Are your events accessible? Freshers’ week prep for faculty staff

Friday 17 August 2018, Support

by Ability Net

Are your events accessible? Freshers’ week prep for faculty staff

Relevant to
Ability Net
It’s that time of year when staff and students are thinking about the start of the university term and

fresher’s week. During this exciting time, it’s important to consider access needs, provide support for people with a range of abilities, and also think carefully about student and staff mental health.
While a lot of new starters, returning students, and staff are ready for a new challenge and may enjoy all that the university experience has to offer, for some, the university environment can be both challenging and overwhelming.

AbilityNet believe the learning environment should be as accessible as possible, so we’ve pulled together a list of top tips for faculty staff during freshers’ week:
  1. Have a friendly ‘go-to’ person available every day throughout fresher’s week. Someone who is able to meet and greet people and point them in the right direction, advise, listen, and help students feel at ease.
  2. Access needs – have you considered if everyone can access your freshers’ event areas? Accessible location tips from our experts include – find a wheelchair friendly location i.e. one with ramps, remove physical obstacles for those who may be visually impaired, and avoid overbearing and loud music.
  3. Share university support services information. Where can people go for additional support? Consider including advice on Disabled Students’ Allowances, and information on assistive technology. There are resources available for finding out if you’re eligible. 
  4. Student union information and societies can be the making of some people during their time at university. Provide easily accessed information on everything that is on offer at your provider.
  5. Suggest students sign up to their local GP, which will help them feel more relaxed, should they need an emergency appointment with any health concerns.
  6. Provide information on the NHS’ ‘5 steps to wellbeing’
  7. Provide links to useful platforms which can help students. We suggest including Student Minds, a UK student mental health charity, Campus Society, an advice platform where anyone can join the conversation and share any concerns they have, and AbilityNet, a UK charity which provides advice on technology and disability. We have a large range of free resources for students, including advice on apps and software, factsheets, webinars, videos, and assistive technology training days.
  8. Are your presentations accessible? Perhaps consider if your videos have subtitles or audio description. Include explanations of your slides as part of your presentation – this will prevent excluding anyone who can’t see the screen. If you’re sharing slides afterwards, consider doing an accessibility check before sharing
  9. The Whole University Approach is well worth a read. 
Freshers’ week is an exciting time for most people, and making a few simple adjustments means your event will be able to provide the maximum enjoyment for everyone involved.

If you’d like to contact us about how we may be able to support your students and staff during freshers’ week and beyond, call our free technology and disability helpline on 0800 269 545, or email us at [email protected].

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