From struggling student to AT advocate: how Glean shaped my academic career and journey

Ewan Richards, Assistive Technology Trainer from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, discusses the struggles he faced as a student and why independence is being championed by him and his disability department on campus.

Clock 2 min read Calendar Published: 12 Mar 2024
Author Jacob Goodwin
From struggling student to AT advocate: how Glean shaped my academic career and journey


During Ewan’s time in college, he relied heavily on traditional study skills but found that he was not fully in control of his learning.

He needed a solution that promoted independence. That’s when he discovered Glean.

Since then he has not looked back, completing his BSC in Applied Computing at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, where his Glean journey has now gone full circle.

After graduating, he returned to the institution to work as an AT trainer, allowing him to introduce Glean to a whole new generation of students.

Ewan recently joined us for a webinar in which he discussed the struggles he faced and why independence is being championed by him and his disability department on campus.

Here’s what he had to say…

Developing essential study skills

Like many undergraduates, Ewan struggled to develop the study skills needed to succeed at university. Skills like:

  • Academic writing and presentation skills
  • Combating plagiarism
  • Exam revision techniques
  • Planning and organising
  • Referencing and research
  • Building confidence and communication skills

But having been introduced to Glean by the disability services office, everything changed.

Being able to learn whenever, wherever allowed him to improve the core study skills needed to succeed, building confidence in a new environment and ensuring he had the tools to fulfil his assignments, whether they be written essays, in person presentations or final exams.

Delivering specialist support

As well as providing AT, Ewan acknowledged the importance of the other forms of support he received whilst studying. These included:

  • Specialist tutors: as part of his accommodation provision, Ewan received one-on-one guidance to further enhance his study skills and to address the specific challenges of his course.
  • Mentorship programs: the university created opportunities to connect with experienced mentors for personalised support and advice.
  • Deadline management: it’s one thing to complete the work and another thing entirely to do so within set timeframes. Ewan was able to learn techniques to stay on top of his workload.
  • Assistive technology training: tailored sessions to ensure he could master tools like Glean to enhance his learning experience.
  • Wellbeing and emotional support: access to resources to help manage stress and maintain mental well-being.
  • Careers and financial support: looking beyond the confines of his degree, Ewan was able to access assistance for future employment opportunities as well as help budgeting for his studies.

Supporting students with note taking accommodations

Traditional note-taking methods might not work for everyone. That's why Ewan ensures provision for his students goes beyond simply providing notes.

By encouraging the use of visual aids like mind maps and diagrams to enhance understanding, students can also choose between electronic note-taking tools and more traditional handwritten methods.

Using Glean specifically, Ewan uses his experience with the software to ensure seamless integration with any slide decks provided by instructors as well as tailoring training sessions to a variety of learning styles across his cohort.

Promote Universal Design for Learning (UDL) across campus

Last but certainly not least, Ewan discussed the importance of promoting Universal Design for Learning (UDL) across the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David.

By removing jargon where possible, increasing clarity in communication and ensuring maximum accessibility, the disability services department are making positive changes to guarantee all students can benefit from a more accessibility focussed approach.



To learn more about the topic, click the button below to rewatch the session in full.

Rewatch the webinar in full here
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