Supporting students on work placements
Work placements can be a particularly valuable way for disabled students to experience the world of work, and provide an opportunity for personal development. It is important to offer all students including disabled equal access to work placements. When supporting disabled students on work placements it is useful to consider the following:
- Students should have the opportunity to disclose disabilities and medical conditions which may affect the work placement. You need to be aware that a disabled student may fear disclosure as they may feel that this puts them at a disadvantage in comparison to other students.
- If the disability is likely to impact on the work placement, e.g. where students will be working with children or there are health and safety reasons.The university may be obliged to ensure that the information is passed on (with the permission of the student)
- Students may need a Mentor from the University to support them when discussing their disability with the employer and to act as a point of contact throughout the process.
- If a student decides to disclose, appropriate adjustments should be made.
Reasonable adjustments might include:
- Ensuring that the placement is within a reasonable distance for the student to travel.
- An introductory visit prior to the work placement, whereby the student can familiarise himself/herself with the environment.
- Extra breaks (if appropriate)
- Assistive Technology.
- Support at the interview, prior to the work placement.
Funding to support disabled students on placement
- Disabled Student's Allowance (DSA)
- Access to work funding (may be available for additional equipment, or funding of special travel arrangements - contact Student Wellbeing Service)
- If there are reasonable adjustments the University may need to fund these.
- The employer may contribute to funding reasonable adjustments.
- The university has a legal responsibility under the Equality Act for ensuring that disabled students are not discriminated against during work placements.
- The university has a legal responsibility under the Equality Act to ensure that reasonable adjustments are made during work placements.
- Placement Tutors should liaise with each disabled student and ensure that placements are suited to the individual students and their specific needs.
- If disabled students are responsible for organising their own placements, they may need extra support throughout the process.
- If there is no suitable placement for the student, an alternative experience should be sought that will allow the student to meet the intended learning outcomes.
- Is there a written agreement outlining the roles and responsibilities of the placement provider, the institution and the students?
- Who is responsible for assessing the needs of individual students?
- Who will pay for the reasonable adjustments?
- Who is responsible for health and safety issues in the workplace?
- What are the procedures for termination of unsatisfactory placements?
- Has the extra funding required been allocated prior to the start of the placement?
- What procedures are in place for monitoring the placement in order to provide feedback to the employer, the institution and the student?
- Is there a named contact who will work with the student whilst on placement who can be contacted in the event of any problems?
- Are adjustments to assessment methods required to accommodate disabled students?
- Is disability awareness training offered to all placement organisers?
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