Get Your Geek On! by Toni-Marie

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29th April 2021
March Topic of the Month

TMB! Lipstick! Perfume! And an Opinion!

Topic of the Month: Education

Hello Readers, my name is Toni-Marie and I have a long standing relationship with Revitalise. I have had cerebral palsy and scoliosis of the spine since birth, which means I am a full-time electric wheelchair user.

You may have read the blog I wrote at the start of the month, all about my personal experiences of education and disability. In this second blog, I have tried to share some top tips and also a mindset that I think has helped me see education with a disability in the best way.

My approach to the subject of education will be somewhat different to what you expect, I think. I am keen not to just sit here and make a list of my academic achievements – and in doing so possibly create the idea that I have somehow validated my contribution to education or society. Although I do completely understand why some people might feel the need to prove their educational worth.

I think for those with disabilities the perception that having any kind of disability means that you are incapable of achieving at the same level as your peers is a very real experience. However, I can honestly say that even from an early age I had absolutely no desire to prove myself to anyone in any way shape or form. As long as I knew in my own heart that I had given my very best to any set task then I was at peace with the outcome.

I am very much of the opinion that you can have all the academic knowledge in the world – but unless you know how to apply that knowledge to whatever it is that you wish to achieve – it is not exactly going to be effective in achieving anything.

I would never describe myself as academic, but I excelled in the subjects that I enjoyed the most I suppose. This attitude was what spurred me on to pursue a higher education that was an amazing time for me both academically, socially and in terms of my personal growth.

If you have a disability and are considering becoming a higher education student here are a few things to consider when identifying your specific educational needs.

1. Do your research. A great place to start is by using the internet.

2. Make contact with any disability support services at your chosen college/university.

3. Explain how your disability physically affects you. For example:

  • Do you suffer from fatigue that will often prevent you from handing in assignments on time?
  • How do you intend to get to each lecture? Do you need any physical assistance to get around?
  • Will you need extra time as a direct result of your physical issues? For example, additional time to actually get to lectures? Additional support to access the toilet? Help to move any equipment and or carry books?
  • Will you need an amanuensis? (Someone to accompany you to every lecture – whose job it is to take notes on your behalf).

The support that I received in higher education was:

1. An amanuensis. (Lecture Note Taker).

2. Extra time awarded via the examination board solely to ensure that I was able to complete the physical act of writing.

3. Someone to move my computer and all the necessary accessories to each lecture.

4. Where possible I received all accompanying lecture note in advance. In a format that suited me as well as an extended lending time on any materials/library books.

5. Where possible I was informed of any change of venue for lectures/meetings in advance.

 

Whether you choose to pursue higher education or not, I honestly believe that education is something that never stops for anyone. We are constantly learning – and it certainly doesn’t have to be in the traditional sense or indeed that of a traditional classroom setting.

 

Always see your ability in disability.

Thanks for reading!

Toni-Marie

Toni-Marie


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