teaching with a disability

today i found a good article in NIACE Adults Learning magazine on a teacher, michael somerton, who was severely disabled due to a stroke but is teaching again in Hull University. let me describe first the ordeal of michael and his learning to teach again. michael is 64 years old and was a fulltime university lecturer at Hull University. he suffered a stroke that paralyzed his left hand, left leg and he lost his hearing in the right ear. he cannot speak clearly and has to speak slowly so he can articulate ideas and hear what he is saying. after a long period of recovery, he was convinced by his wife to teach again. the university and the UK government has a program Access to Work which offers financial assistance to disabled workers to do their job. michael applied for a support worker to help him conduct classes. michael is in a wheelchair and cannot raise his hand to write on the whiteboard nor distribute papers. the support worker michael needs will be his scribe, will facilitate discussions and hand out documents, move him around and bring him to the toilet, arrange for his exit and bring him to his wife’s car. but the important thing is the presence of the support worker will boost michael’s confidence in teaching. michael got peter as support worker and his first class became successful. michael wrote that his wife played a significant role by enabling the university to honor its legal obligations. she proofread and discussed his notes and documents, drove him to evening class and ensured that michael was in sufficient physical and psychological shape for a three hour class.

after reading this article, images of my father teaching classes everyday came. my 84 year old father, dr. cesar villariba, is not as disabled as michael but he has osteoporosis, scoliosis, slipped disc and pulmonary difficulties. he can barely walk nor talk but he keeps a daily teaching schedule in Enverga University, Lucena, Quezon province. my mother nene would prepare his meals and our cousin arnel would drive him every morning to school with my 12 year old nephew, johhny, as his cane. cesar has two support workers, gina and a student assistant who prepare all his documents and insure that he is comfortable. Enverga pays for gina’s salary and th student assistant gets subsidized. i handled his graduate classes on four saturdays last semester and i offered to be his co-lecturer but the university has to still appoint me as part-time lecturer. our government has no policy similar to Access to Work. i cannot get paid for helping my father teach but i do so out of love for learning and teaching. i wish more people with disabilities could be supported to do their job. the support for disabled teachers is part of lifelong learning advocacy and our government can learn from the UK on how it runs its support for teachers with disabilities.

if people want more information about michael somerton and lifelong learning , please visit http://www.niace.org.uk/publications.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Lifelong learning, Lucena Learning City

2 Comments on “teaching with a disability”

  1. david horner Says:

    In 1997 I suffered a brain haemorrhage which left me with a cognitive disability – I eventually re-qualified via an assessed route as apposed to an examined route.

    11 years on, having established myself as a European Occupational Health and Safety Practitioner, I have been unable to secure any reasonable adjustments from my professional body.

    All I’m asking for is the ability to use electronic copy of exam and project papers following training deliveries within Mainland Europe, so I may mark such wherever I am in Europe.

    I’ve exhausted all means of communication, and it now appears the institution is deleting my e-mail upon arrival.

    Any suggestions

    • mvillariba Says:

      david, am hoping you can contact the bodytalk access group IBA. they have neuroscience protocols that may be useful to you. since i am neither an european nor an american, am filipina, my circles are limited to private organizations who conduct healing in terms of energy medicine. i dont know what government bodies in Europe in charge of helping professionals with cognitive disabilities. i can only pray that you find good help.


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