about knowing how best to support students with specific needs, including complex mental health issues. ALs reported that they often found it difficult to know where to find appropriate guidelines and resources, and how they could discuss particular cases to discover if other ALs had used successful strategies in similar situations.

The Disability Champion Pilot Scheme was therefore conceived to offer a more straightforward route for ALs to find information and a dedicated support space where they could share their concerns and their strategies for dealing with particular learning needs. Three ALs were recruited via an Expression of Interest followed by an interview process, and, along with the three staff tutors, they were given the opportunity of gaining their Mental Health First Aid certificate. To further support them, they attended various training sessions to update their knowledge and understanding of a wide range of disabilities and explored teaching strategies to optimise D-flag students’ learning experience.

A Disability Help Desk was set up in the shape of a forum alongside the module tutor forum. ALs were encouraged to post questions so that the Disability Champions could share their knowledge, but also allow other ALs who had dealt with similar issues within their student groups to contribute their experience. It was intended that this space would be one of sharing good practice, peer-to-peer support, and a place of reassurance.

To facilitate quick and easy access to resources, the Disability Champions collated the excellent, but often difficult to find, university resources and policies, in a Disability Champions Toolkit, set up as a VLE with live links and opportunities to update information regularly as well as add blog posts on interesting case studies.

The Pilot was led by staff tutor Dr Lisa Bowers accompanied by fellow staff tutors, Elouise Huxor and Theo Philcox. Together they acted as monitors and guides for the AL Disability Champions who were able to gain valuable professional development through their training and useful experience supporting their peers.





  • Public document

Institutional priority category

  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion


  • Accessibility
  • Disabilities
  • Mental Health
  • Peer Support/Mentoring

Subject discipline

  • Engineering

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