3 Key Obstacles to Improving Student Accessibility

Government legislation, such as the Disability Discrimination Act and Disability Standards, protects equal access to education for students experiencing barriers to study. As a result, all education providers have a responsibility to provide reasonable adjustments, and ultimately a level playing field for all students. As the number of students engaging with accessibility services increases, support staff face an administrative challenge in ensuring tailored and student-focused service delivery.

In the last decade, the highest level of educational attainment for people with disabilities has improved, but is still generally lower than for people without disability. For example, the highest level of educational attainment was a bachelor’s degree or higher for:

  • 17% (or 614,000) of people with disability aged 20 and over
  • 11% (or 107,000) of those with severe or profound disability in the same age range.

This is compared with 35% (or 5 million) of people without disability (ABS 2019). People with a disability are also more likely to drop out during their studies. Addressing this gap starts with addressing some of the key obstacles to student accessibility in higher education institutions.

1. Lack of Appropriate Tools and Systems

Many education providers lack a dedicated, built for purpose system, designed to uniquely support students with disabilities and other barriers to study. Without functions such as assistive technology and loans management, automated Learning Access Plan management, and an online student portal, students will face continued challenges when accessing distance learning programs and participating in coursework online.

Prospective students must be confident they will receive support both when studying on and off-campus. This goes beyond basic accessibility to provide them with an inclusive educational experience that builds a solid foundation for successful learning outcomes. 

2. Inefficiencies Caused by Manual Processes 

Universities and other higher education institutions have dedicated equity and accessibility teams providing an essential service to student success and wellbeing. However, they are hampered by the administrative burdens involved in managing student accessibility. This includes everything from planning and managing alternative adjustments to record keeping.

3. Under-Resourced Staff

Inadequate professional support and tools among accessibility teams have a negative impact on the student experience and what students can achieve. Tools that empower equity and accessibility teams are invaluable to improving accessibility and student outcomes on campus. For example, Student Assist by Databee automates otherwise time-consuming manual processes. 

Student Assist replaces outdated systems with built for purpose functionality, giving staff more time to build rapport with their students and better-tailored support. Accessibility staff who are empowered and have confidence is one of the biggest factors for student success. This confidence can only come from a combination of the right training, support, experience and tools.

Request a Demonstration of Student Assist

Get in touch with our team today to find out more about Student Assist. Request an online demonstration by contacting us online or calling our office on +61 8 9401 8450.

We’re currently offering Databee Student Assist within our Early Adopters Program, where universities and higher education institutions have the opportunity to contribute to the functionality and ongoing improvement of Student Assist in exchange for significant discounts on the service. 
Sources: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/disability/people-with-disability-in-australia/contents/education-and-skills/educational-attainment

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Monique Wise