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Disability Practitioner in Residence

The Disability Practitioner in Residence section will have, over time, a range of practitioners taking the time to look into the wealth of information that is currently being held on ADCET and bring it to our attention through regular updates. They may like to highlight how they use ADCET, what they feel needs further work or even lead us in a discussion on a topic. We hope this is another way that will assist you in your role by improving your knowledge of the information that is available on ADCET as well as feeling more connected across the sector

Cathy's first contribution as Disability Practitioner in Residence 

Current Picks

Photo of Cathy Easte

Cathy Easte – Coordinator, Disabilities Service. Griffith University

Wouldn’t it be nice…. (With huge apologies to The Beach Boys)

Wouldn't it be nice if we were fully funded
Then we wouldn't have to balance a budget
And wouldn't it be nice to have time to plan together
In the kind of world where all goals and dreams belong

You know its gonna make it that much better
When we can say yes our goals are being funded

Wouldn't it be nice if we could wake up
Knowing support for all students was vital
And after having planned the goals together
Helping maintain focus the whole way through

Creative times together we've been planning
I wish that every need were fully funded
Wouldn't it be nice

Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray it might come true
Truly then there wouldn't be a single thing we couldn't do
We could be supported (we could be supported)
And then we'd be happy (and then we'd be happy) 

Wouldn't it be nice
You know it seems the more we talk about it
It only makes it worse to live without it
But lets talk about it
Wouldn't it be nice
Keep dreamin’ keep dreamin’

Of fully funded needs!

The time and creativity to be with students according to their needs, not according to my diary and other bookings, to be free to use time as needed for clients, knowing that my caseload was not overcrowded and my manager (or those in charge of budgets) supported my creative input into assisting my students. To be ‘fully funded’ and providing students a chance to also dream then why can this not be right? Ah wouldn’t it be nice!

Ok, I will stop contemplating what sometimes seems impossible as we juggle limited available time, increasing caseloads, increasing complex student needs, challenges of ever changing technology, but still such strong personal desires to assist our students onto careers, to full citizenship, to dreams and desires long denied… This is not simple to teach, to pass on without allowing a new Disabilities Officer to loose faith in systems and processes in which we function. I have been training new staff recently and have another starting on Monday.

 How do we train for this field? Staff have to grow in knowledge of many disabilities, into many different study disciplines and liaise with many various academics (some accommodating and some ‘prickly’ at best). It is a lesson, a process that I can only start as it is up to each and every Disabilities Officer to embrace this learning as continual, lifelong and sometimes a never arriving process – all while holding onto the dreams we, and our students, hold when we start along the journey and not let it get beaten out of us, due to staff shortages, budgets and governments refusing to fully fund the needs of our students.

The ADCET website is invaluable to me in this sharing / training process.

My tips

  1. Join aust-ed list serve. Check it out – even has a video on how to access the archives! This is great for those times you are unsure of how to proceed, how to respond to those tricky situations, or just want know what does everyone else does. It is also nice just to know you are not alone!
  2. If you are on Facebook – Follow the ADCET Facebook page – you will hear those nice stories of successes, learn when new resources are added to site and so much more – it’s great, as you get these pop up on your Facebook even when you are not looking – and it can be timely
  3. ADCET has a great page for new staff: Tips for the new disability practitioner
  4. Another favourite of mine to share with new staff is the subject specific strategies pages

Check out the ADCET pages, take that short break over coffee (or wine and chocolate) and see what is there, there are more gems than what I have shared. What are your favourites? 

Find out more about Cathy

Cathy's first contribution

“We should not fear disability” was the title in a recent local newspaper article. The article lends credence to the thought that one could think that disability is something to be feared. I think at times disability is feared, feared as additional work, additional burdens, additional money and additional supports by some without knowledge of disability. I am still surprised after almost 30 years in educational support roles that such fear is still prevalent and sometimes just as strong as it was 30 years ago.

Disability should not be defined by the additional work, the retrofitting of curriculum's to include those with ‘differences’, disability is no one’s fault and this idea of additional work to support students with disability should be removed wherever possible. If there are barriers to access that hinder students showing their true abilities and potentials as individuals regardless of type of impairment, this is where you and I can make a difference, this is where you and I can work to remove their barriers and thus improve students’ abilities to be achieve.

I have yet to find a University campus, or a TAFE campus that is 100% inclusive, so students do not have to seek out an additional service. We can dare to dream of such.. to dream of a time when no one fears disability

“… the biggest disability, by far, is our own. People with disabilities know they’re able. Are we? Are we able to take off our masks of fear? Are we able to step back and give people with “distractions” a chance to succeed? We’ve been wearing these masks for so, so long.” (Henderson, 2008)

The ADCET website is invaluable in assisting me with finding resources to refer teaching staff, academics and other staff within my campuses to resources for inclusion

Universal Design: This is a great start page with link to good practice examples and other information for those keen to redesign curriculums for full inclusion

Blogs: On a lighter side it is good to read others stories, frustrations or inspiration. We sometimes get so busy and forget others are on the same journey we are and sometimes we too do not have all the answers. Perhaps you too can write a blog?

Reference: Henderson, N. (2008). Able! Dallas, TX: BenBalla Books.