The Student Story – Universal Design of Learning
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The Student Story – Universal Design of Learning

Willkommen! Bienvenue! Welcome! As part of this project, we worked with over 100 students from across Europe and
this is their story. We started by inviting students with
disabilities from Ireland, Norway and Belgium to apply to take part. We asked them if you could give one
piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be? We had 81 applicants with some great advice. Always stay positive! Life is made out of ups and downs – having
a negative attitude won’t help you any further. In a way, I am thankful for my disability
because it made me who I am today – strong, positive and most of all grateful
for what I have. Because after all, your disability doesn’t determine who you are – you do! It is no defeat to ask for help. Don’t
believe you’re a superhuman. Everybody needs a break sometimes. Enjoy every moment! It sounds cliché but
as a student with a learning disability you are constantly reminded of the things
that you have difficulty with or that you don’t excel in. I truly believe that with the right
support from the schooling institution, people with any form of disability can
find their way and can be successful. I would encourage young me to face his
problems head-on and to never give up, to always keep your chin up even if you made a rather silly mistake
or a test didn’t go as planned. Live life to the fullest every day! My advice – don’t choose a university
based on where your friends are going Do ask for help Join clubs and societies and finally don’t leave things until the last minute, like I did submitting this application five minutes
before the deadline. From these applications, we brought nine
students together for a week in Dublin city but wait! Who were these students? Ah! They seem pretty cool – tell me more Hello! My name is Sofie and I’m from
Belgium. I’m not just a student I’m a learner. I finished my previous studies
in management in 2009 and I worked for a period but I had to quit my job due to health issues – this really
changed my life and although you may not expect to, it
changed my life in a positive way. I had to consider many things because
I’m no longer the person I used to be. The search for facilities to help me be a successful student wasn’t always easy. That’s why I was so happy when you
contacted me to join this project. Can we help to tackle the struggle for
students with disabilities? A Universal Design for Learning easy to access for students and clear. And why not inspiring for teachers. To
finish, let me ask you this – if you listen to Beethoven’s music, do you think of Beethoven as a Deaf person or do you simply admire his symphonies? (Beethoven music plays in the background) Hello, I’m Carolien and as you could just
see, I’m not just a student. I do a lot more with my time than studying alone! I love to meet my friends, I go swimming
with them I love to dance. I
love to travel and so much more. So that’s a bit of the life I lead and I
live that life in Ghent and I was really interested in the international
perspective of this project on good education for regular students and
students with a disability in higher education which is another motivation to
participate on this project because I have a disability of my own. I was born with a light paralyzation on
the left side of my body so was really keen on meeting other
students with a similar situation. In the focus groups, these students had a
chance to have their say and tell us what they really think. These students even got to present at a
conference run by AHEAD and share their own stories Hello, I’m Seppe. I’m one of the students of the student
focus group. When I was in my fifth year of high
school, I was not motivated at all. I think I got used to not doing well
in school and also meeting my limitations a lot. So in the end of the year, I failed
a couple of my classes and they had all the teachers together and the principal
to discuss if I could pass the year or not. One of my teachers – my biology
teacher – he told the other teachers that he would, I think, vouch for me and he
would put himself on the line basically and he met with me the next
year, once a month to see how everything was
doing; if I was doing well in my classes, if my
homework was going well and I passed my last year of high school with honours. So for me it made all the difference
because if I had to repeat my year before that I think I would gotten more demotivated and even more upset with the school system so the fact that
he put himself on the line to help me and tutor me, I guess, that made – for me personally – all the difference. Hi, my name is Colin. I’m a fourth-year
student in NUI Galway in the West of Ireland. I was asked to
describe a teacher also that inspired me and I’m going to talk about my
mathematics teacher in secondary school. I was a very weak student at maths
myself and it took me that bit longer to understand how to do different
calculations, etc. and because there was so much in the course, the teacher wasn’t
able to explain everything to me at the rate that the class were going so I had to get extra help outside school from another maths teacher and she explained
everything according to my ability and she led me to believe, she
inspired me and she always said I could do anything I wanted if I put my mind to it. And she led me in my way that I was able to do stuff … to do stuff I was good at and it was from her that I really got
my inspiration and was able to go to college and continue my education that
