Accessibility to Universal Education to All Students

♪ [opening music] ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪>>Tiece Ruffin: Hello
everyone. Good afternoon. Welcome and thank
you for being here. My name is Dr. Tiece Ruffin, I’m
the Interim Director of Africana Studies here at UNC Asheville. It is indeed an honor to
introduce our brown bag speaker today which is Mrs.
Florence Akua Mensah. I had the opportunity during my
Fulbright in 2017, 2018 to work with Mrs. Mensah at her
university, The University of Education Winneba,
in her department, the Department of
Special Education. We collaborated with research
and we even published an article together in September of 2018. So, it is indeed an honor to
welcome her here to my home institution, the University of
North Carolina Asheville, where she is our Fulbright Visiting
Scholar for five months on a professional development grant. So again, thank you all for
being here and the incomparable and wonderful Mrs.
Florence Akua Mensah. [applause]>>Florence Akua Mensah: Thanks
for that wonderful introduction. I am Florence Akua Mensah. And I am on a program curriculum
development grant for a Fulbright Africa research
scholar program for five months as I have been introduced. I would continue by saying I
thank you all for making time through your busy schedules
to come and listen and have an interaction with me. I also thank the institution
for granting me the invitation through my chair in the person
of Nancy Ruppert and all the cohorts that came together with
the consultations to make this dream of mine come through. So, I have a brief abstract that
went through the invitation that brought you all here and the
abstract is generated from this topic accessibility to the
University, Education in Ghana. Looking at a universal education
in Ghana, University of Education Winneba took the lead
to set pace for individuals with exceptionality to be
able to be educated. So that came about- that brought
about this topic accessibility to universal education in Ghana. The role of the Department of
Special Education, Universal Education, Winneba,
Ghana, West Africa. Education, as we all know, is a
fundamental resource now that without education, we are sort
of bound to be out of scope in terms of our businesses,
independent living, our way of interaction,
and our entire life. It has therefore become a
mandate for every government or state to find ways and
means of putting its citizen in educational set ups through the
ladder and for Ghana, we talk about the basic education
through the basic level, the senior secondary level
and then the tertiary level. Ghana attained its independence
1957 and from then, it has always fought and struggled to
grant access to education to its citizenry through
the various ladder. It cannot do this or no state
can achieve education for all without going through
basic policies and laws. So, on the abstract we have
bullets of certain years that Ghana went through, beginning
with its constitution in 1992. And then the
Children’s Act in 1998. And then we have the
Disability Law 2006 and it continues till now. Ghana by this September as we
are approaching, is envisaging to go all-inclusive for all
the public schools there. And then this means that
whatever it is an exceptionality you have as an individual
throughout the ladder especially the basic education level. You are granted access to
education with no limitations. This presentation will go
through this outline where we will look at where Ghana is from
the West African map, and then some outlines tertiary
institutions, and then we will look at University of Education
where I’m coming from at a glance, and then I’m a faculty
member in the faculty of Educational Studies in the
Department of Special Education. Then, there are four units
in the Department of Special Education which are, the
education of the intellectually disabled, the education of the
hearing impaired, education of the visually impaired, then
the unit for community-based rehabilitation and
disability studies. We will look at some traditional
special schools in Ghana. Because I am of the view that
though inclusion has come to stay and Ghana is ready to go
all-inclusive by September. There are still certain
conditions of exceptionalities that will not be able
to fit successfully in the mainstream school. So, there is a need to look
at certain traditional special schools, which will still
be available for degrees of exceptionality that cannot
fit in the regular mainstream. Then as a special educator and
a professional teacher, I would love to share a few tit-bits
for us all to take along whilst we leave these premises. Sure, there should be a
conclusion and I cannot complete this story without acknowledging
certain important personalities in this journey of mine. So, this is myself.
I’m married with four children. My eldest is a daughter and
she is a midwife currently on rotation. And then, the three
are triplets and they are boys. They are 9 years old. [laughter] I had my beginning education
experience in Ghana and then currently I’m a senior
lecturer in the Faculty of Educational studies in the
Department of Special Education. And I am on my PhD
program perusing Special Education currently. So as a mandate of a faculty
member in Winneba, where I am, we have three principals
that guide our practice. I’m supposed to teach,
do publications and offer community service. And then yes, life must go on,
as an individual, so I have ways and means of having some kind of
fun, socializing and these are through Rotary activities. So, I am a Rotary member
of the Winneba Rotary Club. So, this is a gallery
of my family. That is my husband and I. And then, I’m from a family of
10, we lost one so we our 9. And then the two who are
in blue there are nephews. The fair is my nephew, the
dark is my husband’s nephew. I try to maintain equity and
diversity in everything I do. So there, are my
triplets, the three boys. And then there is my sweet girl.
