Disabled student told he won't pass Scottish journalism course because he can't write shorthand

A student in Scotland has been told he will fail a journalism course because his disability means he cannot write shorthand, the Glasgow Evening Times has reported.

Nineteen-year-old Kyle Gunn, who has cerebral palsy, is planning to do a two-year higher national diploma in Practical Journalism after completing a Media Studies course at Glasgow’s Clyde College.

But he was told by the Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) that if he takes the diploma course he would not be awarded the qualification as a result of not being able to pass shorthand exams.

He told the Evening Times: “I already do a lot of my work electronically, so I don’t understand why there is such a big issue about this.

“I know a lot of other journalists and some have said they don’t have shorthand.

“It’s not that I am unable to learn it, this is something I cannot help. Journalism is something that I really want to do. It seems really unfair…”

Tory Member of Scottish Parliament Maurice Golden has taken up the issue with the SQA, labelling it “deeply unfair”, and has also raised it with Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

“Kyle is a bright young man who is looking to make a career for himself in journalism but he is being told that he can’t because of his disability,” Golden told the paper.

“We should be encouraging people with disabilities to pursue their dreams, not putting up barriers.”

A spokesperson for the SQA said: “SQA is responsible for developing qualifications and assessments that meet the needs and requirements of sector skills councils across the country, in this instance the National Council of the Training of Journalists (NCTJ).

“The NCTJ is responsible for setting the training standards for journalists in the UK. Following extensive consultation with the industry, the NCTJ has confirmed that shorthand is a vital skill which is demanded by employers.

“As part of the Equality Act, we allow reasonable adjustments to our qualifications for disabled candidates. However, we are unable to adjust the competency standard stipulated by the industry itself, in this case the NCTJ.”

Comments

8 thoughts on “Disabled student told he won't pass Scottish journalism course because he can't write shorthand”

  1. This is quite clearly a breach of the Disability Discrimination Act and possibly other legislation, too, although I would need to research this. I would hope the NUJ would take this up even if Kyle Gunn isn’t a member. This has far-reaching ramifications for its members, especially those with arthritis in their hands, and musculoskeletal or neurological disorders. Shorthand is invaluable, there’s no denying this, but for those who are not competent in shorthand, there is so much technology around today that is good enough, even with the deadlines of a daily newspaper environment.

  2. Just a thought: Could not the NUJ’s Disabled Members’ Council fight Kyle’s corner for him? I don’t know if he is a member but it would be worth his while contracting the union for advice.

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