Feb 07, 2022 by Elaine Jones

Making assumptions

In my early days as an ALN Co-ordinator and keen to make sure a young person was fully supported, I assumed I knew what adjustments were needed for someone who had stated on application that she had a visual impairment.

I spent many hours going through course materials, emailing staff and making every adjustment possible to enlarge resources. When I did meet the learner, I was informed very quickly that everything I had done had ensured she couldn’t access the material. Wrong font, wrong font size, on A3 when she wanted A4 - I had done nothing right despite my best efforts. 

Seeing an application from a young person who used a wheelchair, a lecturer insisted that a support worker should be allocated to push the learner around the campus. That young man played wheelchair rugby for Wales, wanted to be independent in moving around and certainly didn’t want someone assigned to him. He didn’t see himself as disabled, he just used a wheelchair.  

My learners know the challenges they face and listening to them is vital. We need to find out what works for them but also what has not worked and most importantly, not make assumptions on what we think is needed.  

Elaine Jones - ALN Manager, Coleg Gwent