- Supervisors & managers
- Premia - making research education accessible
- Supervising disabled researchers - Premia
- Understanding disability in the context of research
- Practical implications for disabled postgraduate researchers
Practical implications for disabled postgraduate researchers
Disabled postgraduate researchers experience different challenges in the research process. During the Premia research, disabled postgraduate researchers identified the key issues and challenges quoted below. There are many common themes, but it is often a matter of degree. Preferred learning styles will fit into broad categories, but it is good if we avoid making assumptions. For example one dyslexic researcher may find planning and organising the main overriding problem; another will find the volume of reading the main source of concern; another punctuation or spelling. The level of difficulty can vary, and therefore the strategies to overcome the issues may differ, as will the extent of reasonable adjustments.
If disabled postgraduate researchers feel comfortable to disclose their disability and discuss the aspects of their research study which will be problematic, then they are often the best advisers for their requirements and necessary adjustments. Reasonable adjustments can also be explored with disability advisers, technical assessors and the supervision team. Some will ask for no adjustments as their strategies for managing their learning may be well-developed and adaptable to the research process.
Experiences of disabled postgraduate researchers
‘When dyslexic people read things, we don't read exactly what everyone else reads. For example with something like a newspaper, we'll look at it, read completely the wrong thing, pass on and never know that we've read the thing wrongly. We'll be thinking about it, and it's built into our knowledge but it's slightly off. So that changes your whole perception of the world because you've read something slightly differently from everyone else. You will never pick up on it; I will never pick up on it.’Doctoral researcher with dyslexia
‘Reading is not really an issue for me... As my research degree involves a lot of reading, I usually prefer to work at home where I can concentrate more easily. I do occasionally use the excellent postgraduate rooms in the library. The department also has work rooms which contain many desks and some computers. These would be helpful, but as I find it difficult to concentrate if there is external noise, these rooms are impractical for me.’MLitt researcher with dyslexia
‘In a one-to-one conversation I can get by very well, but add more people to the conversation and I get rather lost. There is a technical gadget I could buy for a four-figure sum which may help this problem, but being rather short of a thousand pounds and the nerve to wave a microphone around during all my conversations, there is little I can do about it except to make people aware of my hearing loss so that if there is anything important being said, they address it directly to me.’Postgraduate researcher with a hearing impairment
‘When I arrived at University, there was a series of introductory lectures and other lectures intended for research students. I skipped all of them except for the first one as they were a complete waste of my time. The main reason was any support I wanted (which would have been an audio-typist) would have been a nightmare to get.’Postgraduate researcher with a hearing impairment