Making inclusivity happen
Working as technicians involves helping students and staff from many diverse backgrounds and situations. We want students to do well, it’s in our blood!
We were presented with an idea - to get down on paper all the considerations and steps we take to accommodate the unique student circumstances which we deal with every day. We were told that this document would become inclusivity guidelines for technicians at the University. Initially we had reservations; however, we felt that it was an initiative which, if done well, would be really useful for us as a community of technicians.
Working as technicians involves helping students and staff from many diverse backgrounds and situations, in terms of age, disability, gender status, ethnicity, religion and maternity status to name just a few. We all do - open the lab early or change the way we work to cater for a students requirements - its in our blood! We want students to do well. We thought it was a great opportunity to capture this extensive experience and to agree a set of guidelines which summarise this positive approach to the work we do.
Inclusivity can be as simple as using images instead of words in signage.
We were given the opportunity to write the content as we saw fit which we appreciated as the project was initiated by the Equality Policy Unit and SDDU, who arent technicians. We brought our experience and examples of students we have helped, or seen colleagues help, over the years. We formulated a document which has been bounced back and forth many times, until we were happy with the outcome.
Finding the correct term and the right words to use so as not to cause any offence was a tricky task. There is a fine line to walk when trying to put sensitive material down on paper. When does political correctness become not enough or too much?
A draft of the guidelines was distributed to fellow technicians at the Technicians Network meeting in January and also sent to equality and diversity officers, student support staff, the LUU and other interested parties. Collating the feedback was a difficult task as we are first and foremost technicians, policy writing is not high up on our daily schedules! It didnt help that some comments were quite abrupt; however, we put on our thick skins and forged ahead. The next step is to distribute the draft guidelines to technical service managers and anyone who is responsible for managing technicians across the University.
A technician helping a German student with her work
We hope that the result of all this work will be a document we can all use to guide the way we accommodate student diversity. We will be able to use it when new technicians start, and it will also serve as a useful reminder for the more experienced amongst us. We also hope that you will find it useful and that it will be something we can all own and take pride in.
Written by Stacey Galloway and Susanne Patel.Posted in: Technicians' network