AccessAbilty Services is a support service for JCU students who identify with temporary or permanent disability, injury, illness or health condition. The Inclusive Practice Acknowledgement Award (IPAA) has been part of JCU’s AccessAbility Services since 2000. Recipients of the IPAA are recognised for their efforts to be flexible, consultative, proactive and/or innovative.
In 2010, students registered with AccessAbility Services nominated Beth Tinning for providing additional support. In this personal account, the first time IPAA recipient reflects on her teaching practice that shows strong commitment to inclusive teaching practice.
Lecturer, Discipline of Community Work and Social Welfare
The nomination for an Inclusive Practice Acknowledgment Award means a lot to me as the nomination actually comes from students. This has prompted me to reflect on what I do and what I’d like to do better in the future to ensure our students have the same or similar opportunities to learn, regardless of whether they fit into a mainstream idea of ‘ability’. On a personal level, I am quite moved. I have been passionate about inclusivity throughout my working life, first as a social worker and now as lecturer. I’m glad to know I’m on the right track though I still hope to learn more about recognizing and supporting students with a range of different abilities. I believe that to do this, I need to be open to the ways some students are negotiating their study life in partnership with a temporary or permanent disability, illness or health condition.
It seems to me that many students aren’t aware, particularly in first year, that it is OK to ask for flexibility, for additional materials and consideration. I am committed to creating a space that feels safe for students to simply talk about their barriers to learning or assessment. That said, I am equally aware that for many reasons students might not be able to ‘talk’ with a lecturer about what is going on, so it is important that I am proactive about my teaching resources; teaching style and the physical spaces students must negotiate.
There have been times when I have needed to adapt my teaching style to meet the needs of a student, and each time this occurs I learn more about the craft of teaching. I suspect my ‘learning’ about ‘teaching’, including ‘inclusive teaching’ will go on for many years.