- Supervisors & managers
- Premia - making research education accessible
- Supervising disabled researchers - Premia
- Understanding reading issues
Understanding reading issues
It may be the first time that you have worked with a disabled postgraduate researcher who has difficulties with the intensive reading demanded by research. Consider the following questions;
- Are there any strategies for supporting those researchers?
- How can we ensure that the support we give is productive and enables the researcher to harness their other skills and insights?
Below are some practical ways to provide appropriate support in the context of reading.
- Find out from the outset which tasks and activities the researcher may find problematic. Do not make any assumptions. Ask the researcher if they have contacted the disability support service to discuss their learning support requirements. If not, advise them to contact the service and see what type of support is available
- Ensure that they are aware of the funding available (e.g. Disabled Student Allowance) from the Research Councils or their LEA to meet their support requirements, for example to meet the costs of a reader or adaptive software
- Liaise with the disability adviser with whom your researcher is working to share the reading issues and devise support strategies
- If the researcher uses assistive software e.g. screen reader, enlarger, scanner, ask the researcher how much extra time it takes so that realistic time frames can be devised. Staff might try out the software; it can help understanding of the issues
- Identify key texts which really are essential reading, ones which will most efficiently provide the foundation the student needs for their research
- Prioritise reading lists and, if possible, identify for the researcher key chapters and sections
- Find out whether the researcher can access key journals using their existing software. The library will be able to give advice on this
- Find out if the library catalogue is accessible using the researcher's assistive software
- Introduce a glossary of essential terminology with plain English definitions
- Create reading plans which are realistic and achievable. Check back with the researcher regularly to review their reading schedule
- Check back with researchers in supervision meetings that they are interpreting the literature effectively
Direct the researcher to study guides, particularly those which are written for students with language difficulties.