A big area that our Student with Disabilities Officer wanted to address during AUBSU's Disability Celebration Month was demystifying disabilities.
A Demystifying Disabilities Workshop was held during November 2018, with students being encouraged to submit any questions they had surrounding disabilities in the build-up to the workshop itself, which were then answered by the Students with Disabilities team. We've collated some of the best questions and answers from the workshop and included them below.
How can I tell someone that they're being able-ist?
"We recommend talking to them with kindness, honesty and assuming that they aren’t aware of the impact of their word or actions. Generally, people are open and responsive. You never know what’s going on with that person or if they’re just having a bad day so we shouldn’t always assume the worst. That being said, you don’t always have to be an advocate. You need to look after yourself so it’s completely fine to pick and choose when to educate people."
How can I make an event accessible?
"People are diverse and have a range of accessibility needs. Email or let people know through social media that you want your event to be accessible to all and that you are open to modifying your event to suit people’s needs. This will help make people feel welcome less like someone is inconveniencing you by telling you their accessibility needs."
(We've also written a handy guide to making your events more accessible - available here)
Do you like people to talk to you about your disability?
"We do! Someone taking an interest is great and we’re happy to talk about our disabilities. That being said, we recognise that not everyone does. It really depends on the individual. Though generally we advocate for asking, not staring!"
Why do you think people are reluctant to class their mental health as a disability?
"Generally, the word ‘disability’ is not used very often within the context of mental health. A lot of people would like to see it as illness that they can recover from or re-stabilize from, rather than something more permanent. There’s a spectrum between it being a temporary condition and something which the individual identifies as disability. Also, a lot of people don’t want to go to the doctor to have it on their record, as they’re afraid of the discrimination."
How often do you feel excluded?
"A lot of the time we do, but we don’t want to be ‘that’ person. Again, it does vary for everyone. Freshers’ can be quite hard, as not everyone can go out to clubs and the fortnight on a whole can be very fatiguing. Also, we’ve found that if you have to leave social events early or are unable to make it then sometimes you stop getting invited, which can be very disheartening."
STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES NETWORK
Our Students with Disabilities team are a network of students here at AUB who meet regularly to socialise, as well as discuss the issues they face as art students with disabilities. They are led by our Students with Disabilities Officers Meg and Carter, who work closely with us here at AUBSU to hold events and awareness initiatives, as well as to ensure that AUB itself is as accessible as possible to those with disabilities. If you are interested in joining the Students with Disabilities network, or simply want to find out more, then click here.