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Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training
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Employing Specialist Staff

Disability support workers (DSWs) are often employed in the post-secondary environment to directly assist students with disability. Some of the roles may include note-takers, sign language interpreters, tutors, scribes, readers, library assistants, class participation assistants, integration aides, attendant carers, mobility and orientation guides, personal assistants and tutorial assistants.

The provision of such services frequently makes the difference between students with disability either succeeding in their education and training goals, or dropping out. As these types of services can be quite personalised, the match between the worker and the student can be important. The student can be consulted about their preferences, such as age, gender, and other personal qualities.

In employing DSWs it is useful to:

  • clarify the organisation’s procedures for employment of sessional workers, including contracts, pay claims and entitlements
  • discuss the general and specific aspects of the position and its professional boundaries 
  • provide induction to the areas in which the DSW will be working, provide introductions to teaching and support staff, and clarify procedures for managing complaints or disagreements.