way. Everyone went home with plenty to think
about and a few months later, back to Dublin. And these students got to meet with a big group of Irish students for some
focus groups. There was coffee, pastries and lots of talking! Everyone shared thoughts, stories and ideas. The students told us what the toolkit
should look like, what the content should be and how the content should be
delivered. The toolkit should be logical, simplistic and broken into categories. The toolkit should take the form of a mobile friendly web page. It should be
organized by topic, not by disability and most of the
students don’t think of themselves as being disabled so they didn’t want to
see this word all over the toolkit. We took all of these ideas and made them
into an online resource for students called the Student Toolkit! The student
toolkit is an online resource for students. Universally designed and driven
by the advice of students – articles and videos about a range of different topics
from taking notes to writing an academic essay, from how to write an email to a lecturer, to what you can do when you’re going through a tough time. The mobile-friendly
website will adapt to your desktop, tablet or phone meaning the information can be accessed
anywhere, even on the go! The articles also have links to videos, websites, podcasts and apps so however you like to learn, there’s something for everyone. Disability or not, all students have questions. The website is focused on advice for
common problems rather than prescribing a set list of fixes for different types
of disabilities. After all, it’s not just students with
autism who have difficulties making friends and it’s not just students with
dyslexia who have problems on how to structure an essay. That being said,
students with disabilities do face some additional issues that other students do
not so we’ve got you covered there too – simple, intuitive and easy-to-use. Get from the home page to the information
you need within three clicks. Straight to the
point information that the students have asked for. When you start at University, nobody sits you down and teaches you how to become a good student so now there’s a resource full of the
stuff that today’s students have said they need. Check it out for yourself at! To recap, we engaged with the students. We got to know them well and we shared their stories so as professionals what you can do is
get to know your students. Listen, engage, talk, appreciate the
diversity of your learners. Engage your students. Be open, honest and approachable and
include them in the learning process. There is a continuous rise in diversity
in the student population so be reactive and proactive, share what works, pass on your learning
and your wisdom A group of the Dublin students also had the opportunity to work with a local poet, Colm Keegan, to write a group poem
based on their own experiences of college. They were also invited to design stamps
based on their experience as a learner. “Here we come, from all directions leaves
on the wind and art long mountain the ebb and flow of morning traffic hopping
off buses jumping out of our parents cars waiting good boy I just walk so
talking to others most not this is the fourth day after all we don’t know
anybody and we’re trying to play a kill here’s where it starts looking around at
where we are staring down a map timetable the mobile phone drawn towards
the same place with that name we’ve been saving repeat to our parents our friends
to anyone who’ll listen this morning we’re going to college college stepping
in to wear tomorrow weighed down with backpacks founders
laptops tablets coffees bottled water for some that’s plenty maybe too much folders that’s one cause my current soon melts and is only
assume bigger maybe hang over one night stand gone wrong an argument with a change over a recent
debt in the family a problem with drinking or drugs are both or maybe we
won’t be in town that we’re simply the wrong sex the wrong religion to world to run
cooler not fit enough disabled in some way that didn’t make the grade before
maybe skills never felt we maybe this is our second tree maybe that’s keeping us back all the
time holding us down we change our anchors maybe we’re all ready to bolt
ready to travel all the way we won’t not yet in our hearts we’ve started away
hope humanity’s oldest motivational flames and so did our ribcages we hold
their dreams some almost extinguished some
underscored like distance stairs and are we ask from you is that you see this and
give us a few teams consistency an environment that cares for our minds
her body’s ourselves to my to make friends a system of mentors we can trust the
turnip in both senses of the word to look for what we can see in ourselves
experiences without gets the land themselves eccentric stand passionate
always and sporting news to work hard at that we want to higher than we think we
can and if you want to know how hard it is folks just ask the best of you always do give us these
teams and we are we compared to the plan a connected part of the whole pretty
intricate parts of a watch or less separate so much more than just one
called only two people who invented to watch itself attract the song true
school club cosmos are mapped to soft machinery of the human heart here we call from all directions that leaves on the
wind in order students who want to stand as graduates
not just of college but in a way of being a life a way of taking a way of believing that anyone can be
the parison atrium of been so do these students live happily ever
after well that’s up to you yeah

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