T.D. Jodie Parkes
Assistive Technology Specialist, Needs Assessor and Trainer
Jodie has been an IT Professional since 1986 when computers had a ‘big red switch’ which was often turned off and on again. After seventeen years, mostly through on-the-job development and professional training courses, he became an IT Manager with experience in networking and many other areas of IT but was mostly interested in working to help people, running helpdesks and ensuring people could get the most from their IT. This naturally led him into Assistive Technology when he started working for a national UK accessibility charity in 2004 as a Consultant Assessor. The role introduced Jodie to the amazingly fulfilling world of AT by allowing him to meet diverse people who struggled with difficulties that could be solved with a little skill and understanding. He also had an opportunity to work in buildings accessibility and deliver corporate group training sessions to ‘spread the word’ about AT and how it helps not only disabled people, but everyone.
After a brief lapse from AT, taking a role in London as a Database Consultant, Jodie returned to AT and became involved with DSA (Disabled Student’s Allowances) by helping to setup AbilityNet’s first DSA Assessment Centre. This eventually led him to Contact Associates managing a team of Needs Assessors in ten Assessment Centres throughout the UK. Jodie asserts that being able to spend time working with disabled students, just starting out on their educational journey, and presenting them with AT tools to help them achieve their goals is the most rewarding and fulfilling job in the world. Eventually, the management of Assessment Centres was taking him away from the core reason he got into AT, helping people. He therefore became a freelance Needs Assessor in 2013, concentrating again on the needs of individuals and the solutions that can help them reach their potential.
Claire W. Clark
Diversity Specialist, Trainer and Needs Assessor
Claire has been a Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Professional since 1989. Since she graduated from Lancaster University, she has worked in various sectors including Higher Education, the Health Service, the Probation Service and Voluntary sectors with roles at the British Library, University of the Arts London, Greenwich University, the General Medical Council, SECSU Clinical Commissioning, London Probation Trust, the Commission for Race Equality (CRE) and Nugent Care.
Claire has been responsible for managing Assistive Technology contracts and developing high profile projects, which include Guidance to Anti Bullying for CRE, managing national accreditations and accounts with Stonewall and Athena Swan, the Two Ticks Disability Scheme, Authora women’s leadership programme and the Race Equality Charter. Claire was responsible for the successful climb of one of the organisations she worked in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index, moving up 180 places to reach the top 100 within one year. She has also developed audit and monitoring tools and systems, delivered presentations, professional training and workshops in all areas of Diversity and inclusion, including NVQ level courses. Claire has also written policy and best practice guidance, reports and strategies. She has worked as a consultant and developed Equality based conferences and seminars.
Claire’s work has always brought her into close contact with various community groups and she has been involved in establishing various networks in her many roles. She developed disability awareness training at CRE and Nugent Care, conducted an Equal Pay Audit for the British Library and was involved with Disability Art Awareness at UAL. Claire won a Student Led Teaching Award in 2016 gaining the ‘Extra Mile Award’ for her achievements in Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement at the University of Greenwich.
Supporting disabled people has always been at the core of Claire’s roles, which has included consulting on disability issues, policy and network development. She is now also a DSA Needs Assessor providing direct support for disabled students in Higher Education, bringing with her a considerable amount of experience to help Higher Education students achieve their goals through the use of Assistive Technology and Non-Medical Helper support.