So, that is the family gallery. Then as I said my core mandate
is to teach the very first one. So, these are the courses I
teach in The University of Education within the
Department of Special Education. I teach Learning Disabilities,
Assessment and Special Educational Needs, and I
teach Pre-Internship which is on-campus teaching practice
because I was a professional teacher before I enrolled
as a faculty member in the department. Then I also teach Advanced
Child and Family Assessment and do some evaluations. Then my favorite, Assessment and
Remediation of Reading Problems. I do that as a hobby, it
has become part of me now. Everywhere I go that is what I
dream of because I am of the view that reading and writing
are basics to survive in the field of academia. So, I have developed this flair
to make sure I create strides in that area. Then I am the coordinator of
the unit of the intellectually disabled in my university
and then in my department. And I have carved 3 core
mandates of the roles I have to play as a coordinator. So, I am the Chief Advocate of
the unit and then I have to meet with the Head of Department
regularly and also help in suggesting appropriate
textbooks, journals, literal materials that are necessary
for the students that come in to read that course. Then remember I said I
have 3 core mandates. So, the second
one is publication. I try to do some publications
and I am glad and so proud that I was able to do a publication
with Dr. Tiece Ruffin when she was with us in the university. And, that is the evidence
we see up there. Dr. Mensah, I did one with him
because he- I worked with him in the same unit. And then I also tried to
go solo. This is critical. As a faculty member there is a
need to show you can work with people, you must also prove
that you can stand on your feet. So, these are the evidence
we see up there. And then publications are not
just supposed to be in journals because people would love to
pick stuff or literal materials from other angles. So yes, I have tried to
co-author books for a non-governmental organization
that seeks to strive and work out learning difficulties of
children in basic schools in Ghana known as ‘CLED’. So, I came up with a
writing guide for them. I have the samples here for us
to see and I have thought of signing out 2 of them
for the library to keep so you can refer to it. Then I have also done
some book chapters with certain colleagues. Yes, I must also
attend conferences. So, I try my best to carve out a
niche and fill all the gaps as necessary as it should
be as a faculty member. Then yeah, I am into
community service as well. And then, so I help ‘CLED’
Campaign for Learning Disabilities in Ghana to be a
facilitator for most of their workshops and also be an
intermediary for the Ghana Education Service in terms of
workshop facilitations with regards how teaching methods and
adaptations can be available for children with learning
difficulties. So, I find myself among some
learned bodies and then some professional guru’s in order to
be able to tap ideas, to upgrade myself because I need to survive
in the field I belong in. So, here I am a member of
International Associations and then I am also a
member of the local University Teachers Association. Then, this is a gallery of
the service that I render back home in Ghana. I do donations of books
to hospitals and then I do interventional strategies
for basic school learners. And then, I was able to also
host or co-teach with Dr. Tiece when she was on her school
abroad project and then she brought students from UNCA and
there we are, the gallery shows that. How did I
find myself here? This story I keep saying
is a dream come true. But for every dream to be
successful, there is a need for a vessel to be used. This vessel I am proud and
glad to say helped me thank Dr. Tiece Ruffin. She made this dream
come through. When she came to Ghana
before she was coming my head of department called and said I
should study this curriculum vitae and suggest which unit
such an individual will fit. When I read through her
credentials I said, “I’m going to grab her. She is going to be my dream.”
Because, I saw a lot of things in the CV that I
was interested in. And then they said, “Alright. When she comes, you take care of
her and then you make sure you work closely with her.” Then I
just did the sign of the cross and said, “God, thank you.”
