As Disability History Month comes to an end, discussions about the challenges faced by disabled students in higher education are brought to light. Sonny Fletcher, president of the Disability Student Society, highlights the pressing issues that disabled students face within the community at Kingston.
UK Disability History Month (UKDHM) takes place from the November 15 to December 16, not to be confused with Disability Awareness Month, which is held in July. The theme this year was ‘Disability, Childhood and Youth’ which centred on the experiences of young people living with disabilities.
When asked about the challenges students face, Fletcher said: “A lack of resources can be very clearly seen across most universities.
“There is a higher dropout rate among disabled students when compared to their non-disabled counterparts.”
Disability History Month not only focuses on raising awareness, empowerment and equality but it also challenges us to confront the ongoing need for change in attitudes and policies.
We must take collective action to transform the culture at Kingston and create a more inclusive environment for disabled staff and students. UKDHM serves as an opportunity to demonstrate support and allyship, not just for this month, but the entire year.
Fletcher said: “Never assume a disabled person needs your help, often disabled people have found ways to cope and stepping in without asking can be patronising to a disabled person. Never touch a disabled persons mobility aid, always ask first.
“Asking someone who uses a mobility aid what happened or any other questions regarding how they became disabled is intrusive and can be traumatic for a lot of disabled people. Finally, challenge behaviours you see in your friends that are ableist, calling physically disabled people names, or using disability related slurs is not okay, and never will be.”
Several activities were organised by the Disability Student Society at Kingston University in support of UKDHM. Bake sales were held throughout this month which raised money for the LUNA Project UK, a charity which helps young people with disabilities and long-term health conditions. There was also an art exhibition by our talented disabled student community.