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Disabled Student Diaries update: Lee

by Lee

20th September 2010

In the autumn of 2009, BBC Ouch! followed three disabled freshers - Charlotte, Andrea and Lee - through their first four weeks at university. Here we catch up with them one year on.

In candid videos and diaries they expressed their feelings about starting new courses, independent living and socialising.

Lee has Aspergers and Tourette syndromes and, when we first met him, he was looking forward to proving his independence. The following film was made last summer, before he started ...

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In autumn 2009, Lee moved away from his family to start his BSc course in Deaf Studies and was determined not to be daunted by the university experience. Despite knowing sign language, Lee told us back then that he'd never met a single deaf person before, something which was about to change. Here we find out how his first year went.

It has been a year since I started at Bristol University. I’ve done things I never thought I would – from selling toasties with the Christian Union to eating out with a group of deaf Czech people.

I’ve found that my Aspergers and Tourettes haven’t been a problem at university. In fact, during lectures my tics diminish and my friends aren’t fazed anyway. We all go clubbing regularly – people may wonder how I am doing that as I am autistic – but I am used to it and it’s a regular thing. We have fun dancing, or in my case signing, to the latest hits.
Lee with two friends
Since learning BSL in lectures I’ve grown more confident in my comprehension, signing and facial expressions. It has helped me to be more extrovert and emotional. Signing is contagious. My hall mates have shown an interest and even my brother is learning using his iPhone. I’m also a teacher in the Sign Society.

During the year via the University I have become more involved with the deaf community and been to a few events with them. They are a close-knit and friendly group and people I’ve met have recognised me from my BSL videos on youtube and from BBC Ouch.

Unfortunately we learned in May that the BSc in Deaf Studies will be closed down in 2013 due to financial issues and some staff are being made redundant. We’ve had protests, launched a petition, made the issue known internationally and been on the news. Thankfully, I’ll still be able to continue my studies and finish the course. I achieved a 2.1 in my first year and that means I can carry on into the second and work towards becoming an interpreter after that.
Lee wearing a beanie hat
One significant thing I have discovered this year is that I’m gay. I guess the time of realisation and acceptance differs for all LGBT people but I had this revelation and accepted myself in the same week. I joined the LGBT society and met a whole new community I hadn’t experienced before. This year has also been the first time I’ve been dating. I’ve had my ups and downs like anyone and I’ve still got a lot to learn about the crazy world of dating and love but I’m positive about the future.

Outside university, I’m still creating my BSL songs on youtube and I am going to continue teaching myself mandarin. I also want to take up drawing again.

I can safely say I don’t regret going to Bristol and I am looking forward to two more years there.

How did the other students get on?

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