Guest post: It’s Not “The Taxpayer’s” Money – It Belongs to the Public
So, back in January, I attended the Westminster Higher Education Forum on disabled students with two people from the Getting Things Changed project I am a part of.
Following the event, delegates are invited to submit an article to the briefing document for the event, and I submitted a text about role models in academia.
My friend Lilit focussed on responding to a talk by Paul Williams (Deputy Director, Student Funding Policy, Department for Education), and she's allowed me to publish her text here, which you can find below.
Oh is it #timetotalk? But that's already all I do.
"Conversations change lives." - at least that's what the promotional poster says.
You know what's changing my life for the worst at the moment?
Conversations with mental health professionals. - and that's what I'm about to focus on, so if you're a lovely friend or acquaintance who has reached out to me? Go you, I love you and you matter and you helped.
As many others have pointed out (and, frankly, I do not have the headspace to read all the great things folks have already pointed out, so I know I will be echoing a lot that's already being said), the problem really isn't about us talking.
It's all so easy to say "just reach out". But when you reach out and nothing happens, it's hard to keep going. I'm not going to give details of all the times I reached out and it led nowhere. It feels highly ironic that I am at a time in my life when I have reached out, and talked, the most. Yet I am in the worst place I have ever been. Because the professionals I am under the care of do not listen. Because when you say you want to die and a professional's reaction is to call a friend of yours and ask about your "self-reported suicidal thoughts" in an accusatory way (because what could suicidal thoughts be but self-reported?), it's hard to feel supported. Because when you have a disability on top of your mental illnesses and they refuse to accommodate your disability, it's hard to feel supported.
How can I be who I don't see?
On the 26th of January, I attended the Westminster Higher Education Forum on disabled students with two people from the Getting Things Changed project I am a part of.
Following the event, delegates are invited to submit an article to the briefing document for the event. Below is my submission:
In this commentary, I would like to continue reflections which started in the sessions which were focussed on disabled students’ participation and inclusion.
Key aspects about offering equal opportunities in learning were explored with regards to providing support for students. This included promoting inclusive universal design, which benefits all students. Beyond that, the importance of having access to all aspects of the university life was highlighted – indeed disabled students can be at a disadvantage in their social life as well as academically.
Buying Hamilton tickets when you are disabled, but not a wheelchair user
As all Hamilton fans, I was very excited on Monday to be attempting to get tickets for a show, as I had signed up for the presale back in October. In this post, I would like to both discuss what the process of purchasing tickets was like as a disabled person who is entitled to a carer ticket but is not a wheelchair user, so that it may help other people (click here to skip to the end of my explanations to know how to actually order a ticket) but also make potentially useful suggestions to improve this process, which was, in six words: a bit pants and quite hard.
*Note about my situation: I have an Access Card. In order to get the card, I had to send proof of my disability, and particular needs were identified via this evidence - including the need for a carer ticket. The card is not compulsory to get adjustments from venues, but it makes things easier when a particular venue accepts it, as they can take your card number and see that you are indeed entitled to what you are asking for.*
Language and Disability: who cares? (I do)
For a few months now I have been involved with History of Place, a national project looking at different disability-related places around the country. In Bristol, we are looking at the Guild of the Brave Poor Things, and this summer a group of young people made a short film about it. It was launched yesterday at the MShed, and as Disability History Month this year is about disability and language, the event featured some thoughts about the topic.
Another volunteer, as well as a young person who participated in the short film had written their own thoughts, and I was tasked with responding to them in some way. Laura Welti, from Bristol Disability & Equality Forum then talked about the topic as well.
Making conferences more accessible
Now that I have attended several conferences, I feel that I want to share some information I've been thinking about as to how to make conferences/events more accessible to academics who are neurodivergent. I imagine some of my ideas will be useful to others as well, and I think overall any conference/event could benefit from them. I will also add here and there some things I've thought of in terms of general accessibility but this is not my main focus here and there's people much more qualified than me talking about this already.
My friend Naomi Jacobs for example is writing about neuroqueering academia and will touch upon accessibility in several ways.