Assistant University Tutor in Speech, Language and Communication
My name is Scott Stack. I have cerebral palsy and I use an eco2 device to communicate. I am currently working as an assistant lecturer for the Speech and Language Department, at the University of St Mark and St John, in Plymouth.
I initially did a 12 week placement, where I was given my own office and various roles, including teaching in lectures, having one to one tutorials, and attending meetings. I really enjoyed all the responsibilities I had, as
well as how fast my communication was progressing by having time in my office to really focus.
In May this year, I had a documentary film made about ‘a typical day at work’ for me. It demonstrated my roles and responsibilities within my job, and also had interviews from staff and students about the effect my role has had on their learning. I really enjoyed doing the film, and I love showing it to people who are intrigued about what I get up to at work, the three days that I go. I showed my film to people at the Communication Matters conference in
The students made appointments to come and see me, in my office, for a formal tutorial. This allowed them to get to know me better, and my good communication helped them to understand how I used my device to talk. I did not want my carers in the tutorials with me, because I wanted the time to talk to students, myself. I wanted to be in charge, and independent, in my own meetings.
Meetings with Lynsey:
My boss at the University of St Mark and St John is Lynsey Parrot, who is a senior lecturer in linguistics and communication sciences. At least once a week, we have a meeting together, in either mine or her office. I think I have good meetings with Lynsey. We work together as a team. She gives me the time to talk in our meetings. I feel valuable because she gives me
the time I need to talk. She values my opinions and takes on board what I have to say. We discuss what we need to do, to help the students’ learning.
I wanted my own office, because I needed quiet time to do, my own personal, important work, to develop my communication. At home, it was easy for me, and my carers, to be distracted from doing my work. By having one to one time, in my own working environment, I knew I would get more work done. I can really focus! I have a weekly planner on the wall, so I know what I am doing each day. I also have the symbols from my device that I use to communicate with, put up all over the walls, in the correct sequences. This is so I can learn
my new icons, and new sequences, much easier. I love having my own office. It is my own space, away from home. It has given me more independence, and the ability to progress, and improve, a lot quicker with my communication.
My other carers, and those I live with at Cornerways, have no idea what I do at work, unless I tell them. And I like that. If they want to know what I did at work on a particular day, they have to rely on me, telling them. When I am
in my office, I use the time to practice my new icons and new sequences. I also spend time, writing presentations and any pre-stored paragraphs I need for lectures.
I also want to add, that when I go to work, having a good appearance is hugely important. So, each time I go to work, I wear my smart trousers, a shirt, and a tie.
I feel like a valued member of staff at the University of Saint Mark and Saint John. The staff have welcomed me to their work place, and the students seem to like me teaching them. They take the time to listen to me. This includes, not just the speech and language department. But also, the canteen staff, the computer staff, the reception and, other departments, within the university.
I went to the University of Saint Mark and Saint John’s, Annual Conference, in July. It was organised, for all the staff who work at the University. When I was there, quite a number of the staff members came over to talk to me. They knew who I was, and wanted to have, a conversation with me. This made me feel good. As I now feel like, part of the lecturing team, the more time I spend here.
I have had to make really big changes, to my daily routine, and lifestyle, to accommodate my work. I get really tired after being at work all day. All I want to do is relax. But I can’t. Before I had my job, my days used to be organised around my care. Whereas, I now have to organise my care around my working day.
Also, I have had to ask my staff to become adaptable to my new work regime. I asked my key worker, Sîan, and another staff member, Coral, to be my support at my work place. Their roles have completely changed. Now, they have become more like my secretaries. Because they help me with where I need to go and the work I need to do for my job. They also, work with me in my office, helping me with my own personal work that I do for me. They have a
system where they can communicate with each other. They write in my office diary. Saying, what I do each day, and what work I need to do. They help me to arrange, my appointments and meetings. They also help me to do my weekly planner that is on my wall, so I can also, see my work schedule. Communication between my carers is vital. This is because it makes
my working day, much more structured and less stressful. I also need the rest of my staff, at Cornerways, to be reliable and on time. Without this, it can prevent me from being at work, on time. And sometimes at work at all.
Just before my 12 week placement had finished, I was offered to return to the University of Saint Mark and Saint John, in September, to keep assisting with the teaching, of speech and language therapy. I am hoping, that I will be offered a more formal contract with designated hours, and more regular pay. Just like what you all have in your jobs. This would make me feel even more like an official member of the work place. I really like working there and I
want to keep teaching students during the time they are in University as well as staying in Plymouth to teach, so I do not have to travel too far from my home. I like working, three days a week because I can still do the things, I like to do, outside of my job.
From this, I hope to inspire people, with or without disabilities, or the use of AAC. I want to encourage them, to be ambitious and help them realise it is possible. I am proof of that. I cannot imagine my life without working. I love doing it, and I love the reaction from people; from the students I teach, the other lecturers I work with, and people like you, who I share
with what I do.