In May, students at our EDI Advisory Board identified concerns about how to access the University Disability Service – called AccessAbility. The main concern was around how students can contact the service and how they can access Quick Query Appointments. In September, our Communities & Equality Officer and Guild colleagues, met with the AccessAbility team to discuss issues with accessing the service and possible solutions to overcome this.
What is AccessAbility?
This is a University team who can provide information and advice for students with a disability or long-term health condition. The team can:
• Create an Individual Learning Plan
• Provide help and advice for student applying for funded support (including Disabled Student Allowance)
• Help you apply for specialist one-to-one support and equipment.
• Help you access support arrangements for specific accommodation and car parking permits.
• Signpost you to other services at the University and locally.
How can you contact AccessAbility?
Currently, students are able to contact AccessAbility via emails, in-person appointments, live chat, by visiting one of their 4 receptions or SID desk, or using the SID system remotely. Contacting the team via telephone calls is not feasible for all students and those at AccessAbility are aware and have been working to try and tackle this issue.
AccessAbility delivered 50% more appointments this year than last and this does not account for the staggering number of enquiries they have to respond to. The capacity barriers they face unfortunately mean that the instant messaging (IM) and email services take longer to respond to and students seeking more timely responses are best utilising the Quick Query telephone service.
What are Quick Queries?
Currently Quick Query appointments are one route of support AccessAbility offer, and these can be booked by telephone, or in person at any of Accessibility’s 4 receptions. Quick query appointments are booked on the same day and currently booked through a first-come-first-serve telephone service. They currently take place online and aim to discuss topics around the types of support AccessAbility services can offer; advice on DSA applications; updates on ILP’s and advice for booking appointments.
In a conversation between AccessAbility and the Guild, it was acknowledged that the 15 minute long Quick Query appointments are not suitable for all students or topics, and the team are currently exploring whether it would be best to reduce the amount of these appointments, creating more time to support students and respond to email queries/ instant messages.
AccessAbility are currently investigating extending the live chat feature on their website to see if this can facilitate booking quick query appointments.
Other proposals suggested, included having a more user-friendly website design, such as utilising an FAQ’s page to answer some queries students may have and creating a guide for the steps required to access the Disability Support Services.
How can you get involved?
If you have any suggestions regarding students accessing the Disability Support Service, or ways that could improve access to AccessAbility or other Wellbeing Services, tell us by contacting email@example.com