What is your role and how long have you been doing it?
I have been working as an electronic notetaker with Clarion UK for nearly 3 years but I started as a non-medical helper with Clarion UK half a year before this where I was supporting students in their classes with anything they would find difficult physically. As an electronic notetaker, I sit in on lectures or tutorials and take notes for students who face barriers in taking notes. Additionally, I do some proofreading work for Clarion UK and mainly work with neurodivergent PhD students in this role.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I studied Art History at the University of East Anglia (UEA), which is where I do most of my work now, so it is nice to be working on a campus I am very familiar with. I have an eclectic background due to fluctuating physical chronic illnesses and so have studied science and the humanities at university level. This is really useful for my job, as I take notes in a wide range of lectures, and helps me to keep up with specialist terminology. I am currently studying for my second bachelor’s degree with the Open University, which has given me some experience of online learning and how virtual tutorials work. In the university holidays, I see the other side of online teaching as I teach English as a foreign language to people in Asia. I love to travel when I can, especially to Scandinavia, and in my spare time I like crafting. I recently got two kittens, so I am spending a lot of time with them at the moment.
What is it like working with your students?
I really enjoy working with my students. When I am notetaking, I have less contact with the students than in other roles, such as mentoring, but it is still important to have a good working relationship and it is nice to chat before or after a lecture and see how they are getting on. I can provide much better access to the notes if I discuss with a student how I can adapt the notes for them personally. This can involve using a font that is easier to read to making the language more accessible without taking away any of the meaning of the lecture. The thing I enjoy most is working with the same student through their studies and seeing how well they progress. I know how difficult it can be to study with a disability or health condition, so it is wonderful to see students thrive.
Why do you do what you do?
In a literal sense, I am now notetaking thanks to Clarion UK. When I was working as a non-medical helper, they let me know about an upcoming notetaking course in the region and gave me a partial grant towards the cost of the course when I would not have been able to afford it otherwise. I think university education is important and everyone should have the opportunity to access it. I enjoy working in a university environment and being a part of making sure that students with disabilities can get the most out of their university experience.
What is your motivation?
I am very passionate about equality for people with disabilities, chronic illnesses and neurodivergent conditions. University is a place where much progress has been made in this area and I want to be part of that progress. During the first two years of my degree at UEA, my chronic illnesses flared up and this was very disabling. I would have struggled to get through this early part of my degree without the support I had from various non-medical helpers. I certainly would not have got as much out of university without their help. I feel that I can understand what it is like to be in that position where you need support to access your course in an equal way to your peers but also how much of a difference this help can make when it is provided. Now that I am in a better position with my health, I can pay forward this support that I received.
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