- Tuesday, 28 November 2023 at 10:00 pm
The United Nations-observed International Day of People with Disability is on Sunday 3 December 2023.
To support the day’s aim of increasing understanding and acceptance of people with disability, we spoke to visiting teacher Jeremy Brett about being a teacher with lived experience of disability.
Jeremy is a child of deaf adults (CODA), and his experience of disability ignited his passion for inclusive education.
‘I could sign before I learned how to speak,’ Jeremy said.
‘I’ve been advocating for deaf people all my life, so it made sense I would eventually work in some field related to access and inclusion.’
Jeremy’s role as a visiting teacher
Jeremy has worked as a visiting teacher for 7 years, supporting schools with deaf and hard of hearing students in the Hume Merri-bek and North Eastern Melbourne areas.
Visiting teachers (VTs) are specialists with expertise and experience that build the capacity of teachers to support inclusion of students with disabilities and additional needs.
‘Educating a child with hearing loss can be a complex challenge regarding the development of language, learning and social wellbeing,’ Jeremy said.
Jeremy said strategies to ensure the classroom is inclusive for students with hearing loss are universally beneficial, extending their applicability to English as an Additional Language and neurodivergent students.
'It’s a privilege to be able to make a difference,’ Jeremy added.
Jeremy’s advice to support a culture of inclusion
Jeremy said there are practical strategies schools can implement to support a safe, respectful and inclusive school environment. They include:
- meeting and speaking with people with disability first to learn what their needs are and what works best for them
- turning on automated captioning for online meetings, as well as using the camera because communication is supported by facial expressions or gestures
- minimising environmental barriers such as mobility, vision (minimising glare) and hearing requirements (providing optimal acoustics)
- for staff with disability, discussing workplace adjustments you need with your manager
- building your knowledge of disability by completing online training and accessing resources.
Jeremy said inclusion benefits everyone and encouraged people with disability to consider teaching as a career.
‘I encourage all aspiring teachers to follow their passion to be educators.’
School staff with disability and allies can join the Department of Education Enablers Network. It represents the needs, interests and concerns of staff with lived experience of disability and long-term health conditions.
The network provides a forum for staff with disability to connect and learn together in a supportive environment.
To join the network, or for more information, Victorian government school staff can email: email@example.com
Find out more
For more information, refer to:
- Disability and Reasonable Adjustments – Employees
- Disability Awareness: Essentials (staff login required)
- Disability Awareness: Workplace Adjustment (staff login required)
- eLearn (staff login required)
- Inclusive Workplaces Guide – Disability
- Privacy and Information Sharing
- Get a teaching job.
For further enquiries, contact the Workforce Diversity and Inclusion team by email: firstname.lastname@example.org