Since joining the Inclusive Services group I have had the opportunity to undertake a number of tasks which have assisted in my own understanding of issues within Higher Education which can provide barriers to an equal experience for our students.

First Point of Contact

As a member of the Customer Service team I am very aware that I’m often a first point of contact for students who may be struggling, or would benefit from extra help and services that they do not know how to access, or even that they exist. I’ve noticed that students are often surprised when I’m able to point them in the direction of software or a service that can assist them. This would indicate that we have much more to do in terms of advertising what we do.

Students do not always open up about their problems, although I’ve found in my prior experience as being at the desk during out of hours period that the quieter time allows more chance for a student to describe what is happening to them.  Crucially, we all need to be careful to not assume what a student needs, even in the face of visible disabilities as accessibility is not a one-size fits all.  For issues which do not present visibly, this is even more crucial.

Training Opportunities

I have undergone a number of training sessions which aim to raise awareness of the issues that students from different cultures may face and to also understand more about the experiences of LGBT students.  In addition, there has also been practical training (whether online or within a classroom) which provides further signposting to how we can help.  For example, some online training has emphasised setting boundaries for what you can safely provide for students suffering from mental health conditions, such as being unable to guarantee confidentiality and, through not being a trained counsellor, to be careful with the advice provided.

In my role on the Customer Service team my role mainly involves signposting to the Wellbeing or International offices for example as I’m aware that they have more expertise than I would.  It also involves suggesting that students may be able to visit the Transcription Centre for help with lectures in different formats or that we have suitable spaces within the library for visually impaired students which can help them.

I have experienced University as a student and so understand some of the pressures, but also what the University is able to offer.  As a result, I’ve used assistive technology in order to pace my delivery of a paper at a conference.  The ReadandWrite software allowed me to add my essay and then have it compiled into an audio mp3 format. From that, I could see the time it would take to deliver without intonations and use this to better organise it.

I have also used (and later researched) screen readers.  It is so tempting to consider a screen reader an infallible tool, but they are at their most useful on well-designed sites.  I have assisted students to change the way they check their email from online versions to apps, which offer far better accessibility in the form of keyboard shortcuts.  It was not until I attempted to use a reader myself that I truly realised how overwhelming the amount of information given can be.  Sometimes, it is this direct, empathic experience which is the greatest tool in thinking about how we provide information and how we can make that more robust.

Projects

Taking part in an audit of accessibility of various ebook platforms also demonstrated that there is lots to be done to improve services.  A large, multi-institution project sought to collate how easy accessible information was to find on a number of publisher sites, asking users to fill out a questionnaire.  It was disheartening to see how few publishers made finding accessibility information a priority.  A simple rule was given: If you cannot find it within 5 minutes, say it isn’t available.  This showed me how incredibly difficult and time-consuming it can be trying to find resources for even the most simple adjustments.  I admire our Transcription Centre hugely in how they quickly turn around lectures in different formats, across a range of specialist subjects so our hard working students can make the most of their time here.

My Badge

The Inclusive Swansea University logo - fours semi circles, each a different colour, arranged together with the rounded side facing inward to create a square

In terms of my badge – I wear it with a sense of pride, although with some reticence.  With the range of adjustments to be made, it would be very difficult to be an expert on everything.  However, I hope that my badge represents that I am someone who is open to listening and finding a solution.  Indeed, Customer Service presents a number of challenges in working out new and better ways of carrying out tasks.  The inclusive services group offers a great opportunity for sharing knowledge and instantly thinking “I know someone who can help with that”.  The badge does not mean I know everything, but it does mean I’ll listen.

February 8th, 2019

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Ers ymuno â’r Grŵp Gwasanaethau Cynhwysol, rwyf wedi cael y cyfle i ymgymryd â nifer o dasgau sydd wedi gwella fy nealltwriaeth fy hun o faterion ym maes Addysg Uwch, sy’n gallu creu rhwystrau o ran rhoi profiad cyfartal i’n myfyrwyr.

