Do you have a burning passion to write and report on topical events, to uncover truths and pursue stories to share with the world? Then perhaps a career in journalism is what you seek, and the Academy for Disabled Journalists could be just the course you are looking for.
Ability Today launched the Academy of Disabled Journalists (ADJ) last year in conjunction with the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ). The success of the course has seen the first graduate of the ADJ and the second year is now open for applications for aspiring disabled journalists, to begin the course on 5 May.
Grant Logan is the founder of the social enterprise Ability Today, and the force behind the creation of the Academy of Disabled Journalists. He wanted to create a course that disabled students could access fully, no matter what their requirements. The course is tailored to each individual’s specific needs, taking into account any additional time they may need to finish the qualification, meaning the course can be completed in anything between six and 24 months. This flexibility of time allows students to complete the course in a time scale that reflects their needs.
The course was originally to be run as any other typical journalism course with physical classes and tutorials taking place. However, the arrival of the pandemic last year steered the course to become a solely interactive online course, and this has opened it up to students across the UK. This is how the course will continue, ensuring as many aspiring disabled journalists can access it as possible.
Last year saw 13 disabled students embarked on the course and March 2021 saw the first student pass the NCTJ Certificate in Foundation Journalism. Victoria Scholes passed all of her assessments first time and was naturally delighted at her achievement, as she told the NCTJ: “I am really happy to have passed, it feels like a great achievement and to know I did it first time means that it can be done.
“I might be disabled, and my body may let me down but that does not mean my brain does not work. It takes a lot more than that of an average person to get where I am, and lots of hard work and I need a lot of assistance, but it shows that just because you are disabled you can still achieve things.
“Ability today have been so supportive of my needs and studying in a group of people who understood me helped me to succeed. If you too are interested in journalism and have a disability, contact Ability Today, they will give you the tools and support to achieve your goals.”
The clear success of this course has been recognised and as a result the National Lottery have granted more funding to subsidise courses and allow them to deliver the higher diploma level in journalism this year. Grant commented:
“Considering the year we have all had, I’m really proud that we got our first academy off the ground in 2020, and we now have students in Scotland, Manchester and all across the UK. We’re providing an inclusive and accessible environment for students to study with their peers, and support them with the tools they need to succeed.
“With funding from the National Lottery Community Fund we’re able to subsidise the cost of the courses, and this year we’re expanding to deliver the diploma level in journalism. COVID-19 has made working from home acceptable and possible, I want to help our community take full advantage of this and create new pathways to getting in to work.
“The next phase is to offer training in other fields so we can really capitalise on the ‘work from home’ potential that this has for us all.”
The qualification is to study for a Level 3 Certificate in Foundation Journalism (CFJ), and it is open to all disabled candidates aged 18 and over and in receipt of either DLA or PIP.
This course is an A-level equivalent qualification, providing an introduction to journalism for aspiring journalists. It may be used as a first step for candidates considering a career in journalism or by those wishing to develop their journalistic skills for a specific purpose.
It will be delivered by NCTJ-accredited teaching staff and will be a mix of webinar-based tutorials and coursework. The course will run over a six month period with an extension up to two years if required.
The structure of the online and webinar-based course includes 150 guided learning hours (which includes 40 hours of weekly webinars) and 100 hours of self-study (includes revision/assessments). You will be required to complete assignments throughout the course, that will be externally assessed at a pace dictated by each individual. In addition to the weekly lessons and webinars there will be one-to-one tutorials at the end of each module. All webinars will be filmed and made available online for anyone that misses a session. Access will be available for the period of the course.
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The ADJ is succeeding in providing disabled people the chance to study in a unique online environment, surrounded by their peers and given the support to thrive. It is a fantastic opportunity for budding journalists.
The next course begins on 5 May 2021, so if this sounds like something you could be interested in, contact the team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visit abilitytoday.com/academy-for-disabled-journalists to find out how to apply.
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