W40 – “Just because it works for you, doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll work for me…”: Exploring the holistic support required for First Year students with disabilities in Higher Education

Dance room – Tuesday 09:00-10:00

Workshop – 30 minute

Celeste Wolfensberger

University of Johannesburg

Celeste Wolfensberger is an Educational Psychologist and Team Leader for the Disability Services Unit at a university in South Africa. Passionate about providing the specialised support these students require to ensure academic success, her area of interest lies in Inclusive Education practices, particularly in Higher Education.

Summary

In this challenge workshop, the presenter wishes to explore what constitutes holistic support for first year students with disabilities.  She will share with the audience, the unique challenges that exist when supporting students with disabilities within higher education. Drawing on actual case studies and contextual examples, the presenter will aim to facilitate a meaningful discussion of what holistic support to this population of student could look like, and draw upon the audience’s experiences to conceptualise what it could ultimately look like. Therefore the audience will be requested to share examples of how disability is supported in their own institutions, with the aim of learning and collaboratively explore alternate solutions to this multifaceted and often complex dimension of support within FYE.

Abstract

The holistic support required by students with disabilities (special needs), remains a specialised domain within the conceptualisation of the First Year Experience. Disability units within Higher Education Institutions often drive this support, and have undoubtedly contributed to the retention and in turn, the academic success of these first year students. The support that these units are expected to provide, is as varied and diverse as the physical, sensory, learning and psychological barriers that its first year students present with.

The ever-changing and diverse student population within tertiary education institutions continually challenge the interventions used by disability units. Often socio-economic, psycho-social and attitudinal barriers to disability need to be considered first, before academic support can be effectively be put in place.

In this challenge workshop, the presenter wishes to explore what constitutes holistic support for first year students with disabilities.  She will share with the audience, the unique challenges that exist when supporting students with disabilities. Drawing on actual case studies and contextual examples, the presenter will aim to facilitate a meaningful discussion of what holistic support to this population of student within higher education currently looks like, and draw upon the audience’s experiences to conceptualise what it could ultimately look like. Therefore the audience will be requested to share examples of how disability is supported in their own institutions, with the aim of learning and collaboratively explore alternate solutions to this multifaceted and often complex dimension of support within FYE.

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