Cyswllt Cyntaf

Rwy’n aelod o’r Tîm Gwasanaethau Cwsmeriaid ac felly rwy’n ymwybodol iawn fy mod i’n aml yn gyswllt cyntaf i fyfyrwyr a allai fod yn cael anhawster, neu fyfyrwyr a fyddai’n elwa ar gymorth a gwasanaethau ychwanegol nad ydyn nhw’n gwybod sut i’w cyrraedd, neu nad ydyn nhw’n gwybod eu bod nhw’n bodoli yn y lle cyntaf. Rwyf wedi sylwi bod myfyrwyr yn aml yn cael syndod pan fy mod i’n gallu eu cyfeirio at galedwedd neu wasanaeth a allai eu cynorthwyo. Mae hyn yn dangos bod gennym lawer mwy i’w wneud o ran hysbysebu’r hyn rydym ni’n ei wneud.

Nid yw myfyrwyr bob amser yn dweud wrthym am eu problemau. Wedi dweud hyn, rwyf wedi gweld drwy fy mhrofiad blaenorol o fod ar y ddesg y tu allan i oriau, fod y cyfnodau tawel yn rhoi mwy o gyfle i fyfyriwr ddisgrifio’r hyn sy’n digwydd iddo. Mae’n hanfodol ein bod ni’n ofalus i beidio â chymryd arnom ein bod ni’n gwybod yr hyn y mae myfyriwr ei angen, hyd yn oed yn wyneb anableddau gweledol oherwydd nad yw’r un math o hygyrchedd yn addas i bawb. Mae hyn hyd yn oed yn fwy pwysig ar gyfer materion nad ydynt yn amlwg yn weledol.

Cyfleoedd Hyfforddiant

Rwyf wedi cwblhau nifer o sesiynau hyfforddiant sydd â’r nod o godi ymwybyddiaeth am y materion y gallai myfyrwyr o wahanol ddiwylliannau eu hwynebu, ac i ddeall mwy hefyd am brofiadau myfyrwyr LHDT. Yn ogystal, cynhaliwyd hyfforddiant ymarferol (boed hynny ar-lein neu mewn ystafell ddosbarth), ac mae’n cynnig arwyddion pellach o ran sut y gallwn helpu. Er enghraifft, mae peth hyfforddiant ar-lein wedi pwysleisio’r ffiniau y gallwch eu gosod o ran yr hyn sy’n ddiogel i’w ddarparu i fyfyrwyr sy’n dioddef o gyflyrau iechyd meddwl, megis nid ydych yn gallu gwarantu cyfrinachedd, ac y dylid bod yn ofalus o ran y cyngor a ddarperir os nad ydych yn gwnselydd hyfforddedig.

Yn bennaf, mae fy rôl yn y Tîm Gwasanaethau Cwsmeriaid yn cynnwys cyfeirio myfyrwyr at y swyddfa llesiant a’r swyddfa ryngwladol, er enghraifft, oherwydd fy mod i’n ymwybodol bod ganddyn nhw fwy o arbenigedd na sydd gennyf fi. Mae hefyd yn cynnwys awgrymu y gallai myfyrwyr fynd i’r Ganolfan Drawsgrifio i gael cymorth gyda chael darlithoedd mewn fformatau gwahanol, neu nodi bod gennym fannau addas yn y llyfrgell a allai helpu myfyrwyr sydd â nam ar eu golwg.

Rwyf wedi bod yn fyfyriwr yn y Brifysgol, ac felly rwy’n deall rhywfaint o’r pwysau ond hefyd yr hyn sydd gan y Brifysgol i’w gynnig. O ganlyniad, rwyf wedi defnyddio technoleg gynorthwyol i amseru papur a gyflwynais mewn cynhadledd. Galluogodd y feddalwedd ReadandWrite mi i ychwanegu fy nhraethawd, ac yna i’w grynhoi mewn fformat sain mp3. Wedi hynny, roedd modd i mi weld yr amser y byddai’n ei gymryd i gyflwyno heb lafarganu, a defnyddio’r feddalwedd i drefnu’r cyflwyniad yn well.

