I’m Georgia, I have cerebral palsy and I’ve just finished my second year at Sheffield Hallam University studying occupational therapy.

 

Living with a disability challenges most aspects of my life including my studies. I don’t mind these extra challenges, it’s part of life with a disability. Working as a team with my university, and student support we have and continue to deal with challenges in an efficient way.

“don’t be afraid to speak up because it will make life at university so much easier”

Due to my disability I have a lot of physical difficulties so I knew that I would find the course quite physically demanding and would struggle when having manual handling training. However, I didn’t have to raise this concern it was brought up by one of my lectures on induction day. My reasonable adjustments in relation to moving and handling lectures had already put into place. It was decided that I would do the manual handling on my own first to try it, and then if I couldn’t do it or felt embarrassed I didn’t have to go to the training with everyone. This solution made me feel a lot more at ease, I was very touched that they’d given this so much thought. 

“We figured out between us what I needed and amended my pre-placement learning agreement ready for my next placement.”

My lecturers were also on it when it came to placements, we started my pre-placement learning agreement from day one. Going on placement in a new environment was difficult as I didn’t know what support and adjustments I would need until I was working in that environment. However, my lecturers were very supportive of this and we regularly review my pre-placement learning agreement. For example, I undertook a placement just before Christmas 2019 and discovered some more challenges on placement that I’d never come across due the increase in expectation. My university and educator dealt with this amazingly well and arranged a meeting as soon possible to discuss my difficulties. We figured out between us what I needed and amended my pre-placement learning agreement ready for my next placement.

In addition, I have a learning contract provided by Sheffield Hallam University states my needs, and additional support that I may need. My Disabled Students Support Allowance and support plan from Student Finance England is different to my learning contract at my university but both institutions work together. It was in fact my university that requested a change with my transport on my DSA plan so instead of claiming the money I can claim back for my disabled taxis every month I now only pay a small fee and don’t have to send my receipts in. This also wouldn’t have happened without SFE and the taxi company I use being on it and I’m so thankful for all 3 of them working together because they have saved me so many hours!

Attending university with a disability is daunting but knowing your rights and the law is valuable and don’t be afraid to speak up because it will make life at university so much easier. The strongest piece of advice I would give is to build up a relationship with your lecturers and work as a team to figure your needs.

Thank you for reading,

Georgia

Useful links:

https://www.scope.org.uk/advice-and-support/disabled-students-allowances-DSAs/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwjer4BRCZARIsABK4QeUG7xPZ7SMOuVF10XNHdnO4dkKYG5ASnY_fipUas4KE32aVTPP1g78aArWKEALw_wcB

https://www.gov.uk/disabled-students-allowances-dsas

https://www.gov.uk/definition-of-disability-under-equality-act-2010

https://www.gov.uk/browse/disabilities/rights

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