And so, then she came for the 2017-18 academic year
as a Fulbright Scholar. She was teaching
amongst other activities. And so, we worked together and
we co-taught certain courses. We did a lot together. And then, I studied her
critically and found out we had so many things in common. So, when the idea came up and
then the publication came up she gave out the link and
then we placed it on our faculty website. I waited for some time and
then was tracking other faculty members realized that nobody
attempted to fill or apply for the scholarship. And then I told myself, “This
friend of mine, I’m going to do this just to make her happy.” I
said to myself I was going to apply to make her happy. Meanwhile she didn’t
even know I was applying. So, I took up a challenge
and then went through the application and then there what
I was doing, thinking to make her happy has brought
me to the states. A dream I never knew
how would ever happen. So, now I ended up making myself
happy thinking I was going to make you happy. Thanks for being
that vessel, Dr. Tiece. She couldn’t have done
this alone so she needed to collaborate with her chair and
that was in the person of Dr. Nancy Ruppert,
currently the chair of the Department of Education. The collaborated then did all
the consultations and sent me an invitation letter
and there I came. So, on the first of August I
arrived around 6:30 pm at the airport and was
picked up by my chair. What an honor that was. And, I would want to use this
opportunity to say that there are a lot of options for
these Fulbright applications. I tried to sample a few
there for us since this will be available in the library series
for people to look at later on. Try your hands at them. For U.S. scholars these
are some of them. And then for visiting scholars
like me you would realize that I fitted in the third bullet,
the Fulbright Visiting Scholar Enrichment Program because
that is where I was eligible. And then, you could contact
current affairs United States, here. And for all other
information to be able to be part of this family. So, here at UNCA these are the
activities I have gone through, outlined right from when I
was picked through a wonderful Mountain Dance and
Folklore Festival. At that festival I forgot we
were supposed to sit and enjoy, I almost stood up to dance
because the dance moves there were exactly like that of
where I come from, Winneba. They were tip-toing and the only
difference was that what they wore was the difference. But, the moves, the steps, the
shout, the songs were similar. I felt so much at home. These are the other activities
I have gone to so far. Then, that’s me happy
Florence feeling at home. UNCA, my happy
home, smiling all over. There was a bash for me there. That’s my cake by the Fulbright
caucus here at UNCA and I loved that day. I dream of that day always
and I had the honor to meet the Chancellor and the
Provost one on one. What an honor. And this is all due to the
fact that I took the step to do this application thing. And then there was a
vessel through that. So, I am here to conduct
a research on this topic. My option is not
to teach in here. I am free to be part of classes
here and do some observations and chit chat with
faculty members. But my core mandate here as a
Fulbright Scholar is to conduct this research. And these
are my objectives. I’m supposed to look at
Curriculum Adaptation for Learners in Inclusive
Education Classrooms. I chose this proposal because
I knew Ghana was going to go all-inclusive in
2019, September. And then there was a need to
find out how these learners would adapt comfortably
in the classroom. And so, looking at literal
materials available online, I found out that UNCA was
practicing diversity and equity and that they also had a teacher
education department and I thought it was the
right place to be. Find out what instructional
approaches are there, access the approaches, and then how they
guide placement, and then also to build my expertise and
to find out what assistive technology devices
are there to be used. So, it is a case study and I’m
expecting to do some interviews with some teachers and gather
some documents in terms of syllabus, how curriculum is
structured, how teaching plans are written and how pupils do
the assignments and submit them, especially with those
who have exceptionalities. How they are fitting in the
regular classroom successfully. In addition, I am a researcher,
I’m a faculty member so, I have come to gain access to
information learned from you guys here, chit chat, share
ideas, be prepared to setup new competencies. I want to go back home, Ghana
refined, groomed, equipped with enough skills to be able to
inform curriculum planning and others. I also hope to gain the skills
to be able to write and publish new stuff in terms of curriculum
adaptations for persons with exceptionalities. So,
that is Ghana in a view. And then, currently there
are 16 regions in Ghana. Ghana is bordered by Cote
d’lvoire, Togo, the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of
Guinea and Burkina Faso. I couldn’t have said this
without bringing a typical example of Guinea’s cocoa. Mind you, that is our flag. The red stands for the blood
that our four fathers shed in gaining independence. And then the yellow is our
rich gold, which I have here on my forehead. Then the green is our beautiful
vegetation, and you see there are greens all over here. So, I feel at home because I
feel like I’m already in Ghana with all the greens around. And the powerful black star
there is supposed to be a binding force for us all. It stands for the power that we
have all gained to be able to have worked together as
an independent country. Yes, what we see there-
thanks, what we see there is the cocoa fruit. And then this is a typical end
product from the cocoa fruits. So, this is a typical
Ghanaian chocolate. I’ll pass it around after
everything, and then you are free to take a bite
and have a feel of it. Then these are some few tourist
attractions and things in Ghana. So, yes, our focus, universal
access to education, what exactly it is. And then what I want us to take
note of is what I have in bold. That is the opportunity to gain
equal access to education, regardless of one’s social
class, gender, ethnicity background, and their lives. And then it also makes room
for a variety of pedagogical approaches which are able to
create equal opportunity of access to all learners. This is an educational
system of Ghana. And then, our focus is the
higher education which is the tertiary education.
