DITO – Disability Information Training Opportunity
*To encourage students to undertake voluntary work with community groups
*To enable students to experience working as an artist with special needs groups
*To form long term relationship with DITO groups to enable future artists residencies, workshop experience and possible training for students in working with specific groups.
*To place students in a role where they can be ambassadors for the University encouraging lifelong learning.
DITO offers training to residents of Tower Hamlets who fall in to the category of ‘disabled’; for DITO this is defined in the sense of a social model and covers the widest range of impairment catagories. As such DITO also plays a role empowering users to participate and contribute to how the project is run, also helping to define the services they offer.
As part of the 2004 programme (which already consisted of course in disability advocacy and IT courses designed for visually and aurally impaired groups as well a Gyspy Rights Project), DITO hosted a ‘Disability Event’ for 250 people based at their resource unit.
Initially students were asked to help plan this event, consulting various groups and clubs to ascertain suitable activities and book appropriate spaces and facilities. Students were encouraged to take a central role in this, setting up creative workshops. With the advocacy role DITO takes, students were encouraged workshop participants to create a work that were shown in the Campaigning exhibition (Dec. 03 Unit 2 – see ’Campaigning’ post). Students were also asked to document the event.
Long term plans for this project included students observing and assisting on the DITO courses to give them a stronger understanding of sensory impairment. This were envisaged as a crucial step in educating students who wished to offer workshops to special needs groups in terms of how to devise activities suitable for specific disabilities and facilitating users projects.
This project also offered opportunities to the University as a research study in how we could develop a stronger inclusive policy for future students.