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Top tips for disabled students starting university

By Peter Kerr

Wednesday 14 September 2011 Making Friends/Settling In

I have what is called, an 'invisible' disability, no this does not mean I channel Griffin from the HG Wells classic and have a predisposition to turn see-through. What it means is that on the outside I can look perfectly normal but when I stand up, I have a tendency to pass out. I am now starting my sixth year at university, so if you are in a similar situation or have any kind of disability, here are a couple of things I wish someone told me all those years ago.

1. Don't be afraid to ask for help

You are not given a special badge to wear saying ‘THIS PERSON IS DISABLED’ or forced to prove yourself. Your university wants to help you get the best grade you can possibly get. They even hire people whose job it is to help you talk through what your disability stops you doing at university, and have budgets to help you out. All you have to lose is half an hour or so, and have everything to gain.

2. Support

It might be easy to think they will write a cheque and leave you to face the world on your own, but that is not the case. It is called disability support, if you need someone to write notes for you then your university can most likely help. If you need a little extra time in exams so that you can use the toilet when you need to, they will be willing accommodate you. There is a whole myriad of ways that you can get help, that you may have not have even considered yet.

3. Don't let it stop you doing things

One of the most dangerous things you can start saying to yourself is that you are not 'well enough' to do things. Often, there are things that can be done to lessen the impact travel can have on you, or any club you want to join, will be perfectly willing to accommodate you. Rather than ask 'am I well enough?' Ask, ‘what can I do to make things easier?’

But most importantly, it is essential you know that you have just as much right as anyone else to do things, and be on an equal footing to them. This is exactly why disability support exists and you should not have to make yourself worse, just to keep up with other people.