Jacqueline Caskey, Wendy Spinks


Internationally, there are gaps in our understanding of the role of Disability Service Officers (DSOs) in education systems. Furthermore, there is limited research on the support that is provided by DSOs in Australian Technical and Further Education (TAFE) colleges. This study found that DSOs became autonomous advocates who cared for students with dyslexia and learning disabilities (LDs) by operating beyond the TAFE position statements to provide much-needed student support. In effect, TAFE DSOs used the discretionary practice to become Street-Level Advocates by using both autonomy and advocacy to give vital support to adult students with dyslexia and learning disabilities. Dyslexia has a significant impact on learning and affects approximately one in ten people. It is essential that educational support is provided for people with dyslexia since those with support can learn strategies to overcome barriers in education. TAFE is undergoing organisational change, which influences the role description and role of the DSOs in these colleges. This qualitative study used semi-structured, one-on-one interview questions to sample both students with dyslexia and DSOs within five TAFEs in Queensland.


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