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TX: 03.11.03 – STUDENT DIARIES 4





PRESENTER: JOHN WAITE



WAITE
Over the last few editions of You and Yours we've been hearing from three students with disabilities who all started university courses this term. They've been writing a diary of their experiences for the BBC's disability website - OUCH. Ruth Douglas is reading medicine at Leeds. Ruth 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 she is visually impaired.

So how have all three coped? Here's their final diary entry, which tells the story of their fourth week as students.

SARAH BUTLER
Wednesday 15th October.
Had my first meeting with the university disability coordinator. We were trying to arrange note takers and readers but because my lectures vary so much and my timetable changes every week it's very hard to put anything in place. The only solution we came up with was for somebody on my course to be my note taker.

I'm not really sure that I want to ask somebody to be my note taker. I think it's putting pressure on somebody, do you know what I mean, and they're thinking oh my goodness I have to do really good notes because they're for Sarah as well and I'm not really keen on that idea, I have to say and as yet I haven't actually found anyone because basically I still feel that whilst I'm making friends in a group, which I am thank goodness, I don't want to jeopardise any of that by sort of going ooh will you be my note taker?

CIARAN GILLIGAN
Wednesday October 15th.
Ended up going out last night to the Academy. Cheesy tunes interspersed thankfully with a few classics and a lot of drunk people dancing. A good time was had by all.

On that night in particular there was a girl from one of the halls across the road who was getting - chatting with, she said - went night night and then she was like - Oh let me push you back, I want to push you back to your home and stuff. So I said fair enough because I was a bit drunk and feeling lazy. And we were just chatting away, like you do, and then my chair hit a kerb, went over a bump, and she said are you alright etc. and I was like yeah, yeah it's fine and then she suddenly said - Hey, this reminds me a bit of pushing my four-year-old brother in his pram. After that the conversation just died basically.

RUTH DOUGLAS
Thursday 16th October.
Nicest bit of the day. A very special friend said today that if I wanted to I could live with her next year. She knows the problems I have, the help I might need etc., and that I might need help with cooking. You may all be wondering why on earth I am thinking about the next year already but in studentdom people start searching for houses in January ready for next year.

I'm not particularly safe in the kitchen and that means that if I ever do move out into student home, which hopefully I will do next year, then I'm going to need help with things like cooking, as I can't lift heavy pans and I can't pour. There are other little things, just like getting up on to top shelves and someone to help me with my hair and stuff in the mornings that I'm going to need them to give me a hand with because PAs aren't around all the time.

CIARAN GILLIGAN
Monday October 20th
So then I've come to the end of my first month at university, although it seems like a lot longer. It's been a wild ride without a doubt, the longest and busiest four weeks of my life thus far. The whole experience has been a huge learning curve, just in terms of well everything really - socially and also in my class and employing my own care - just basically trying to become as in control and independent about my own life as I possibly can and I think that's been the main realisation for me over the past month is that I've grown up quite a lot I think and I still am and I will be for a while.

RUTH DOUGLAS
Sunday 19th October.
Well I guess this is it, my four weeks diarying are over. It's been fun and I hope you've been amused, entertained, informed or at least it's been a good way of wasting time.

If there are any disabled students out there who'd really like to go to university then I just say really go for it. There's going to be loads of people out there who are going to say you can't do it, you can't do this, you can't do that but there are also lots of people out there who are going to say yes and they are going to help you and help you achieve the things you want to do and you just have to carry on until you can find those people.

SARAH BUTLER
Sunday 19th October.
This weekend has given me a chance to reflect on my first month at university and you know what - it was a good reflection. Before I arrived here I was so nervous but it turns out I really had nothing to worry about. Academically it's going fine and socially it's just going even better. I don't have any problems, I haven't had anyone be strange with me because I'm visually impaired, everyone's really helpful, everyone's kind of like, you know, if I just say - Oh I'm visually impaired - they're like - Okay, that's cool, anything we can do to help? And then I'm like - Oh no - and then it's fine, and it's great because I don't care and nor does anyone else, which has just made university fantastic and to be honest I just totally love it.

WAITE
Excellent. Sarah Butler and Ciaran Gilligan and Ruth Douglas. And you can read the students full diaries at www.bbc.co.uk/ouch.




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