Here at Push, we can’t celebrate our differences enough. It’s what makes us all so interesting, able to see the world in new, abstract ways to solve all sorts of problems, and to come together as strong, diverse teams.
A world full of identical people with identical thoughts is, well, not worth thinking about.
Want us to put our money where our mouth is? Head to our YouTube channel for a quick-fire rundown from Ben, one of our presenters—he talks about making the most of your individuality and quirks, and discusses how he turned his dyslexia into an award-winning strength.
But we get it. Sometimes, the world isn’t always geared up to help and support differences.
This month, The Guardian have published an article highlighting the experiences of differently abled students heading off to uni. The article looks at what moving away from home and heading into the world of higher education can be like for students with physical, mental and learning disabilities.
The article suggested that though universities and colleges are becoming ever more accessible, young people with disabilities are considerably less likely to even consider applying, and not because of their grades.
It drew attention to research suggesting this is actually because ‘disabled students are 10% more likely to have low educational expectations than their non-disabled peers with similar school performance.’
And this is a gap that needs to be filled. Universities minister Chris Skidmore has addressed the need for universities to do more to support differently abled students and applications, but it’s just the beginning.
“Inclusion is vital,” says Ross Renton, pro vice-chancellor at the University of Worcester, which was singled out by Skidmore for leading the way in its support services. “As institutions we should reflect society, we should enable people to have fulfilling lives.”
Ross Renton, the University of Worcester’s pro vice-chancellor, ‘encourages students to have a clear understanding of what support is available even before applying. At Worcester, for example, there are disability advisers so students can arrange support services and work out their needs. Charity AccessAble also maps out the sites and cities on an app, so students with disabilities can work out good, accessible routes to take around campus.’
This way, Renton says, “your disability isn’t a barrier, you’re on a level playing field with everyone else”.
So if you’re heading to uni, make sure you do your online research, visit campuses and ask lots of questions about accessibility, welfare and support programmes before making your decision.
And know that under the Disability Discrimination Act, no employer or admissions tutor can ever treat you differently or unfairly for just being who you are. They’re legally obliged to cater for your needs, to support you through applications and to view you the way they would any other applicant.
If you feel like this isn’t the case, there are people you can talk to. Try Acas – their helpline is open to anyone who needs free, impartial advice on ableist discrimination.
LUCY HARDING is the Editorial manager for Push. She is an English Literature grad and an MA Publishing student at UCL. She is passionate about international relations and cultural diversity, having worked closely with her university’s Erasmus society to support European students. She also spent a year abroad studying at California State University: Long Beach
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