Rwyf hefyd wedi defnyddio darllenwyr sgriniau ac wedi gwneud ymchwil iddynt. Mae’n hynod ddeniadol ystyried bod darllenydd sgrin yn anffaeledig, ond maen nhw fwyaf defnyddiol ar wefannau sydd wedi’u dylunio’n dda. Rwyf wedi cynorthwyo myfyrwyr i newid y ffordd y maen nhw’n gwirio eu cyfrif e-byst o’r fersiynau ar-lein i apiau – maen nhw lawer yn fwy hygyrch ar ffurf llwybrau brys ar yr allweddell. Dim ond pan roddais gynnig ar ddefnyddio darllenydd fy hun y gwnes i sylweddoli y gall y wybodaeth a roddir eich llethu’n llwyr. O bryd i’w gilydd, y profiad uniongyrchol ac empathig hwn yw’r arf gorau o ran meddwl am y ffordd rydym yn darparu gwybodaeth, a sut y gallwn wneud hyn yn fwy cadarn.

Prosiectau

Ar ôl cymryd rhan mewn archwiliad o hygyrchedd platfformau e-lyfrau gwahanol, dangoswyd bod llawer i’w wneud i wella’r gwasanaethau. Ceisiodd prosiect mawr ar draws sawl sefydliad gasglu gwybodaeth am ba mor hygyrch oedd dod o hyd i wybodaeth ar nifer o wefannau cyhoeddwyr – a gofynnwyd i ddefnyddwyr gwblhau holiadur. Roedd yn ddigalon gweld cynlleied o gyhoeddwyr oedd yn rhoi blaenoriaeth i ddod o hyd i wybodaeth am hygyrchedd. Rhoddwyd rheol syml: Os nad ydych yn gallu dod o hyd iddi o fewn 5 munud, nodwch nad yw ar gael. Gwnaeth hyn ddangos i mi ba mor hunllefus o anodd a thrafferthus y mae’n gallu bod i ddod o hyd i adnoddau ar gyfer gwneud yr addasiadau mwyaf syml. Rwy’n edmygu’r Ganolfan Drawsgrifio yn fawr o ran sut maen nhw’n creu darlithoedd mewn fformatau gwahanol mor gyflym, ar draws ystod o bynciau arbenigol fel bod ein myfyrwyr sy’n gweithio’n galed yn gallu gwneud y gorau o’u hamser yma.

Fy mathodyn

The Inclusive Swansea University logo - fours semi circles, each a different colour, arranged together with the rounded side facing inward to create a square

O ran fy mathodyn – rwy’n ei wisgo gydag ymdeimlad o falchder yn ogystal â swildod. Byddai’n anodd iawn bod yn arbenigwr ar bob dim gyda’r ystod o addasiadau sydd i’w gwneud. Fodd bynnag, rwy’n gobeithio bod fy mathodyn yn dangos fy mod i’n rhywun sy’n barod i wrando a dod o hyd i ateb. Yn wir, mae nifer o heriau o yn codi yn y Gwasanaethau Cwsmeriaid o ran dod o hyd i ffyrdd newydd a ffyrdd gwell o gwblhau tasgau. Mae’r grŵp gwasanaethau cynhwysol yn cynnig cyfle gwych i rannu gwybodaeth a meddwl yn syth, “rwy’n gwybod am rywun a allai helpu gyda hynny.” Nid yw’r bathodyn yn golygu fy mod i’n gwybod popeth, ond mae’n golygu fy mod i’n gwrando.

 

February 8th, 2019

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Did you know that the library is part of the Inclusive Services Group (ISG) for Information Services and Systems (ISS) at the university? The group works to promote inclusive behaviour and attitudes amongst ISS staff and service users and to create a positive and inclusive learning environment in each library.​ We have created a logo and a badge to recognise good work in this area: ‘Inclusive Swansea University’. Badges can be awarded to any member of staff in the university, but they must be earned! Here’s a little bit about the work I’ve done to gain my badge.

Philippa Price proudly holding up her Inclusive Swansea University badge

I’m really proud to be chair of the ISS inclusive services group. Involvement with ISG is one of the best parts of my job! I’ve learnt so much from working closely with colleagues who have far more experience than I do in accessibility, equal access and supporting students with additional needs. It’s a privilege to work closely with people who are committed to making inclusion part of their usual practice. There are challenges, but we are striving to make library services inclusive by default. I’m particularly keen to highlight ways that our everyday services can offer flexibility to students with a range of needs. For instance, Ask a Librarian instant chat (9-5, Monday-Friday) is a great way to get a quick answer to your question without leaving your desk – no struggling to get to the Information Desk, no stressing out waiting in a queue, no need even to visit campus! Our automatic renewal system is brilliant for anyone who finds it hard to remember when their books are due back – just keep checking your university email and we’ll let you know when you need to return your loans!

