By Anita Devi
This week (4th – 8 March 2019) brings together four main events:
- National Careers Week #NationalCareersWeek2019
- National Apprenticeship Week #NAW19
- World Book Day #WBD19 #ShareAStory
- International Women’s Day #WomensDay
It is therefore, not by chance six months ago when we started planning our first #SENDcareers event, we chose this week. The World Health Organisation with The World Bank published the first ‘World Disability Report’ in 2011. At the time, it stated about 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability, of whom 2-4% experience significant difficulties in functioning. It is important to remember, these are only the cases that are known. A colleague working in assistive technology, recently shared with me, given a rise in the retirement age, this number is much higher.
In the Foreword of the World Disability Report (2011), Professsor Stephen W. Hawking, shared the following:
Disability need not be an obstacle to success. I have had motor neurone disease for practically all my adult life. Yet it has not prevented me from having a prominent career in astrophysics and a happy family life. Reading the World report on disability, I find much of relevance to my own experience. I have benefited from access to first class medical care. I rely on a team of personal assistants who make it possible for me to live and work in comfort and dignity. My house and my workplace have been made accessible for me. Computer experts have supported me with an assisted communication system and a speech synthesizer which allow me to compose lectures and papers, and to communicate with different audiences.
So why does the #SENDcareers project matter to #TeamADL?
Our overall mission is about:
Within this, though we recognise a wide range of vulnerabilities that need addressing. Supporting people with learning difficulties and disabilities into the workplace and sustaining them in such dynamic environments is vital for individuals, families, employers and communities.
Different companies like Microsoft and Apple are developing a number of ‘lifestyle, open access tools to help. We have also come across various organisations working to develop vocational opportunities for those with disabilities. We commend all these efforts. However, we believe, there is a need to do more.
We want young people and adults with special educational needs and disabilities:
- to have a voice
- to tell their story and define their story going forward
- to ‘own’ their abilities and future
- to advocate for themselves, so they can experience independence and choice
- to be connected and part of a community
To do that, we need to give people a platform to tell their story that is safe, empowering and forward thinking.
That’s why we’ve teamed up with The RIX Media Centre at The University of East London to utilise researched technology to give people with disabilities a voice to tell their story. We will be sharing more information about this in due course.
For now, here is a statement about the partnership:
… and pictures of us working with Ajay Choksi, Wiki Master at RIX. One of Ajay’s goals this year is to travel by himself to an unknown place, using public transport. He has used the wiki to communicate his goal, his plan, what it would look like and celebrate success. This is part of his story. Regardless of what profession we are in, isn’t this what we do every year? As part of his wider travel plan, Ajay wanted to learn to drive. He plots his full journey of taking both the theory and practical test, through his wiki. Another story part to his life. By weaving all these sub-stories together, we develop an understanding of Ajay’s life … and his story.
Stories are powerful. They embrace a beginning, middle and end. This short video I made for UKEd Chat Conference highlights the need for stories to be at the heart of person-centred approaches. Stories aren’t just about, what has happened, but also what could happen. They bring to the forefront possibilities.
Recently, I was privileged to visit The Book Trust to review a range of books for secondary special schools. One genre particularly fascinated me. In this book, the pupil reads a page and then makes a choice. The choice determines which page is read next. Then there is another choice and so the journey continues. It was great to hear from librarians in special schools how much pupils enjoy these types of books. The book brings together not just alternative endings, but also different scenarios, journeys and new possibilities each time. To me, it is such a reflection of life and the choices we need to give young people.
At #TeamADL we do not claim to have all the answers, but we are keen to ask the right questions and explore possibilities and different solutions in partnership with young people, adults, families and employers.
The #SENDcareers Project is relatively young, but we have BIG plans. So, if you are interested in keeping up to date with developments, do sign up for our termly newsletter. We will be sharing new solutions and good practice case studies, as part of the editorial. We will also provide readers with updates on the use of wikis in employment.
About Anita Devi
Anita has had an extensive career in education. Her why is based around the ‘joy of learning’. As such, she focuses on what enables learners and what hinders them and more importantly, what can she do to improve the system. Amongst many other roles, Anita leads #TeamADL
To find out more visit www.AnitaDevi.com