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!