Through the ISS inclusive services group, I’ve organised and attended staff awareness sessions on a variety of topics including the autistic spectrum, trans inclusion, support services and international cultures. Each of these sessions has introduced me to challenges that our students and staff might face and shown me how hard they work to achieve their potential. The message that comes through in each case is the value of not making assumptions and respecting each person as an individual.

The group has also inspired me to work with colleagues to establish the Better Read project. Research shows that reading for pleasure can be an effective form of stress relief. It’s easy to lose the habit of reading just for the fun of it at university – there’s so much ‘serious’ reading to do and a lot of competition for your time. We want to help you keep that habit, though! We’re not all about textbooks; there’s lots of fiction available from your university library, and a whole host of good reading available from your local public library. As a librarian, the value of books and reading is very close to my heart so I’m pleased to support it in this way.

7 members of the ISS staff book club sitting around a table, smiling and holding copies of a book

ISS staff enjoying a good read!

We’re lucky at Swansea University to have a number of services to help with inclusive learning and support. My work with the inclusive services group has led to me build relationships in departments across the university. Look out for badge holders as you walk around the university, and please ask us why we wear the badge.

 

February 4th, 2019

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Wyddech chi fod y llyfrgell yn rhan o’r Grŵp Gwasanaethau Cynhwysol (ISG) ar gyfer y Gwasanaethau Gwybodaeth a Systemau (GGS) yn y Brifysgol? Mae gwaith y grŵp yn anelu at hyrwyddo ymddygiad ac agwedd cynhwysol ymhlith staff y GGS a defnyddwyr y gwasanaeth, a chreu amgylchedd dysgu cynhwysol a chadarnhaol ym mhob llyfrgell.  Rydym wedi creu logo a bathodyn i gydnabod gwaith da yn y maes hwn: ‘Prifysgol Abertawe Cynhwysol’. Gellir dyfarnu bathodynnau i unrhyw aelod o staff yn y Brifysgol, ond mae’n rhaid eu bod yn eu haeddu! Dyma ychydig o wybodaeth am y gwaith rwyf wedi’i wneud i ennill fy mathodyn.

Philippa Price proudly holding up her Inclusive Swansea University badge

Rwy’n falch iawn o gadeirio grŵp gwasanaethau cynhwysol y GGS. Bod yn rhan o’r ISG yw un o rannau gorau fy swydd! Rwyf wedi dysgu cymaint o ganlyniad i weithio’n agos gyda chydweithwyr sydd â llawer mwy o brofiad na fi ym maes hygyrchedd, mynediad cyfartal a chefnogi myfyrwyr sydd ag anghenion ychwanegol. Mae’n fraint gweithio’n agos gyda phobl sydd wedi ymrwymo i wneud cynwysoldeb yn rhan o’u harferion beunyddiol. Mae heriau, ond rydym yn gwneud ymdrech i sicrhau bod gwasanaethau’r llyfrgell yn gynhwysol yn ddiofyn. Yn benodol, rwy’n awyddus i dynnu sylw at ffyrdd y gall ein gwasanaethau bob dydd gynnig hyblygrwydd i fyfyrwyr sydd ag amrywiaeth o anghenion. Er enghraifft, mae’r gwasanaeth sgwrs sydyn Ask a Librarian (9 tan 5 o ddydd Llun i ddydd Gwener) yn ffordd wych o ofyn cwestiwn cyflym heb orfod gadael eich desg – does dim angen poeni am gyrraedd y Ddesg Wasanaeth, dim straen o orfod aros mewn ciw, does dim angen i chi ddod i’r campws hyd yn oed! Mae ein system adnewyddu awtomatig yn wych i unrhyw un sy’n ei chael hi’n anodd cofio pryd mae angen dychwelyd eu llyfrau – cofiwch wirio eich e-bost prifysgol a byddwn yn rhoi gwybod i chi pan fo angen dychwelyd yr hyn sydd ar fenthyg gennych!

