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Third USYD Disability Action Plan launched last week

John Gooding reports on the latest in USYD’s Disability Action Plan.

Last Friday morning the University officially launched its third Disability Action Plan, which comes after a series of workshops and consultations last year and Senate approval in April.

The new plan outlines measures which are set to be implemented over the next six years, including 90% of all rooms having Braille signage and 95% of all teaching staff having undergone disability awareness training by 2018.

SRC Disability Officer Yaz Camdzic said that the plan was “a start”, but more needed to be done regarding the attitude of the University’s community. “The culture is really lacking,” he said. During workshops conducted last year students brought up multiple examples of staff acting indifferently to their requests for aid.

Around 2% of staff and 4% percent of students identify as having a disability. However, according to the plan self-reporting likely underestimates the actual number of disabled individuals. “This may be due to the varied nature of disability, people’s openness to discuss disability and the implications around disclosure,” the plan states. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 6.6% of all Australians aged between 15 and 24 reported that they had a disability in 2009.

The plan will cost the University nearly $6 million to implement and comes at a time when the University is under some financial strain. However, Jordi Austin, Director of Student Support Services at the University, stated in an email that “a careful budget submission has been presented to the Budget Committee to ensure that the priorities for 2014 are both strategic in achieving the aims of the Disability Action Plan and financially sustainable for the University.”

“Many components of the Disability Action Plan have broader benefits for the entire student body – more accessible resources, online learning tools, more accessible learning spaces, et cetera.”