Disability Inclusion Institutional Framework (DIIF)

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Disability inclusion is a key priority for higher education, but it is too often seen as the poor relation in the inclusion agenda. With this in mind, we are pleased to announce the launch of the Disability-Inclusion Institutional Framework (DIIF) developed by Professor Carol Evans (University of Southampton) and Dr Xiaotong Zhu (EGI) following extensive research into key issues impacting disabled student and staff access and equal opportunities to do well within the higher education context

The Disability Inclusion Institutional Framework (DIIF) is a conceptual framework and checklist designed to support higher education leadership teams in scaling up Disability Inclusion throughout their organisations and across sectors with all stakeholders.

Framework Themes

Meta Theme A: Shared Ownership 

Quality of Leadership - Knowledge and understanding of disability and capacity to build integrated and inclusive communities, informed by high quality research and evaluation

1. Leadership Capacity: commitment to building institution-wide disability inclusive practice (the will to do this, insight to action, ability to mobilise, embed and sustain). A clear university vision exists around what disability inclusion (DI) is, and the theoretical framework informing it.

2. Evidence-Informed: bringing together detailed understanding of context and individual differences and use of robust methodologies and research to inform practice.

3. Embedded Evaluation: within all systems and processes including the 12 themes of this framework. Tools provided and staff and students trained in agile evaluation processes.

4. Integrated Delivery: enables shared ownership by central support services, academic faculty, student groups, employers, networks, and providers of specialist support. Emphasis is on a holistic approach to supporting social and academic access and integration. Systems are agile in pursuing areas of promise and in tackling concerns through ongoing evaluation of the quality and effectiveness of provision. 

Meta Theme B: Empowerment 

Efficiency of systems to support disability inclusion including effectiveness of communications and training in promoting access. Cultures of inclusion promote access and engage disabled students and staff in the shaping and delivery of services

5. Clear Communication: around the valuing of diversity, and development of a shared language of inclusion. Access to support is explicit, there is a transparent route map of resources available to support disabled student/staff. The communications strategy ensures consistency and currency of information, and the central engagement of disabled students/staff, and senior leaders in its development and operationalisation.

6. Enabling Student and Staff Voice: Disabled students and staff are centrally involved in the design, development, and evaluation of DI provision.

7. Disability Inclusion Training: engages all staff and students, and goes beyond awareness, to supporting and rewarding changes in practice to enhance access for all.

8. Enabling Access: achieved through creating cultures so that individuals feel able to disclose a disability, and mainstreaming core supports. Commitment to realising a fully inclusive environment, enables resource to be allocated most effectively. 

Meta Theme C: Independence

Supporting agency through the development of selfadvocacy and self-regulation skills, and tailoring transitions support to address the entirety of the student /staff experience - assisted by the availability and effective use of assistive technologies, and application of inclusive curriculum approaches to ensure full access to learning

9. Inclusive Learning and Teaching: anticipatory approach-reasonable adjustments inbuilt.

10. Assistive Technologies (ATs) core provision mainstreamed to support access to, and success in, learning. Baseline standards of AT agreed.

11. Transitions Support: viewed as a process and not as a point in time. Coherent and coordinated with partners with emphasis on supporting disabled student/staff network development.

12. Promoting Self-advocacy as part of self-regulatory skill development holistically, and within disciplines. 

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