Through the UTS Access and Inclusion Plan 2015 - 2019 (49 KB, PDF), overseen by the Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion, the University has committed to creating an equitable and inclusive environment for people with diverse abilities studying at UTS.
- The Accessibility Resource Guide (232 KB, PDF) complements the Access and Inclusion Plan to support staff with access requirements.
- The Access Guidelines for UTS Events and Training Sessions (67 KB, PDF) and Accessible Events and Training checklist (74 KB, PDF) aim to help you plan a more inclusive event by taking into account the needs of people with disability who may be attending.
- If you believe you are being discriminated against or harassed in your work or study because you have a disability you have an equity-related complaint and can contact the Equity and Diversity Unit within the Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion.
Accessible environments advisory group
UTS is committed to equal access and opportunity for all people. The accessible environments advisory group (AEAG) assists UTS to develop a coordinated and strategic approach to identifying, prioritising and resolving built environment access issues, and scheduling implementation in a phased manner based on feedback from stakeholders about priority areas, including:
- The design, construction and maintenance of all the physical facilities of the University,
- Access, egress and circulation, continuous accessible pathways of travel, and satisfactory linkages with transport,
- Amenities, such as toilets, furniture and equipment, and
- Communications, including hearing augmentation, lighting and signage.
I need time and understanding. I need automatic doors. I need people to speak clearly to me. I need verbal communication. I need my laptop. I need time, patience and note-takers. I learned along the way it's important to talk about my access requirements and to get clear about what they are and I got a lot of confidence when I heard other people with access requirements talking about what they need. A lot of people think with myths around disability that we aren't as able to do things as we want to, People may in group work in particular may feel that we don't contribute as much as say someone who doesn't have a disability, but first of all, I'm not that different to anyone else, yeah there's some you know differences when it comes to working with me but otherwise I am pretty much like any other uni student. It's more that I do have some access requirements, a room that is spacious, that has space for me to go into, come out of easily, where there is a desk I can actually use and it's at the right height. The best place for me to work in a group dynamic is in a much quieter place like a library where you have the room space or where you don’t have background noise. For others it might not be an issue but for me it is an issue. I think my number one access requirement in group work would be to have good communication considering my disability is more of a mental issue, so if communication is a little bit jarred or there's a lot of miscommunication, I feel like you interpret things wrongly and I think it gets lost in translation. You know everyone has a story and everyone's really trying their hardest to make someone out of themselves so if you can be a little bit more understanding and a little bit more patient that would be great. By the time I go forward and say this is what I need unfortunately, often times I only do that once something's already gone wrong which gives forth the impression that it's an excuse. It comes from a lack of understanding. If I don't get the access requirements I need I mainly get incredibly stressed. Needing those access requirements and just not having them I can see where I can go, where I want to be, what I can do, but having that barrier in front of you meaning you can't get there it's stressful and frustrating on so many levels. Online group work is particularly difficult for blind and partially sighted people as a lot of the online platforms are sometimes not compatible with a screen reader. The most supporting thing a colleague or group member can do is never assume what I need and always ask me first. Really when we're looking at how people with disability contribute and we’re talking about inclusion, accessibility leads to that inclusion. We don't have inclusion without accessibility. Inclusive practice belongs at UTS. Inclusive practices belong at UTS. Inclusive practice belongs at UTS. Inclusive practice belongs at UTS. Contributors in order of appearance: Fiona Fong, Patrisha Domingo, Waleed Zaman, Sarah Houbolt, Nicole Araya, Sarah Ellington, Eaman Shahzad. Special thanks to Sarah Houbolt and Amy Grady, Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion.
Female: I had my life changing car accident at 26, so between 26 and 37 I've had to learn to manage it, so developing the skills to manage shortcomings, not as some sort of definitive measure of being incompetent and a pain to everybody, but learning to manage them as just part of your life.
Male: I'm an unusual case because I'm someone who has a guide dog but I have tunnel vision. It is often funny when I come into a class because my guide dog is told to sit down and then I flip open my notes and start reading in front of people. You get this 'what the?' expression on people's faces. I like that. I like breaking people's stereotypical assumptions.
Female: I'm partially deaf and I find sometimes when I undertake university studies or any other studies, one of my main issues is being able to hear people that are located a distance away from me. So I need to work around that by setting up close to the other person or having a personal listening kit which will allow me to receive or hear the person using the T-loop system.
Male: My learning disability means that I make a lot of spelling errors during exams, for example, I need to use a dictionary and I'm sometimes able in English with a dictionary to make the corrections I need to. It takes me a bit longer to read through information.
Female: It took me something like three years to finish my last couple of subjects because I couldn't sit still and do so many things, but I just was not going to stop two subjects short of a degree.
Male: Law school was very difficult. My MBA is difficult. You do have your moments. You have your bad moments. I've failed two subjects in my MBA already, but I've done them again and I've passed them well. Those things you must expect in a world that's not sympathetic towards people with disabilities. You've just got to get up and have a go again until you do succeed.
Male: I think about the day when you - beyond graduation, think about - you don't just think about the next four years that you've got to do your university studies.
Female: [I teach the] students, even before they complete their studies, is to look for part time work because you have no idea how important it is to have the work experience under your belt because the moment you leave the university and look for work in a company, a lot of the people that will interview you and ask you what will you do if you have that kind of problem situation, what will you do, how will you deal with the client, how will you deal with the employees. Sometimes it's hard to answer the question if you haven't got any commercial experience.
