2015

Interview with an Inclusive Education Officer

Authors note: Jacqueline Lenting is one of two Inclusive Education Officers who are qualified Occupational Therapists employed by False Bay TVET College.                             

What exactly are the services that you offer as an Occupational Therapist?

The Occupational Therapist functions as the Inclusive Education Officer within the Student Support and Development Services Department of False Bay TVET College.

 

Its aim is to offer an environment for inclusion, consultation, liaison, and the provision of services for students with disabilities (physical – including chronic medical problems as well as learning and psychiatric disabilities).

How the service typically functions is, for example, when a student with a disability applies for admission to False Bay TVET College and voluntarily discloses their disability status, they will be referred to the Occupational Therapist who will evaluate whether their selected course can be adapted to accommodate them.

The Occupational Therapist will also put forward recommendations as to what type of support the student will need e.g. specialised technology and equipment, ergonomic adaptations, alternative print formats, note taking, scribes, class/exam concessions, educational requirements regarding their condition and the management thereof.

(Confidentiality: information provided to the Inclusive Education Officer is treated in confidence and will not be released to anyone without the students’ permission.)

What are the common struggles students with disabilities face?

Students with disabilities often have transport problems getting to and from campus. We advise that a prospective student with a physical disability arrange private transport or contact Dial-A-Ride for assistance.

Not all TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) colleges are accessible to students with disabilities thereby limiting their options in respect of what course they can pursue and which institution they are able to apply to.

Often the student with a disability is unable to pursue a chosen field owing to their impairment. Thus, we recommend that they research other courses which are in line with their interests, but may be more accommodating to their needs.

How would you advise a learner on how to mentally prepare for the physical and/or psychological challenges of college?

It is important to choose the course that you are interested in. Do research about your chosen field of study and whether or not the necessary accommodations can be implemented to suit your disability.

Students need to improve their study skills. Students may contact the Inclusive Education Officer/Student Support Officer who can help them find their preferred learning style.

It is important that students are self-motivated and driven to succeed. Attendance of all classes and studying on a daily basis is crucial to their success.

What are the highlights/achievements regarding your job?

False Bay TVET College received the National Disability Higher Education Institution Award 2014 for supporting the advancement of people with disabilities, awarded by the Department of Social Development on the 2 November 2014.

False Bay College is the only TVET institution that employs two qualified Occupational Therapists to assist students with disabilities.

Students with disabilities are able to compete academically in the classroom with able-bodied students when they can be adequately accommodated. Then they can focus on succeeding.

Due to the College’s willingness to embrace the inclusion of persons with disabilities, they are no longer segregated from society but can learn alongside able-bodied persons.

When students with disabilities who have faced numerous challenges throughout their education careers, are finally able to, with suitable support provided by False Bay TVET College, reach certification and their career goals.

 

Caption: Jacqueline Lenting: Inclusive Education Officer for False Bay TVET College; Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha Campuses.