Increasingly, students use assistive technologies to support their learning and this may replace a support worker in certain situations. For example, the use of a laptop in a lecture, or lecture notes made available on the intranet, could make it unnecessary for a student to have a note taker.
However, disabled students often still require specialist human support in order to remove or reduce some of the barriers to learning that exist in different learning environments. So, for example
Staff specialisms fall into two categories.
Learning mentors may bridge these two categories. They may combine study skills tuition with more practical day-to-day support.
You will not normally be involved in recruiting or booking support staff but you do need to know something of their role, how they can support learning and the implications for your teaching.
Please bear in mind the following points when working with support staff.
Support staff are often part of a disability service offered by a university, and this in itself can cause concerns for those with specific learning difficulties or mental health difficulties as they may not see themselves as being disabled. However from the financial point of view students do need to work with this department in order to receive support and gain a Disabled Students' Allowance.
Depending on individual needs, students may be provided with study skills guidance and assistance in developing strategies for organising their learning and workload. They may require the support of someone with a background in counselling or mental health. Some students may need one-to-one support on a daily basis in order to attend lectures or visit the library. An increasing number of universities now have a member of staff, often within the disability service, whose role is to coordinate this provision.
Universities are increasingly providing training and guidance for specialist support staff, particularly in how to work as a note taker, scribe or reader, and some of these courses are now accredited.