This year our disabilities liberation officer is the absolutely lovely Emily (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The role of Disabilities Officer is to help you navigate communication between the College, wider university, Disability Resource Centre (DRC) and Exams Department to ensure that all reasonable adjustments (such as large print materials, focused reading lists, extra time or rest breaks in exams etc) are made to minimise the impact of your disability on your Cambridge experience.
You can contact Emily with any questions about support available both in college and in the wider university, if you yourself do not have a disability but want to find out how you can support friends with disabilities, and questioning whether you may have a disability or simply if you want someone to talk to!
Homerton prides itself on its variety of people, and disabilities is an area in which college always strives to be more inclusive. Whether it’s a visible, physical disability or a more discrete learning difficulty, there’s always going to be help at hand in both College and the University and having a disability should be no reason to hold you back from being the best you can be at every aspect of life in Cambridge.
Unfortunately, there’s still a stigma around the idea of having a disability, which may prevent people from finding help when they really need it. This is most prominent with conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and colour deficiency, which people don’t always consider to be disabilities serious enough to interfere with work. The reality is that sometimes they do, and if this happens there is always help available in a variety of places in the university, many of which can be completely anonymous.
What counts as a disability?
According to the Disability Resource Centre (DRC), current students with any impairment/disability or health condition include:
- Specific learning difficulties (including dyslexia and dyspraxia)
- Physical/mobility impairment (including people with upper limb/disorder/WRULD)
- Sensory impairments (e.g. hearing, visual)
- Mental health conditions (e.g. depression,anxiety disorder)
- Long-term health conditions (e.g. cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, HIV, diabetes, epilepsy)
- Asperger syndrome, autism and ADHD
However The Equality Act 2010 states that ‘any long-term impairment – mental or physical – which substantially affects your ability to carry out normal daily activities counts as a disability’. Clearly there is a very broad definition for disability and regardless of the DCR definition it is totally up to you as to whether and in what ways you choose to identify with disability or being disabled.
Uni is a large step-up from school and it is not uncommon to struggle in the beginning whilst adjusting to the increased workload. Nevertheless, if you feel that there may be an additional factor (mental or physical) impairing your work please speak with your DOS, the tutorial office or the DRC. It can be scary to contemplate that you may have a disability, but remember that this does not reduce your worth as a student – it may help you understand your own learning process better in the future! 🙂
Access in Homerton
Homerton’s grounds are almost entirely flat with paths leading all the way around the grounds linking accommodation blocks and main buildings. An official accessibility assessment was completed in 2012, resulting in few but significant changes, such as the replacement of the narrow double doors at the entrance of the Cavendish building. All accommodation blocks except D&E are fully wheelchair accessible with lifts and emergency evacuation slides on all stairwells, as well as dedicated rooms for students and guests with limited mobility. Automatic push-to-open doors are also widely used in the main administration buildings and entrances to accommodation blocks.
Plans to implement a wider use of braille on public signs around the college are under discussion for the academic year.
Public announcements in the Mary Allen Building are displayed on backlit LCD screen in large print.
Help in College
There is a whole wealth of help available if you’re feeling a bit down, struggling with work or need a more long-term solution.
Student Health Advisor
Sandy has her own office on the ground floor of West House.
For more complex matters, she may refer you to your doctor or other medical services in Cambridge, but is a great first step and can help relay any issues directly to your tutor or DoS.
Her contact details are:
Phone: ext (7) 47248
If you want to book an appointment to see her, please click here.
Your college tutor is there for your pastoral needs and can often give advice if you are struggling with work or have an issue with college accommodation or buildings by contacting the right person in college on your behalf. They can also recommend solutions to getting to lectures if you’re having difficulties.
The HUS has a Disabilities Officer, as well as two Welfare Officers. If you would like to contact them, head to the Contact page or email email@example.com. You can also phone the welfare phone between the hours 9am and 7pm during term time to talk to one of the Welfare officers. The number is 07876317717.
Help in the University
Disability Resource Centre (DRC)
If you have disclosed a disability or learning difficulty to the university, you should have been assigned an adviser at the DRC. If not, get in touch with them as soon as you can so they can allocate you one. They are an invaluable resource and can provide personal tutors, advice on staying in control of your condition, hold specialised seminars and focus groups, provide loans for specialised equipment, and provide information on grants and bursaries for disabled students. Their contact details are:
– Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
– Phone: 01223 332 301
– Address: Keynes House, 24a Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1QA
CUSU Disabled Students’ Campaign
This is a new CUSU campaign representing all disabled students and combating discrimination throughout the University. By disabled students for disabled students the DSLC is the organised voice of disabled students in Cambridge University. The Disabled Students’ Liberation Campaign exists to support and advance the interests of its members through sharing information, advocacy, organising and campaigning. They work with CUSU and the other autonomous campaigns to end discrimination against disabled people and others in Cambridge university and beyond. If you would like more information or would like to take part in any activities, visit http://www.disabled.cusu.cam.ac.uk/ and sign up to their mailing list.
SensusAccess is a new self service system which allows you to convert documents into a more accessible format.
Kelly Collinwood – Tutorial Disability Liaison Officer
Kelly can assist with adjustments in Homerton, making an Exam Arrangement application and directing you towards useful resources.
Joining appropriate FB groups can be a quick easy way to find advice, share experiences and keep up to date with events, new resources and courses available at Cambridge. Please remember these are spaces of mutual respect where students share very sensitive information so be kind to one another!
- cambridge uni dsc community – a space for resource sharing, advice seeking and general solidarity between Cambridge university students in issues relating to disability (regardless of definition by DRC)!
- DSC/SMC mental health issues support community – a collaboration between the CUSU DSC and Student Minds Cambridge.
If your disability will cause discomfort or disadvantage during exams, you are entitled to unique exam adjustments such as extra time, rest breaks, typing instead of writing, sitting exams in a separate room or in college, transport to exams. Evidence of your disability is required in order to get these adjustments (this can be a note from the GP, a specialist report, or an assessment from the Disability Resource Centre)
If you require an assessment, you can contact our Disabilities Liberation Officer (more information below), or speak to your Director of Studies, Tutor, or the GP.