A prospective student with a severe disability applied to study Chemistry.
He has extremely limited mobility and requires 24 hour personal care, as well as note-taking support and laboratory assistance. As part of his preparation for study the student visited the University the previous year, so when a conditional offer was made (6 months before the student was due to arrive) the Technical Support Manager within the School, who had already been in contact with the student, took the lead in arranging the support. One of his first actions was to contact the University’s Estates and Buildings department to discuss relevant physical alterations to the laboratories in order to ensure accessibility. This work included designing a lower bench which fits the student’s powered wheelchair and which also has space for the student’s Support Assistant.
The Technical Manager also looked at ways to develop and adapt existing lab equipment to make it accessible: for example a digital camera was attached to a microscope to allow the student to see the images more clearly. In addition, the Technical Manager took the lead in arranging adaptations across the University, inviting the student, Estates and Disability Office staff to review existing facilities, such as toilets, and consider suggestions to make them accessible for the prospective student.
Adaptations of this nature can take a great deal of time to implement, and in this case, staff in the School were acutely aware of the importance of being proactive in ensuring that the student’s chosen programme of study was accessible.
This article was published on Aug 11, 2010