My Week: Zak Sly readies Beaumont College before the new term

The technologist at Beaumont College recounts his week

Zak Sly
Zak Sly

Monday: The students arrive in a week, so I've been preparing for the start of term. Our residential students share living areas where they relax, watch television or listen to music. We use an infrared system so that students can control what's happening around them by using a touch-screen computer or flicking a switch. This means they can turn lights on or off, open or close curtains or windows and change the television channel. I'm doing last-minute checks to ensure the systems run smoothly.

Tuesday: We're having a few teething problems with the sensors on the door frames that were fitted by an external company. Some of our wheelchair users say the doors have been closing too early, so I've been with the firm to make adjustments.

Wednesday: I will be working with lots of new students this year, so I spend the day reading about them. When a student arrives at the college, they are assessed by a number of specialist staff. We check how they communicate with others and how they eat, and look at their physiotherapy regime. I work closely with these teams, adapting technology to make life easier for them.

Thursday: I've been familiarising myself with an old communication aid that is used by a student who arrives next week. It's my job to have a thorough knowledge of all communication devices available on the market - old and new. This year, we're seeing a big influx of students arriving with iPads. They're smaller and cheaper than specialist communication aids and look cooler too, but we can't adapt them much.

Friday: It's been a busy week and I'm looking forward to a quiet weekend before the students arrive. For me, the highlight of my job is seeing how confident and independent the students become after spending three years at the college. It sounds simple, but something like providing a switch that controls their bedroom light can make all the difference.

Beaumont College is a Lancaster-based specialist centre for young adults with disabilities. The college is run by the disability charity Scope.

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