Hello and welcome to the first blog post of The Rachel Diaries!
Today I’m going to talk about disability and education which are in effect oil and water. My mum tells me I can do anything I set my mind too and then I have teachers saying ‘no you can’t because of your disability.’ I have encountered this three times in my life, the first time being when my parents fought for me to be in mainstream education. Don’t get me wrong 80% of my education was great and the teachers were really encouraging. I joined in every after school club I could including school productions where my music department made a ramp so that I could perform on stage.
But then there’s the 20%. I once had a drama teacher tell me whilst studying A levels that she couldn’t see the point in me doing the course because of my ‘limitations and that you won’t receive high marks’. For someone who dreams of being on stage that was a devastating blow and that triggered my depression, I felt lost and had no idea what I was going to do with my life. At school I also was restricted to using the bathroom twice a day because of staff who were trained were cut. I also wasn’t allowed off campus because it was deemed ‘unsafe’ I couldn’t go above ground during break or lunch due to evacuation issues and this one support worker decided she didn’t like that I was so vocal and was told to ‘stop whining’ and that I was too independent! So I left in 2015, I felt I was like a cigarette butt being constantly grinding on the pavement. I even had to campaign for better wheelchair access when I was fifteen in my own school!
The second time would be at university where I was told by someone who barely knew me that I had ‘unrealistic expectations of my abilities’ and in the end they put so many barriers in place and lectures going above me straight to the disabilities office instead of speaking to me first, I had to leave. It annoyed me that I was infantilised that I felt I couldn’t breath without being watched to see if I’d fuck up. It was over silly things like, not having a button by your bed so you can open your bedroom door and leave your housemates in once you were in bed, the note taker shouldn’t be picking up pens for me, students couldn’t hold doors open for me, the fact that my chair didn’t fit under the lecture tables or I was tired in lectures and carried too many bags. Just utterly stupid and isolating.
Why isn’t there a perspective of a disabled university student when you apply? It should only be fair.
Why aren’t disabled people being seen as intellectual individuals? I hope by me speaking out about this helps someone in the future and improve the education situation.
So because of all this I now have to start an online degree and also look for a job and my own home just so I can be seen as an individual adult.
Please feel free to get in touch if you had similar experiences I’d like to see whether this is just one isolated incident or, a common problem.