One amazing skill we disabled people often acquire due to the lack of accessibility imposed on us is the ability to plan, plan and plan! Because of having muscular dystrophy this was definitely the case with me when it came to deciding which university would be best for my needs. By the time I’d made my choices I could quite confidently call myself a professional university open day attendee (if that’s a thing). From Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Birmingham and London, there I was, an eager A-Level student examining every aspect of student life. Eventually, I had a pretty clear picture of where I felt most comfortable, and I ended up at Brunel University studying psychology from 2010 – 2013.

“The disability service  at Brunel made contact with me to introduce themselves and provided me with all the information I needed in terms of applying for the Disabled Students’ Allowance, and the support I could get from their service.”

Photo of Elvy Karanja

Brunel’s appeal was that it was a campus university. It was very flat, no steep hills, or cobbled pavements, with modern adapted accommodation and lecture halls that were literally across the road. Not only that, but there were also great amenities within campus, from two-night clubs, food halls, supermarket, weekly fresh fruit and veg markets, take away shops (this is essential after a boozy night out) and even a bank. It was like its own village within a village – all wheelchair accessible.

The disability service at Brunel made contact with me to introduce themselves and provided me with all the information I needed in terms of applying for the Disabled Students’ Allowance, and the support I could get from their service. They mentioned a mentoring programme and asked if I would like to be mentored by a current disabled student. My mentor, a fellow wheelchair user was great and passed on all the tips I needed for settling into student life. Before moving in, I was allocated an adapted room and told that I was entitled to one on campus throughout my three years. It was great not having to worry about finding accessible housing. It also had an adapted kitchen and gave me no excuses for not cooking. I was allocated a disabled parking space which came in handy when I started using a Motability WAV in my second year.

“The disability service  at Brunel made contact with me to introduce themselves and provided me with all the information I needed in terms of applying for the Disabled Students’ Allowance, and the support I could get from their service.”

One thing that really stood out was seeing many other wheelchair users on campus, it was unusual even for me, to not be the only wheelchair user around. I think this goes to show Brunel’s appeal and the effort they put into being inclusive. My university experience could not have been more positive, whenever I had access needs, the disability service was available and ready to help. Brunel really gave me the space to just be a typical student and not have the burden of fighting for access to an equal university experience. This also gave me the confidence to live on my own after university and goes to show the impact this had on my confidence as a disabled person.

By Elvy Karanja

Here is the link to my Blog page all about accessible travel and living.

https://elvysblog.com/

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