Climbing barriers repeatedly

This year at university has been great, but filled with issues and problems and barriers to my learning.

It is important to mention at this point that there have been some fabulous people, and some committed and brilliant lecturers who never fail to meet my access needs and think of me in every circumstance.
Then there are those people who don’t help at all, who for  a time could not possibly produce a large print hand out for me… until of course they were reminded by me of a little something known as The DDA (Disability Discrimination Act). After that shocker people started getting me large print handouts, and copies of power point presentations as they happen so I actually know whats going on. (finally)
That was one major issue resolved for the most part, it took 8 weeks but hey-ho sorted now.
There have however been countless issues…. one after the other in a near constant stream. Every issue is another barrier for me to battle to clime over, wonky legs and all!
Climbing over these barriers and battling to insure that people understand, is quite frankly wearing me down. 
Most of the issues I am facing could be avoided, a little extra planning could go a long way or a little organisation!
The most recent thing that has happened is the start of semester 2, it starts on Monday and I am expecting another bumpy ride at least in the beginning. The time table has completely changed, I have new staff teaching me and new rooms to find. All of this is going to throw up issues,  I am expecting that there will be glitches and I am fine with that.
To try and smooth out issues before they happen I have asked that all my new lecturers see something called a ‘faculty form’. Basically the faculty form states what ALL of my disabilities and conditions are, it states what I need in lessons and spells out the basics. 
I would much rather people know that I am disabled before I walk through the door it allows them time to plan there lesson and avoids embarrassment.
Well I emailed the people concerned as a little don’t forget to look at my faculty form, I have now received a email, that I was copied into from the faculty office with a word document that I produced at the begging of the year that concerns my visual impairment, I was at the time trying to simplify things purely relating to my VI.
Everyone always forgets my other conditions they may be marginally less significant than my Visual Impairment at this moment in time but that will not always be the case, I would rather people where prepared.
There was no mention of my bone condition (the wonky legs and hyper-mobile joints), the one that makes standing still in the same place for periods of time difficult, makes me wobble and makes stairs tricky.
There was no mention of my mental health, I may be in recovery right now but I am still receiving treatment on my way to being fully well again without medication.
I have come to the conclusion they either don’t understand what my faculty form is, or that its filed away somewhere and they can’t find it.
I don’t get it  the faculty form is the most basic and simple of things all I want is for all my lecturers to see it, surly it s not that difficult.
It may be wearing me down but I will just have to keep climbing over the barriers.
Can I also say a big thanks to all the people out there who have ever tried to remove an access barrier from any ones path, your actions make all the other barriers seem achievable and remind those of us who have to climb the barriers that there are people looking out for them.

4 thoughts on “Climbing barriers repeatedly

  1. Hi Jemma,
    Reading your post brought back memories from when I was in school, dealing with a lot of the same things that I’m sure you have had to struggle with. One thing I learned though was to not expect other people to take care of these barriers for you, even if they are supposed to do so.
    I understand that there should be someone at your university making your faculty form and distributing it to your teachers, but if they are not doing their job to your satisfaction, then you might need to just do it yourself. Of course, someone of importance should be told that these people are not giving you the assistance they are required by law to provide, but do not let their incompetence get in the way of you having a successful start to the new semester.
    Maybe you should compose your own letter to your instructors, introducing yourself as an upcoming student in their classes. That way you can tell them about everything you want them to know about yourself and your needs in exactly as much detail as you want to share. Then e-mail it to your professors as soon as possible so they have a chance to read it before you show up to their classrooms on Monday.
    I know it makes extra work for you that you really should not have to do, but sometimes in cases like this when you want something done right, you just have to do it yourself.
    Best of luck and hang in there!


  2. Trust me L^2 I am very proactive and do do most of these things myself, disability services at uni are fabulous and are really helpful it is my faculty that is less so!


  3. Yes, faculty are trained to pour the students in and out again and as a clerk who prepared things like large type font handouts and different coloured paper for those with dyslexia, I was commonly told that it was all ‘just a hoop we have to jump through’ – I didn’t feel much caring from the administration, but then, I do wonder how they view students in general; certainly not thier bosses, and the reason they are paid. They seem to act like they are sort of annoyances that must be dealt with as quickly as possible.

    Well, since a study four years ago said that the ‘old boys network’ was so entrenched it would take 2-3 GENERATIONS to get females parity within the university system, I can’t remember how long they anticipated for those with impairments.

    As for them forgetting the other things, I do think people go for the obvious so “blind girl” is a lot easier to remember and stereotype than something complicated and, well, human. So that is what they do. Sorry. I believe after a generation, when people are used to making accomodation, the questions like “Why hasn’t this been done?” will replace, “Why do I have to change anything.”


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