Your first week as a disabled student is not going to make or break your university, but getting it right can help no end.
So what sort of things should you try and do in your first week?
Find Your Way Around The Campus
Campuses are confusing and in those first few weeks finding your way around can be a nightmare.
Particularly if you have either mobility or sensory issues.
If you spend some time wandering around the campus early on, then it will help. If you have support either around university or at home, ask them to come with you to the campus and just find your way around.
Sign Up For Societies
Societies and clubs are a great way for every disabled student to find people with similar interests.
Not everyone enjoys clubbing and going to bars, but nearly everyone wants to be social.
All clubs and societies will have full range of events to dip into. They’re ready made social calendars – doing what you love.
Get Into A Routine
In your first week as disabled student, you’re going to find yourself with a lot more free time than you are probably use to.
Depending on your course, you may not have that much teaching time and that can be hard to get use too.
That why it can be sooo important to build some sort of routine for yourself. Especially in the first week, you want to try and make sure you’re doing stuff every day.
It is so easy to fall into a pattern of doing very little but in the long run, this will be bad for your wellbeing.
Make Sure You Communicate
It can be easy to think that now you are out on your own, that you need to DEAL with everything yourself.
Especially in that first week, it is easy to think that you want space from those closest to you.
Keep communication going. It is not uncommon for many teething problems to crop early on and you don’t need to deal with them alone.
If You Need Advice
Disability Rights UK run a helpline for disabled students offering advices and support. Find information here.
If you want to read more from us, why not check out:
Also please consider supporting this site by buying our Disabled Student Guide
It’s that time of year again, Freshers week is upon us!
For every new student in the country, this is the moment that they have been waiting for – freedom, with you know lots of alcohol.
But for new disabled students’, Freshers like every other university tradition can be daunting.
The reasons vary from person to person, but for many disabled students, Freshers can just come too soon.
Being a disabled student can mean that you have a lot to organise before and during those first few weeks as a new student.
And even if you do plan ahead, there is no guarantee that everything will go smoothly.
So, what can you do to enjoy the experience?
Don’t Panic During Your First Freshers
Everyone feels the pressure of Freshers. It is a bit like NYE, you feel under pressure to have a good time because everyone else seems to be.
So the first thing to remember during Freshers as a disabled student is to not panic.
EVERYONE IS NOT HAVING THE GREATEST TIME EVER…
INSTAGRAM IS FAKE.
If you are encountering problems where you’re living or at university, then it is important to deal with them first.
Freshers is just one week in 3 years and you get 3 goes at it.
Find Something YOU Like
Don’t follow the crowd.
Think about what your interests are and try to find places and activities that fit your tastes.
Universities are full of all kinds of clubs and societies, and there really is something for everyone.
The Accessible Freshers
Do your research.
If you are thinking about going somewhere and you are unsure about the accessibility, ring them and ask. You can arrange for another entrance to be opened in advance and know where to go in advance.
If you require a changing places toilet, remember, there is a map with them on.
Pro Tip – if you have support inside university, chances are that the person supporting you has a pretty good insight into the area – ask them for advice.
Getting The Right Support From The Start
Freshers can be made so much harder if you don’t have the right support in place – we’ve covered organising support in our Disabled Students’ Guide.
But check out Ask Jules because they specialise in supporting physically disabled students.
Job hunting is hard.
But like so many other things in life, job hunting can be that much harder if you have some sort of disability.
We all know the stats but I think that this one is the one to focus on: there is 50% unemployment rate amongst disabled people in the UK.
Now lets also clear something up from the start, the traditional 9-5 is not going to suit a lot of people whose conditions are different from day-to-day.
That being said, for many disabled people, it is not necessarily the nature of their conditions but other things that are holding them back.
I’ve worked a number of different roles since 2012, so I thought that I would share some of what I’ve learned.
Disabled People Have A lot of Skills
The first thing to talk about before job hunting, is what skills do you have?
If you are disabled then you probably have acquired all sorts of skills that you never realised you had.
For example, if you have a Personal Assistant, then that means you have employed and managed another person. This is amazing experience that not many people will have.
Likewise, do you constantly find yourself filling out paperwork for different things, then you won’t be too bad at admin.
Many disabled people often think that they lacks skills and experience, but skills and experience can be gained in a variety of ways.
Think about what you are good at and why.
Flexible Working and Following Your Passions
Flexible working is a now an accessible way to build your confidence. Taking on small projects can be a great way for you to build a portfolio. Working in this way can mean that you work when YOU feel able to.
It is also the case that if you want to develop your skills in certain areas such as coding or graphic design, freelance work is great way to build your experience.
Should You Volunteer?
Volunteering is a great way to build experience and further skills.
That is obvious though right?
The other thing about volunteering is that it can give you much needed confidence.
For many disabled people, the prospect of working can be very scary for a number of reasons.
- Your condition being different from day-to-day.
- Employer bias.
- Being asked to do things that you are uncomfortable.
Volunteering can put all those questions to bed by giving you the direct experience that these questions can overcome.
Do You Disclose Your Disability?
Most people see having a disability as having some sort of weakness, and in many respects it can be, but living with a disability can also endow you with many useful qualities.
Qualities such as
You can through your cover letter and interview demonstrate why your disability has helped you become the ideal person for the job.
What Help Can You Get?
Access To Work (A2W) is a government backed scheme to help disabled people into work. It can provide you with in work support, specialist equipment and access to transport.
A2W is relatively easy to apply for and can help you in all sorts of unusual ways.
For example, A2W could contribute toward the cost of a wheelchair. They could pay for someone to support you at work.
Although you may think that A2W is just going to create more paper work for you, it is a relatively straightforward process with not so much monitoring involved.