Digital Badge in Autism Awareness for University Staff
Purpose of this Digital Badge
This Digital Badge will introduce you to what autism is, what it means to be autistic and how small changes in practice and approaches can significantly improve the experiences of autistic students in higher education.
Over 1 in 100 people are on the autism spectrum, meaning many of our students will be autistic. Staff awareness and understanding across all University services and departments plays an important role in recognising potential challenges for this cohort and enabling them to successfully participate in university life. This badge is suitable for staff from all areas across the University who wish to understand more about autism and how we can make UCC more ‘autism-friendly’.
The badge was developed by an autistic member of staff in conjunction with autistic students (who were consulted and paid for their time). The associated workshops will also be facilitated by at least one autistic person.
Learning Outcomes & Assessment
The learning outcomes for this digital badge are as follows:
- Outline some of the defining features of autism and different perspectives on what it means to be autistic
- Recognize the diversity of experiences of autistic students and the factors that shape their experiences
- Identify potential challenges for autistic students in the university (particularly within the context of your own role or that of your department/service)
- Reflect on the insights and understanding gained in how to adapt your own practice or contribute to your own department/service becoming more ‘autism friendly’
Upon completion of the course participants will be asked to submit a reflection in which they:
Outline at least two examples of how they could or have applied their learning to create a more autism-friendly approach either in their individual role or as part of a department/service.
There will be flexibility in the format of the finished assessment (which should be the equivalent of approximately 500 written words).
Feedback from participants
Below are some examples of feedback from staff who have already completed this badge:
"The digital badge is an excellent and comprehensive introduction for staff that assists in understanding the challenges faced by autistic students and how to help students, both those with and without ASD, adjust and flourish at university. I think that the lessons learned throughout this course are in fact incredibly useful and important outside a university context to facilitate better communication in all areas of life."
"I liked hearing directly from people with autism about their university experiences in the videos on Canvas. I thought the additional content linked provided great additional depth. I thought the course instructors were great, very clear and concise in their delivery of the content."
"This digital badge is essential for all staff to develop awareness of autism and to learn ways to make their practice more autism-friendly. The badge will help all staff understand autism and develop greater awareness of autism and the challenges autistic students face in UCC. This will ultimately lead to a more inclusive experience for students and ensure UCC is place that is inclusive of diversity."
"An accessible and informative course, which created a collegial and supportive environment in the group workshops."
Launch of the Digital Badge in Autism Awareness for University Staff
The UCC Digital Badge in Autism Awareness for University Staff was launched as part of ViT&L Week in UCC (November 2021) with the support of CIRTL (the UCC Centre for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning).
At the online launch event, Kirsten Hurley (badge facilitator and former AFUI project coordinator) gave a short overview of the development of the badge itself and how it has been designed to encourage reflection on the importance of considering ‘autism friendliness’ in all of our roles within UCC, as well as offer practical guidance on how to do this.
This quick overview was followed by a series of short talks by autistic (current or former) UCC students who gave their perspectives on the concept of an ‘autism-friendly’ university education and the university experience.
- Laura Murray spoke about the need to recognise the different experiences of autistic students
- Lisa Dalton discussing the importance of ‘autism-friendly’ group work (and how that can be facilitated)
- Rhona J. Flynn examined the framing of disability access and accommodations in the context of human rights
- Maeve Richardson highlighted the importance of autistic students getting involved in student life
You can watch recordings of some of these talks below.