The one at the peak. And these are samples of some
public universities in Ghana. So, you can see University of
Education, Winneba there and that is my focus. So,
that is my university, the University of
Education, Winneba. It was started in 1992 and
then has this mission to train competent professional teachers
for all levels of education, as well as conduct research,
disseminate knowledge and contribute to educational policy
and development in Ghana and the world at large. And so, there are four divisions
or the University and then being ruled by one vice chancellor. And so, that is my department
from the faculty of educational studies. And then this is what
we do as a department. We are supposed to teach
people and students with special educational needs in special
schools and inclusive classrooms and we are supposed to provide
services to them, assess these children to be independent
adults to be able to survive. And also, to provide
rehabilitation services for persons with disabilities. And then, to train others to
become professionals in sign language interpretation,
and braille transcribing. You need to have been an SHS
certificate holder, a teacher, a social worker, a parent, or a
person interested in working with persons with disabilities
to be able to gain admission to read special education at
their degree level in the University of Education. And then we have a sandwich
and a regular full-time program. Sandwich is when students
have no money gone on break. So, during vacation there is
still school for parents, social workers, and other persons who
have gone on vacation to be able to acquire special education-
to be able to acquire a degree in special education. So, there are four units in the
department of special education: Education of the Intellectual
Disabled, Visually Impaired, Hearing Impaired, and then
the Community-Based Rehab and Disability Studies Unit. So, the department- the units in
the department are supposed to serve students who have
come into the university with exceptionalities. In the universal education,
there are students who are deaf, totally deaf, partially deaf,
visually impaired, in all the degrees, and there are persons
with speech defects and then there are also those
with physical deformities. Everyone is welcome to the
universal education because there are these centers in there
to support them to able to learn successfully and also to equip
those in quotes, who are not exceptional to come in to learn
skills to be able to live well with the persons
with exceptionalities. So, this is the first unit
education of the intellectually disabled and then these are
some of our accommodations. That is the Center for Reading
Intervention for individuals with learning disabilities from
the basic schools and then it serves as a center for students
on campus to also come in to get professional assistance and to
seek literal advice in terms of assignments on campus. The statistics there shows
the number of participants that assists the center
from 2006 to 2018. And it’s obvious the number rose
drastically because there was a workshop continuously
for that three years. From friends of the reading
association Virginia State University, U.S., who had come
in to enforce our knowledge and equipped us with materials. Then, the Center for Hearing
and Speech Services was also established right from 1972 when
the University was not on its own, when it was a
college back then. The core mandate of the unit of
the hearing impaired was to take care of persons with a hearing
impairment and then also provide services for students
with hearing impairment. And then, as the years went by
it extended its service to the immediate community. So, that center currently
runs like a public center where persons are referred throughout
the country to come and assess ideological contexts and also
educational interventions it happens to be a practical or a
practicum center for students to go in there and have their
practical feel of how to use their technology in there
and how to also deal with individuals with
hearing impairments. These are some excerpt
[samples] from the center.>>Ruffin: And, UNCA students
this past summer had the opportunity as Mrs. Mensah said. They worked in the Reading
Resource Center, she guest lectured. She led them
in reading intervention. They worked with kids in the
community as part of their service learning in the
Study Abroad program. And, you also took us to the
Hearing and Speech Center where they actually got to use some of
the instruments and be tested to see how that was working in the
community that we resided in for 2 weeks of our 3-week
study abroad program. So, thank you for that. A phenomenal opportunity for
UNCA students to see that on the ground in Ghana.>>Mensah: Thank you. So, we have the Center for the
Hearing Impairment, section B where students are taught how
to do interpretation because we have students with hearing
impairment on campus and they are supposed to fraternize with
