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TX: 29.10.03 STUDENT DIARIES 2

PRESENTER: WINIFRED ROBINSON

ROBINSON
Now earlier this week we heard from three students with disabilities as they get to grips with starting university. It's a challenging time - moving away from home, starting lectures and of course practising the art of socialising. The students involved have been writing a diary of their experiences for the BBC disability website - OUCH. Ruth Douglas is reading medicine at Leeds University, she has severe asthma and a rare genetic disorder called Nail Patella Syndrome. Ciaran Gilligan is at Manchester Metropolitan University studying English and creative writing, he's a wheelchair user. And Sarah Butler is studying physiotherapy at Birmingham University and is visually impaired. Here are their thoughts on week two.

RUTH DOUGLAS
Wednesday 1st October.
What's happened today in the land of Ruth? Mmm let me think. Well today was the first day that I've worn clothing that doesn't hide my splints, normally I wear a tubagrip bandage, splint, then the jumper over the top but some clothes look really odd over the top of my splints and it's also nice not to have to wear the stylish off-white tubagrip all the time. So I popped the splints over the top. The first day that I had my splints on show, I should say about eight people asked me about them that day, which I thought was quite a lot. And most people assumed that I'd broken my arm or something, they kind of looked and just kind of asked what was going on, I think they were expecting some kind of exciting story about having gone skiing and fallen and broken my arm or something like that. When I told them the real reason about my genetic disorder some of them looked quite disappointed there was no exciting story.

CIARAN GILLIGAN
Wednesday October 1st.
Didn't go out last night. Something slightly odd happened. I can't be bothered to go into great detail but basically Matt, one of my PAs, and myself were going to go out to this place called the Zoo. He told a load of people that we were planning to go there and invited them along. They said they were all too skint and all tired and then promptly went anyway without telling us. And I started to wonder if it was because they found it uncomfortable to be around a disabled person. I don't know, maybe it's just coincidence.

Although that particular experience wasn't overly pleasant, there have been more than a few nights where I've gone out with people and they've been cool and I've just been talking to them as an equal, which is really what it's all about.

SARAH BUTLER
Monday 29th September.
I had my first lecture today. I was quite impressed because one of the lecturers was on the ball enough to give me copies of the sheets she was using on the overhead projector. I also had the opportunity to meet with my personal tutor.

Initially the problems with lecturers not giving handouts and stuff were basically that they weren't in large enough print or they weren't considering the fact that I couldn't see the OHP or the white board, which is a bit of a problem. But now lecturers are sort of slowly learning what my needs are and I mean that's a learning process on both sides. So I'm really pleased with how things are going, I'm getting my handouts in large print, the OHP slides are being given to me in a hard copy in front of me, which is fantastic.

RUTH DOUGLAS
Friday 3rd October.
It feels like I've spent most of today at the GP's. I've had no lectures, just some self-directed work and it's a good job because I've needed the spare time. I spent one hour and 40 minutes at the GP's surgery alone. Who would have believed it could have taken so much time to sort out a repeat prescription and a referral - that's all I really wanted. Despite all that I've been really pleased with the service I've had from Leeds medical student practice, they've been really good, the doctors have been really helpful, particularly one who actually had met someone with my syndrome before, which is really rare for me because normally people haven't seen it before and that's quite awkward because you spend the first 10 minutes explaining what it is.

CIARAN GILLIGAN
Monday October 6th.
I've had no support in any of my lectures or seminars yet. This isn't too bad right now as it's only the beginning but as things pick up speed I will need notes taking. The support people rung me up nearly a week a half ago and told me they'd be in touch to sort something out. They lied. I've also bought a dictaphone which I can use to record each lecture as well. I've only had the dictaphone about a week or so but it's good to play around with and say stupid stuff on it and waste time, as well as recording the lectures.

SARAH BUTLER
Tuesday 30th September.
I ventured into the laundry for the first time today as it was almost getting to the point of having to wear my undies inside out. Okay, it wasn't quite that bad but you get the picture. So off I wandered to the launderette, nice and close to my halls of residence and with plenty of machines, although quite pricey at 1.70 a wash. The problem with the launderettes at the university is that they like to put the instructions really high up on the walls, I don't know why they do this and they put them right behind the machines, so that basically I just have no chance of seeing them at all. So in the end I confess I did I climbed on top of a washing machine to see what the sign said on the wall behind it, which was really quite embarrassing and I found there was actually someone else in there as well as me. It's all fun and games.

ROBINSON
And we'll be hearing more from Ruth, Ciaran and Sarah later in the week.



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