So it's good to get some sort of work experience, whether it is paid work or volunteer work, go for that. You will enhance your resume. You will show your potential employer that you can do a lot of things. Don't worry about working in a very menial low-level job like [unclear] or Burger King, which I've done before, it helps.
Female: Draw on the resources that are available. So for me at UTS, there are so many services that I made use of there and I think the best one was spending time talking to people in special needs. So when something gets difficult for you, go talk to someone about it, so learning to actually manage the difficulties was the key skill that I think you take out to the workplace with you.
So instead of feeling uncomfortable and disabled as a person with limitations, you actually feel enabled.
Male: I think the most important thing that a university [equity unit] can provide, along with the support service, is actually having a resource around for students. A room where students with disabilities can meet each other, communicate with one another, congregate. Some of your greatest friendships form there. They're the ones who really understand what it's like.
Female: It's usually a good idea to get someone from the career guidance department to help you out with the resume part of it. There are a couple of books in the market which actually provide a few hints and guidance on how to prepare a resume, how to prepare for an interview. It's good to know all that because then you're more well prepared for the interviews.
Sometimes you speak to someone who is in the industry already and show them your resume just to have a quick look.
Male: I came up with the attitude that I'll work really hard during uni, and I got good marks, that should entitle me to a job and that doesn't - I really had to change my way of thinking to know that it really doesn't work that way. You've got to learn to - you've got to stand up about others. It doesn't matter to look good on paper, you've also got to look good in person and be able to present yourself properly and be able to give people what they want.
Female: It's hard to visualise myself in a room with a person thinking of all the potential questions they will ask me. I tend to rather write it on paper.
Male: The university marks are taken into an interview but when it actually comes to the interview itself, you've got to be prepared and it's the same as doing an assignment, you've got to know what they're going to say and you've got to know what they're going to ask you. You've got to do your homework.
Female: It would be helpful if you do a bit of research in the company so at least you know where the company is heading, what sort of direction it's going to go into. It gives you something common to talk to with the interviewers.
Male: How will you get the customers' locations, how do you get into buildings, how do you travel, what sort of support do you need, those sorts of really important questions. I think it's important for people with disabilities who are applying for a job, if those questions are not being asked in an interview, for the person themselves to answer the questions unprompted. They will be questions in employers' minds regardless, whether or not the employer feels comfortable to ask those questions, they will be in the employer's mind, and if the question is not being asked then the employer will make up their own mind what the answer will be. Usually the answer will be wrong.
Male: I think it's very important when you write in an application that you actually be quite honest about your disability and I think that you shouldn't be ashamed to mention your disability. It's part of who you are.
Female: For me, I've chosen not to disclose at interview and I think the chances of you getting a job are whatever they are, probability-wise, so if you get offered the job then it becomes something you need to talk about.
Male: I didn't disclose my disability to the employer because there wasn't any need to. Whatever it was, I knew I had time to - if it was spelling errors, I knew I could use words and spell checkers and grammar checkers. It means that just I had a bit of extra time to do stuff.
Female: I did disclose my hearing disability. She was aware that I had a disability and she was happy to work around it. I said, it's preferable not to have a phone call interview, I would rather have a face to face interview.
Male: If I revealed my disability, either in a formal application, written application or over the phone, it's much easier for an employer - potential employer to make judgements about what my disability might mean and I don't get the opportunity then to even judge whether or not they're making those assumptions. If I'm with a person face to face then I can obviously judge the reaction a person is having to me and can hopefully address any nothings that I think they may be developing.
So I would still recommend to people that that's the process that they undertake.
Female: If it's about wheelchair entry then you need to tell people, because you can't run the risk of getting there and finding out you can't get in the building. Whereas for me, it's more about day to day things that I might not be able to do.
Male: We're looking for a can-do attitude. The disability isn't a key factor that we're concerned about because if they can contribute to both the community and also the academic outcomes, we see that of being of great value.
[Jacqueline] came to us through a range of interviews and she demonstrated that she had the academic capability. She also had the attitude that can say, I can do it.
Male: There will be people out there who will see past - whatever your disability is, they will see past it and they will see the real you. Don't be afraid to make friends in the workplace.
Female: Identifying someone who is senior enough to be able to help you, to be able to change things for you and also someone that you trust and that you're comfortable with.
Male: If you're really passionate about something and it's not the highest paid job in the world, still go for it because if you are really passionate about it, if you're really good at it, you'll excel. If you excel at something, you're obviously going to be rewarded for it later on.
Female: If there's a will, there's always a way. I believe that even though you might have a disability or anything that you could challenge you in terms of your work or your studies, there are always ways around it. All you have to do is look for ways to work around it and apply your skills or your experience in that area and do the best you can. If you're - if they ask you for 100 per cent, give it 110 per cent and nothing - and you'll do well.
Male: One of the driving forces behind this change in thinking that people with disabilities really now are people who can, should and want to work, is the increasing skill shortage in Australia and other countries. People are finally starting to recognise that with businesses struggling to find good, educated, motivated workers to work for them, and looking at people with disabilities who are keen to work, who have the qualifications they need to work, businesses are increasingly starting to see a link between the two.
Male: The world cannot tell you what you can and what you can't do. You are the final judge - you are the best judge of what you can and what you can't do. I know it applies to you both at work and your domestic life and in your university life.
Male: I strongly encourage any students with disabilities who are seeing this, to put the hard yards in. It's not easy but it is absolutely worth the effort.
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