their collogues who are hearing. They are supposed to live with
them, equal access to education. So, students come in there
to practice how to sign, how to interpret. Currently, there is a deaf/blind
student on campus, the first of its kind in the West African
sub region to have gotten a deaf/blind student
at a tertiary level. And then, the second diagram we
have there is they are learning- these are students who can hear
regular, but they are learning how to use tactile language. They are resource students so
they must learn to be able to help the deaf/blind. And then, the 2 at slide number
3 or exhibit 3 are deaf, totally deaf students who are
being communicated to by a resource person. It will interest you to know
that our resource presence on campus are all
student volunteers. They are paid nothing,
they are just volunteers. That is how we are able to equip
them with the skills, so that when they complete education or
they get their degree, Ghana can now employ them or they post
them as resource teachers to the regular schools. Here is a deaf/blind student,
and then that is some Mphil, no- [student name]
has graduated. He’s a graduate with Mphil and
then he currently is in charge. The university has employed
him as a staff, and then he’s in charge of the Education of
the Visually Impaired Resource Center, and at the moment
is communicating with the deaf/blind student to help her
do her assignments and then write her thesis and everything. So, this is how the
work looks like at the Educational Visually
Impaired unit. Then, Community-Based
Rehabilitation Disability Studies Unit, these students
in here, they are trained to be able to survive
in the community. These are excerpts of some
schools I said are traditional in Ghana, in terms of education,
for the exceptional individuals. These schools will forever be
there because there are degrees of exceptionality and it is
not every individual with exceptionality who can survive
in the regular mainstream. So, these schools will forever
be there for the severe and acute degrees of disabilities
for also- for them to also gain access to education. Yes, there are some tit-bits
that I would love we take home after all this said and
done. Tit -bits for teaching the students with
learning difficulties. I am aware that the
audience here are from diverse backgrounds. But yes, you can still take this
home, you could be a parent, you could be a neighbor, you are a
faculty member, you are in the community, you could chance on
individual having difficulties and you are free to have shared
this knowledge with whoever is taking care of that individual. So yes, one: when you are
teaching an individual with learning disability, remember to
create a flexible atmosphere in the classroom.
It’s so open minded. Some classrooms are ridged, you
go into the classroom and you dare not smile because the
lecturer is not smiling, the lecturer is not accommodating,
the lecturer is not open. A flexible atmosphere is where,
for instance, you could use a simple, clear-cut language for
everybody in there to be able to get what you are putting across,
because after all, they came in there to gain and
share knowledge. Then the second tit-bit I would
want us to take home is: be as accommodating as possible,
letting your students know your free periods. I think I am a victim, I have
always told myself, “I don’t want to have accommodation
on campus.” And then when I’m asked, the first thing I say
is, “students will come in there bothering me, I don’t understand
this.” And you see, so this one goes for me, and then I think I
have someone here who is like me. But it doesn’t mean I
don’t open up for students. I tell them when I am free. What I do is, I try to be on
the common platform with them. We created this WhatsApp group
and then for every course I teach, I am on the
platform with them. So, by the time I am coming for
lectures, what I’m supposed to teach is already there and then
the objective to achieve for the day is also stapled there. So, we begin conversation on
the platform before I come in to teach, and then by the time
I am done, I still open up conversation on the platform
and say it is strictly for the course and no other
social activites. So, we solve individual
problems, questions, we interact, and then we share
knowledge on the platform, that is what I’m talking about
in terms of how one could also accommodate your students. Then three: encourage, create
and be part of the educational platforms in terms
of the Google docs, in terms of the Twittering. I tell my students that for me,
social media is more of a learning platform than what they
mean by social media back home. But when I come in, the first
thing I do is, if you have your phones, let me see them. I would never say put your phone
up, I have never done that. So, everybody brings his
phone out and then the next instruction is go
to this website. Then that is where you hear,
“Madam, I don’t have data I don’t have data ” I say no,
