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TX: 31.10.03 – STUDENT DIARIES 3


All this week we've been hearing from three students with disabilities who've started university for the first time this autumn. They've been writing a diary of their experiences for the BBC's disability website - OUCH. Ruth Douglas is reading medicine at LeedsUniversity and has severe asthma and a rare genetic disorder called Nail Patella Syndrome. Ciaran Gilligan is at ManchesterMetropolitanUniversity studying English and creative writing, he's a wheelchair user. And Sarah Butler is studying physiotherapy at BirminghamUniversity and is visually impaired. Here are their diary entries for week 3.

Monday 6th October.
A heart warming moment with new friends as they have now worked out the big arm wave, so that I'm able to find them in crowded areas, e.g. bars and clubs. It's nice to know that people are ready to help when my usual attempts at total independence fail.

It's very difficult when I go out with my friends because occasionally you can lose each other and in the huge busy clubs in Birmingham that's just an absolute nightmare. So basically one of the ways that you can get around that is by texting each other and just text and say help, I'm lost and then you just find a big place to go and meet, like a big clear open space where they can find you. And it's fine and you don't have to worry about it at all, it's wicked.

I've started to realise that with university life and being in a wheelchair can often work to my advantage. I can recall several nights where we've been to more than a few bars and not been charged the entrance fees because when you're in a wheelchair they just, for some reason, security or whatever, just tend to let you straight through on the door without paying the fees, for some reason. Which is always good when you're a student, saving money.

Sunday 12th October.
A lad called Nick asked to look at my knees today, not quite as random as it sounds, if I also tell you he's a third year medical student and we were talking about my genetic disorder - Nail Patella Syndrome, patella meaning kneecaps. It was funny though. I prefer my friends to actually ask me about my genetic disorder because it means that when I have problems with doing things or when there's something that I really can't do they either won't ask me or they'll help me do it, instead of getting in this awkward situation where someone said: Oh Ruth will you just pour that drink for me and I then don't have to explain at length. It's a lot easier if they just ask me in the first place and they can understand and things are just a lot more relaxed and I'm a lot less worried about what their attitude's going to be towards it.

Monday October 13th.
My bed has been lowered, by the way, and I've got another grab bar in the bathroom. Now I just need to get the door converted into a sliding one and my room will be pretty much sorted.

The university have not been - they've not been too bad, they were quicker at lowering the bed but sorting out the bathroom and the grabbing bars and stuff and also a bar by the bed it did take a few weeks of badgering them. I think they're starting to get the message that adjustments need doing quickly.

Tuesday 7th October.
I met my tutor who specialises in biochemistry today. Told him about having difficulty writing for long periods because of having joint problems and it was not an issue. That's how it should be. My tutors and lecturers have all been really supportive, none of them have had any issues with me using laptops in the lecture theatres, which I know some of the old fashioned lecturers often do, and all of them have just been really reassuring and they've reassured me that if I need help in any way just to ask and they'll do what they can. I seem to get handouts in a lot of my lectures, which is really good for me because it means I don't have to make as many notes and type up as much.

Thursday 9th October.
Have begun to get extremely frustrated at the lack of facilities available to me. Due to the non-existence of computer software and CCTV equipment in the libraries I was unable to do the research required for one of my lectures. It was a little embarrassing to say the least. I felt like I was making excuses.

The lecturer was a little on the patronising side, which does really get on my nerves, I don't do patronising, it really irritates me and he was just like oh we'll forgive Sarah for today because she has extra problems. And I was just like urghh, it so annoys me, I hate it when people do that. It's like yeah okay I did have a good reason why I didn't do it but don't treat me like I'm five.

And we'll be hearing Ruth, Ciaran and Sarah's last diary entries next week.

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