Drwy grŵp gwasanaethau cynhwysol y GGS, rwyf wedi trefnu a mynd i sesiynau ymwybyddiaeth staff ynghylch ystod o bynciau, gan gynnwys y sbectrwm awtistig, cynnwys pobl drawsrywiol, gwasanaethau cymorth a diwylliannau rhyngwladol. Mae pob un o’r sesiynau hyn wedi fy nghyflwyno i’r heriau y gallai ein myfyrwyr a’n staff eu hwynebu, ac wedi dangos i mi pa mor galed y maen nhw’n gweithio er mwyn cyflawni eu potensial. Y neges sy’n dod i’r amlwg ym mhob achos yw’r gwerth o beidio â rhagdybio, a pharchu pob person fel unigolyn.

Mae’r grŵp hefyd wedi fy ysbrydoli i weithio gyda chydweithwyr i sefydlu’r prosiect Better Read (Darllen yn Well). Yn ôl ymchwil, gall dysgu er pleser fod yn ffordd effeithiol o leddfu straen. Mae’n hawdd colli’r arfer o ddarllen er pleser yn y brifysgol – mae cymaint o ddarllen ‘difrifol’ i’w wneud, ac mae’n anodd dod o hyd i’r amser rhwng pob dim arall. Serch hynny, rydym eisiau eich helpu i fynd i’r arfer unwaith eto! Nid gwerslyfrau yn unig sydd gennym;  mae llawer o lyfrau ffuglen ar gael yn llyfrgell eich prifysgol ac arlwy o ddeunyddiau darllen da ar gael yn eich llyfrgell gyhoeddus leol. A minnau’n llyfrgellydd, mae llyfrau a darllen yn hynod werthfawr i mi felly rwy’n falch o’u cefnogi yn y ffordd hon.

7 members of the ISS staff book club sitting around a table, smiling and holding copies of a book

Staff GGS yn mwynhau cael darllen!

Rydym yn ffodus bod gennym nifer o wasanaethau i helpu gyda dysgu a chymorth cynhwysol ym Mhrifysgol Abertawe. Drwy fy ngwaith gyda’r grŵp gwasanaethau cynhwysol, rwyf wedi meithrin perthnasoedd mewn adrannau ar draws y Brifysgol. Cadwch olwg ar y rhai sydd â bathodynnau wrth i chi gerdded o gampws y Brifysgol, a gofynnwch i ni pam ein bod ni’n gwisgo’r bathodyn.

February 4th, 2019

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This year’s theme for LGBT History Month is “Geography: Mapping the World”. To celebrate we have put on display at our Singleton Park Library some books, DVDs and other items written by welsh authors.

We have, as our featured author, Jan Morris – well known for the Pax Britannica trilogy (1968-1978), a history of the British Empire. She is also recognised for her colourful travel writing including  Trieste and the meaning of nowhere, A writer’s world : travels 1950-2000 and Wales : epic views of a small country.  Jan’s 1974 autobiography Conundrum was one of the first to recount the experience of gender re-assignment.

Other works in the display include autobiographies by Welsh sportsmen – Gareth Thomas’s Proud and Nigel Owens’s Hanner Amser. They both broke down barriers in sport for gay men when they came out publicly. Their work describes the struggles of that journey.

The work of sociologist and gay activist Jeffrey Weeks is also featured. Historian and activist Norena Shopland has been making visible the contribution made to the culture of Wales in her latest book Forbidden Lives (a brand new acquisition for our library collections).

 

Themes of lesbian love and desire in the Victorian era are explored in the work of Welsh writer Sarah Waters a selection of whose novels and DVDs are displayed. The work of Stonewall Award winning Welsh author John Sam Jones, who wrote Welsh Boys Too and Fishboys of Vernazza is also included. His novels and short stories draw upon the experiences of young gay men in Wales.

And our celebration would not be complete without Swansea born screenwriter and television producer Russell T Davies whose works include Queer as Folk, The Second Coming, Doctor Who and Torchwood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We hope you enjoy the display!

If you would like to find out more about items we hold on LGBT related themes you may be interested in reading our previous blog post. You will find further reading on the LGBT reading list that we have put together.

 

 

February 2nd, 2018

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