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Disabled students: improving access to university life

Published: 03/10/2013

Trailblazers report calls for more support to make all aspects of university life accessible

The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign Trailblazers today published University Challenge, a report into services for disabled students in higher education.

Commenting on the report, Chris Brill (Senior Policy Adviser for ECU) said:

‘As the report found, support for disabled students at an individual level in universities has improved greatly, with more students than ever in receipt of the Disabled Students’ Allowance, which is a critical step to supporting students to realise their potential and overcome barriers that may exist in the way higher education is delivered.

In addition to individual-level support, many universities are working very hard to make the physical and cultural/learning environment as accessible and welcoming as possible for disabled students, although anticipating adjustments does remain a challenge.

This report again emphasises how crucial the involvement of disabled people and disability organisations are in improving the accessibility of higher education. Trailblazers’ audit highlights a number of small changes that would make big improvements for students – for example making sure information is clearly signposted on websites, and reflecting the needs of disabled students in freshers week programmes.

Students’ unions, often a conduit between universities and students, could also be encouraged to consider how they involve disabled students in their democratic structures. Through this, we may see an increase in societies representing disabled students, and better involvement of disabled people in HE.’

Resources

ECU has published a number of resources to help higher education institutions to support disabled staff and students: