Freshers week is some of the most fun that you will have as a disabled student. For maybe the first time in your life, you’re free! Awesome right? Time to go crazy!
But speaking from messy experience – freshers can bring set of brand new challenges as a disabled student to add to the already loaded plate of being student. But luckily for you – I’m here to share my experience and hopefully help you out a little.
Getting Around During Freshers
I’ve written a lot about transport on this site before but getting your transport right can be crucial to independence. If you are living in a city that has Uber, then I would really recommend that you use them. The Uber app has features built into to help you if you have a sensory impairment and Uber Assist is there for wheelchair users. Read more about Uber here. You can check if Uber is your city here.
If you cannot use Uber in your city – then it is going to be important for you to strike up a good relationship with the a local taxi firm. Even if you drive – you are still going to need a good taxi firm to get you home from those wild freshers nights.
The law regarding taxi’s and disabled passengers:
You cannot be charged more for being a disabled passenger.
You do not need to book a disabled accessible car (if your wheelchair can go in the boot).
If a driver is rude or makes inappropriate comments – report them to the local council.
Any driver does not have the right to refuse you if you can get in and out of the car. That is the law so be confident about your rights.
Getting Around During Freshers
During Freshers, you’re going to be going to a lot of places that you have never been before and planning those trips can be a challenge. My best advice is plan, plan and plan. I find that apps like Google Maps are useful for stopping my Cerebral Palsy quirk of going left when I should go right. Read the full blog here.
Also, if you know that you are going to a specific Freshers party, go scout the location beforehand so that you know the route.
Your Freshers Day Bag
I’m going to rewrite the Day Bag post into this one but go have a read of it. A good Day Bag can make all the difference to your independence during freshers.
In The Club
Go have a look at my post on pub crawls and The Wheelchair Lad’s Guide To Pulling. They both have loads of great tips for how to navigate pubs and clubs during your freshers. There is one thing that I want to add in though – and that is about disclosure.
I’ve heard quite a few people talk about whether or not to tell people about their impairment. My top tip here is to always disclosure – even to new people. Why? Because you might be the first disabled person that your new freshers friends have ever met. Disclosing about the subtleties of your conditions not only broadens their horizons but also helps them to help you.
Let me give you an example from my own experience. I’m partially sighted but you would never know it to look at me – I only wear glasses and it is my peripheral vision that mostly affected. This means that often when I’m in a bar – I need you to be right in my line of sight to see you. I can easily lose you, not see you or seem like I am ignoring you.
Telling my freshers friends about my sight and how it affects me is the only way that they can understand me. Always disclose.