Testimonial: Mike Horner, Imperial College London

Mike Horner, Imperial College London

Service Line Manager (Education) of Information & Communication Technologies

Imperial College launched an Inclusive Technology Project in 2018 with the aim of enhancing the quality and availability of assistive technologies and other digital study tools to students and staff, to support them in their studies or work.  I became involved in the college’s Inclusive Technology project board in 2018. The board was made up of various staff members from the IT department, the disability service, student services, academics, student union and end-users. We worked with Diversity and Ability, who carefully advised us which technologies to include in our new suite of inclusive technologies. Drawing on their lived- experience and knowledge of Disabilities and neurodiversity, they proposed a range of tools to support our staff and students across all the core strategy areas of work and study, suitable for a wide range of learning styles. 

My role, as Service Line Manager (Education), was to work with the board from a logistical standpoint, to advise how the deployment of the software would work in practice and what would be viable from a logistical and technology perspective. For example, it was important for us to ensure that the software would be available on different platforms and devices, both on and off-campus. From securing the right licences to the networking of the tools, D&A accompanied us every step of the way.

Their insight into Disablement and (neuro)diversity was critical in highlighting the importance of this project, drawing the conversation away from disability, to difference. It was a really important shift we needed to make to ensure the inclusion of all our staff and students. Disclosure rates around hidden differences at Imperial are statistically lower than reflected in the general population, so we needed to be proactive in addressing and anticipating hidden needs.

This project shone a light on the actions we can make as institutions and in our own work to ensure accessibility and inclusion. The IT infrastructure facilitates learning, access to resources and information, communication and so much more. Acknowledging that people learn differently, it is our duty as an educational institution to ensure that our students have access to the tools they need to succeed. 

What started as a disability support change, with time, energy and investment brought forward a positive change for many depts in including library services and IT. Bringing inclusive values and agile assistive technologies to fruition as both staff and students bodies got to benefit. I am proud to be part of this journey. One that demonstrates our commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout the college and beyond.

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