November 6, 2020
While better than it was, the number of students going to university with disabilities does not compare to the number of students without any form of disability. Something that stands out is the lack of accessibility in accommodation and the learning environment. In 2017, over a quarter of student accommodation providers stated that less than 10 percent of accommodation was fully accessible.
Even with more accommodation and accessible university buildings being developed, the newer accommodation is more expensive. This forces people with disability needs to pay extra. As a student, this is something that is not always an option.
With this in mind, let’s consider how universities can make student lifestyle more inclusive, and some things which are being done.
People with disabilities should not be forced to pay extra due to health conditions or mobility requirements. However, it is promising to note that accommodation providers such as Scape provide wheelchair accessible student housing in London, and offer spacious studios and some fully adapted rooms to cater for disabilities. They also do not charge more for rooms adapted for students with disabilities, making the cost more manageable to cover.
If you are struggling with increased payments due to a disability, such as accommodation adaptations or extra equipment needed to aid study, speaking to the disability services at your university is a great start. There might be action you can take or additional financial support available to stop money being an issue.
If a university is based in a city such as London, accommodation and even university buildings can often be spread out across the city. When advertised, public transport is often cited as a convenient way to travel between the two. However, many tube stations are not wheelchair accessible and even buses in cities can be struggle if they do not have suitable ramp access. Travel time for people with mobility issues can be greatly increased as a result, with a risk of missing classes, or having to wake up extremely early. If you have a disability that already impacts your morning routine, this can become a stressful and tiring experience. Universities should work at ensuring there is accessible student property on or close to campus to reduce the pressure of having to navigate as much public transport.
While studying your course is a main aspect of going to university, socialising and personal development is an important part of the experience. Places in the wider public domain such as bars and restaurants may not be accessible for everyone. Universities need to offer inclusive socialising spaces so that students can enjoy their free time with friends and not feel left out. Step-free access and spatial awareness are simple ways to make both accommodation and university buildings more accessible.
If you plan to go to university, it is important to do some research first as sadly there is still work that needs to be done, and not everywhere will be totally accessible. Let’s hope that with increasing awareness and more work being done by universities to be more inclusive, enjoying a fully accessible student lifestyle will become possible.