lets log on to the Wi-Fi. If we are lucky and it is strong
I do my teachings considering data from the globe, from the
web, and then I encourage them that you see, for me this is
what you should be using your phones for. And then when you get tired,
and you want to ease out tension then you go ahead and fidget
with it when school is over. Then finally, as a special
educator and a professional teacher, I target holistic
teaching anytime I am teaching. That is why after preparing this
presentation I asked myself, “this is more of abstract. What am I going to take
along to- for manipulation? How am I going to target
the sense of taste?” So, I remembered and
brought out my chocolate. “How am I going to target
the sense of hearing?” Then I was going
to play an audio. But by the time I was climbing
up there, I think I had issues with it, so I couldn’t target
the sense of hearing. But whenever your teaching,
target a multisensory approach where the learner that
can hear will benefit. Those that visualize in terms of
learning should benefit, those who learn well by having a feel
in terms of tasting, so we have to be careful with
the tastes here. You don’t taste anything,
and you must taste at the right time. That is why I said, when
we are done, we will taste. [laughter] Because when we taste, the
learning cannot go on. And then also allow
for manipulations. So, for manipulations, I have
some exhibits here from Ghana which would go
around for manipulations. And I think now, this
can also go around. You could just take a bite,
open it, and take a bite. And so, I would want to
acknowledge the United States of America, for granting me this
opportunity to be able to have come up here. They needed an institution and
UNCA came up, Dr. Tiece was there, and then my chair,
the Chancellor, the Provost, faculty, my faculty is
like my home, my family. Everybody is welcoming in the
entire university community. And then, yes, I needed to be
granted permission from home. So, the several letters, my
VC wrote, my finance officer granted me leave. So, folks, embark on this
journey. And then the Fulbright Alumni in
Ghana was of help, UNCA had the bash for me, UNCA
Fulbright, thumbs up. And then my host, Dr. Tiece
and my chair. My family have been a great
support because currently my husband is taking care
of those three boys. Hitting him here
and there. [laughs] [laughter] And then, I also took
information from the staff back home from my department. I would want them to also know I
remembered and acknowledge them. So, this is where we
draw the curtains. [applause] The floor is open for any
clarity, any questions, any additions?>>Audience member: So, I
hesitate to speak because my mouth is full of chocolate. [laughter] But, I will struggle on. I am really struck by the
hands-on learning that your students do in providing
services for the students with disabilities in the university. And I’m wondering if you find
from that- at first thought my hesitation is that the role will
be that of the helper and the helped rather than colleagues. But I also know that people
are people and many times friendships are formed from
relationships that start in unequal measures, right? Many times, faculties and
students form friendships, you know, mentors and
mentees form friendships. So, I am wondering if you see a
community being built in that way from shared participation
rather than as we tend to do in the United States, more secret
and private and don’t talk about, you know, disabilities. These are something
that we keep apart. So, just wondering
your thought on that.>>Mensah: Yes, if I got you
right, you are worried that instead of the focus of the
students being coming in to learn, is that going to develop
informal friendship that would take the focus away.>>Audience member: No I
think that would be good.>>Mensah: That’s
what you want to do.>>Audience member: Yeah.>>Mensah: You want to know.
What I have to say is, there is a coordinator that coordinates
the affairs of these students. So, there are boundaries
at the Resource Center, definitely it’s a workplace. So, there are going to be
people there in terms of checks and balances. And then if it is an outdoor
activity, there is no way that the student resource person
could go with the individual with exceptionality
without permission. There is no way. So, there’s a form of checks
and balances, coordination, regulations of the activities
of these persons. And we have grown into
this activity, you know? You keep making it
better and better. So, we started from somewhere. We’ve been doing this
for about 20 years when I joined the department by now. So, we have grown pass the issue
of ordinary friendships, which yes, some are bound
to happen naturally. Some are bound to happen in
all situations, but we make sure it’s more of academic focus
than any other thing else. So, the activities are regulated
and it is a very successful service that’s has been
going on for past 20 years.>>Audience member: Wonderful.
