'Helping or something': perceptions of students with aphasia and tutors in further education.

Abstract

BACKGROUND Every year, 10 000 people of working age in the UK have a stroke. Although half of all cases occur in those over 75 years of age, stroke affects more than 1000 people under the age of 30 years. The effects of stroke are far reaching and many people will find that they are unable to return to their previous lives. For some, a way to improve their situation is through further or higher education. Despite the increasing opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in further education, comparatively few studies have looked at this route for people who have had strokes. This study attempts to explore these issues. AIMS This study investigated the experiences, views and expectations of two students with aphasia involved in further education, and those of their tutors. The study aimed to identify factors that acted as enablers and barriers in accessing education. METHODS & PROCEDURES Two women with aphasia who had enrolled on further education courses following their strokes and their respective tutors contributed to this study. Questionnaires and semi-structured interviews were used to collect the data. Qualitative research methods were then used to reveal issues important to the participants in the teaching and learning dyad. OUTCOMES & RESULTS Analysis of the interviews revealed that a core problem identified by all parties was access to learning support. The two underlying issues that were important for the students with aphasia were tutors' awareness of needs and problems with explaining their needs. For the tutors, awareness of the students' needs was most important. The perceptions of the students and the tutors of the educational experience were not the same. CONCLUSIONS The disparities identified in the participants' accounts suggest that both parties need to be more aware of the roles and responsibilities if individuals with disability are to have equal opportunities in further education.

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