Disabled students at the University of Westminster have worked with academics and support staff to shape a range of new learning and teaching tools that will support the delivery of curriculums that are inclusive and accessible for all disabled students.

The three-year project, known as the Inclusive Curriculum for Disabled Students (ICDS), has involved disabled students at the University providing evidence through focus groups of their experience of barriers to learning - and suggesting possible solutions. This student experience has been matched by input from lecturers on what they have seen as effective inclusive practice.

The result has been a new set of learning and teaching guides. Each one focuses on a particular theme, ranging from course design and validation, recruitment and enrolment, through to different aspects of learning, teaching and assessment.

And sitting alongside these guides will be case studies, providing real-life examples of some of the barriers disabled students face at university, together with the relevant best inclusive teaching practice.

It is being launched today when Tara Flood (pictured), director of the Alliance for Inclusive Education, delivers a keynote address. The ICDS guides will form part of the University’s curriculum from the start of the 2009-10 academic year.

Eileen Laycock, Disability Services manager at Westminster, said: “This is a very exciting breakthrough in curriculum design. One of our key aims with the project was to produce a set of resources that will support staff to develop and deliver curriculums that are inclusive and accessible for our disabled students.

“We were also keen to embed inclusivity into mainstream processes and thinking. This will be reflected in the way we validate courses and provide professional development for new staff.

“As someone who has been involved with disability services within higher education for many years, I feel this approach to learning and teaching here at Westminster will bring tremendous benefits, both to our students with disabilities and to those teaching them,” added Eileen.

Tara Flood said: “Feeling welcomed and part of university life from day one is crucial if inclusion in higher education is to become a reality for all disabled students. The University of Westminster is leading the way in terms of partnering with disabled students to make this happen.”


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