Thank you so much.>>Ruffin: I wondered too, that
sustainability with that because as I think about the Special Ed
Department as an academic unit basically managing an
office of Accessibility for an entire university. Where at UNC Asheville, no
academic unit or discipline manages such an office. Like Carol here, Carolyn, excuse
me, for us manages that, but it’s not in the Department of
Education that is actually doing that. So, I wonder at UEW, is that
sustainable in that not only is it a department where people
can get a degree in special education, but it’s also a place
that provides the resources that you mentioned, accommodations,
modification, for every single student in the university. So, if they’re if their doing
math education, they come through the Department
of Special Ed Center. If they’re doing physics, if
they’re doing home economics, I don’t know if
that’s sustainable. I’m just curious, what are your
ideas about the sustainability of an academic unit managing
basically an office of accessibility for an
entire university?>>Mensah: Okay, thank you. What I have to say is, we
have been having challenges, there is no natural settlement
that has no challenge. Every practice has its setbacks. So, some of our challenges
are that, yes. Other persons with
exceptionalities out of the campus have realized that
their colleagues are getting some kind of support. There are coming out
with their degrees. They are having their
post-graduate programs, and they are moving up. So, the numbers have
begun to increase. We were employing student
volunteers and so their numbers now is outweighing the
support systems available. So, what we are doing- or what
we thought of as of the time I was preparing to leave was
that we were going to open a department or create a
department for resource education to read resource
support services and itinerant services for exceptional
persons. And then the curriculum was
going to be structured to extend that, they would do a lot of
practicum on campus and then if they are doing practicum on
campus then they are going to be a force to recon with. So, that is one of ways we
want to curb the problem. Then secondly, we have also
encouraged our students who are completing school, their
degree with us to come back. That is a very good one. By the time they are about to
graduate, the unit coordinators are asked to submit names, a
list of students who were good at the unit levels, to come
back into the department to do their national service. And so, with that we are able to
also get enough hands to be able to cater for these gaps. What we do is we write
recommendation letters for such volunteers and it beefs up
the curriculum vita as they go through their academic ladder.>>Sarah Broberg: I’d like to
say- sorry, I’m intrigued by your use of technology in your
classroom and social media in particular and the WhatsApp
idea of presenting. If I understand you correctly,
presenting the topic or the theme in advance so the students
have time to kind of just roll it around in their head. So, I would imagine that
would lead to far more engaged conversations in the classroom.
Has that been your experience since you started
working with this >>Mensah: Yeah. And so,
interestingly school is about to reopen and I’m not there but
I’ve already received messages at dawn. “What are
we going to learn? What are the topics?” So, what I
did was I gave suggestions and I gave the source of the
information from the library and some websites to read. So, for me I allow group
assignments to be submitted through there. I give timelines and
they adhere to it. By 5, all assignments
are submitted. I download them into my mail at
my convenience at home and then prepare the slides for them and
send it back on to the platform. So, they read and get prepared.>>Ruffin: And Sarah, UEW and
everyone has 58,000 students with 40,000 on campus. So, imagine, I shared with
Florence, UNC Asheville is a liberal arts institution, very small, 4,500, so UEW is big
for me but I also wanted her to know when she comes here, that
she’s not at a campus with 58,000 with 40,000 on
campus, that we’re a small liberal arts school at 4,500.>>Brogerg: You won’t have any
problem with the Wi-Fi here. [laughter]>>Mensah: Yeah! So, I do a lot
and my family say, “Ah! Don’t you sleep?” and I
say, “Please so- free Wi-Fi!” [laughter]>>Mensah: So, I’m sending
assignments, I’m sending electronic materials to my
students and the faculty members. When I read them, I
just send the link and sometimes I download and sent. Yeah. Yeah.>>Mark Sidelnick: I was going
to ask; the education system then is a free public system
for students all the way up throughout high school. Is the university government
supported? Or is it tuition based?>>Mensah: Yeah, University
in Ghana, the public ones are government supported
with “GETFund”. Yeah. They are government and then
you would have to internally generate funds to support the
“GETFund” from the government. So, the University of Education
for instance runs or offers distance programs.
A lot of them. And so, we do Saturday programs,
we even offer Sunday programs. Yes. So, Saturdays, Sundays,
sandwich, and then some of the programs are also online.>>Ruffin: Additional funding
beyond the government.>>Mensah: Yes. So, those
ones generate additional->>Sidelnick: And the
services that you provide for the students with special
needs, those services are all provided at no cost
to the client, is that right?>>Mensah: They are free.>>Sidelnick: Yes, ok.>>Mensah: It’s one of the
common things of the department. To be able to provide equity and
diversity for its students and staff. So, it- for free- so I, for
instance, I am learning how to transcribe braille and then also
learning some sign language. It’s for everybody, because I
need to communicate with them. So, everyone- people come
from other departments in voluntarily to learn. To be able to fraternize with
them successfully. Yeah. Because they are not just in
there to do special education. Some have come to the university
to read home economics, physical education, science, mathematics,
but they have exceptionalities and they all take support
from the Department of Special Education. Yeah.>>Gene Hyde:
Thank you, Florence.>>Mensah: Thank you. [applause] ♪ [closing music] ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪

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