I have left-hand sided cerebral palsy, which effects multiple aspects of my life, from carrying work and laptops around campus, to managing my work load on top of the adaptations that I have made to live my life as effectively as possible. After my first few lectures at Lancaster I was worried. I was struggling, struggling to think how I was going to cope with managing my needs as a disabled student and the needs of my degree. I went to talk to my personal tutor who suggested that I went to see the disabilities officer at the law school, Dr Sara Fovargue. She advised me about the things that the Law School provides to help people in my position.
At first I was sceptical. Could these adaptations and allowances really help me with my degree? I really thought it would not help. The allowances she suggested in a way made me feel different. The one week extension for coursework? Would I feel like I could do the work or would I feel that, due to the extra time given, it meant that I couldn’t do the work - confirming that indeed a disability means that I lack the capacity to do something?
When coursework came around, and that horrid stress pressed down upon me, I found that the extension meant that I could do the work and manage my life in accordance to my needs. So, okay I was wrong in thinking that it meant that I couldn’t do something (meet a deadline) like everybody else could. Instead I just needed to adapt to the uptake in the work load and living my life independently.
The extension really helped, it just meant that in order to get the essay finished I wasn’t forfeiting the adaptations that I had made in my personal life, which believe me, without taking my time with things (which is my main adaptation), would lead to several injuries to myself (like accidents in the kitchen if I’m rushing because I’ve got something urgent that I need to do) and an awful lot of stress.
Recording lectures? Now that is a life saver! It’s such a good idea! Instead of trying to type notes out one-handed on my laptop, and stressing because I make too many errors, then end up missing what was actually said, The Law School allows its disabled students to record lectures; obviously providing that these aren’t then broadcasted on YouTube! I don’t have to stress over trying to get my notes typed in time. Instead, if I miss something, I can just start up my recorder, and my lecture is right there on tape.
There are many things that the Law school and Lancaster University has in place to help disabled students - and yes, they do help. So, if you’ve got a disability, be sure to go and meet Sara or your academic advisor, and definitely take their offer of support up as it will help you an awful lot.
To find out more about student support at Lancaster University, visit the Lancaster University Student Based Services website http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/student-based-services/