Before starting his presentation, the Bachelor of Business (Business Information Systems) graduate asked the audience to take a moment and think about what disability meant to them.
“A common perception is that disability is something visible such as visual impairment, deaf, mute or any kind of physical disability,” Tu said. “A lot of disabilities are not visible and are not even known to people [who have them].”
Tu quoted a definition from the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) which states that “persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”
Major issues and barriers still exist for people with a disability and learning difficulties around the world, including in Vietnam. It is estimated that four per cent of learners in Vietnam are visually impaired and that 20 per cent of the population experience some form of language-based learning difficulty.
During his time at RMIT University, starting as an English student in 2011 and going on to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in 2017, Tu volunteered to participate in various support and learning strategy trials with varying degrees of success.
“The biggest challenge I had was to get fully involved in class activities and understand the teaching materials,” Tu said. “However, being aware of the circumstances, I had set out to design my own learning strategies and helped many lecturers and staff members learn how to support students like me properly.”
The initial work Tu did with the Learning Skills Unit helped to lay the groundwork for establishing the Disability Resource Centre, which is now known as the ELS. Since its inception, the service has worked with more than 500 students, many of whom have graduated with remarkable results.
Tu shared that one of the ELS’s key drivers has been student engagement and involvement in implementing its main activities.