Having cerebral palsy has not stopped Leeds Trinity student Chloe Tear from making the most of going to university, even if her experience is not a typical one. In a blog first published on The Times Higher Education she writes about her experience.
Going to university should not be limited because you have a disability, and I would like to believe that this is the case for everyone. Many factors need to be taken into account when choosing which university to study at. It is always worth considering every aspect of university life, such as campus size, commute and timetabling, and not allowing your disability to be the only deciding factor.
I have mild cerebral palsy as well as being registered as partially sighted. This is due to being born eight weeks premature. These conditions have not stopped me from attending university, but they have made my university experience a little different. Cerebral palsy affects movement, balance and coordination, meaning that everyday activities can be slightly more challenging.
I felt that Leed Trinity University would be the perfect setting for me. I could study psychology and child development, while living on campus. The university has a fairly small campus, which means that I have been able to get around easily. Similarly, during my first year I stayed in halls, which meant that classes were even more accessible.
However, in my second year I moved into a house with some friends. Because of my mobility needs I had to find a house that had a bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor, as well as a bedroom that was big enough to accommodate my equipment. Although living in a shared house has made my commute to university a little harder, it has allowed me to socialise more, which is also important.
I personally do not have enough energy to go out clubbing. It would cause too much pain and it would take too much time for me to physically recover.
However, this does not mean that I don't like going out with my friends. I’m always up for a few drinks or going out for a coffee. It doesn't mean that I am unable to attend social events as I do like a good dance! Finding friends who understand my limits has allowed me to enjoy the social aspects of university, at a pace that suits me.
The support at my university has also been great. I am able to get lecture notes sent to me beforehand and all handouts have been enlarged so that I can get the most out of lectures.
Little things like this make a huge difference to how much I can access. My lecturers are also aware of my needs and are all very helpful. I know some people do not like to disclose their disability to their lecturers and that is their choice. However, the support that they have to offer can make your degree run a bit more smoothly.
Yes, having a disability has altered my university experience – but it certainly has not hindered it.
Read Chloe's blog on the The Times Higher Education here.