I’m very thankful to be at a university where the staff and students have shown me nothing but support when I need it. This isn’t always the case for students, especially those with disabilities and so I want to make the most of my time here.
There are many things I want to do as a student at Coventry University, some are typical for all students. Study abroad, take interesting modules, and join societies. But others are specifically related to my disability and my desire to improve things for all disabled students on campus.
I thought I’d make a list of a few of the things I am going to encourage the university to do during my time here.
- Implement an accessible timetabling system. Currently the timetable is not fully screen reader accessible. I’m also concerned that it may be difficult for other students with print disabilities to access. Ideally we would have a system where students could export their timetable to Google calendar or another platform.
- Change the room and appointment booking system. At the moment the calendar contains many unlabelled buttons. Although with a bit of luck and plenty of time you may be able to book the appointment you want it is very hit and miss. All students should have equal access to these systems.
- Encourage newsletters to be sent out as text, rather than images. I received an email from a university department advertising an opportunity for all students; however the message only contained an image. I am lucky to have the finances and a supportive family who have enabled me to purchase software that can extract the text from these images. Even so, it is time consuming and many visually impaired students will not have access to this technology. Students who have other print disabilities such as dyslexia may also struggle with information presented in this format as they cannot alter the colour contrast.
- Request that information presented in the hub, such as event posters and leaflets are also sent via email. I am unable to see when something is being advertised and so I miss out on a lot of events on campus such as careers fairs. If a weekly or monthly digest of campus events could be sent out it would benefit all students.
These changes may sound small; however their impact could potentially be huge. Coventry University is climbing in the league tables and I want to see that reflected in their provision for disabled students. The health and wellbeing department have been absolutely amazing, I am so incredibly grateful for all the support they are showing me. They actively encourage me to share how inaccessibility affects me personally and allow me to offer suggestions as to how things can improve.
I also want to thank the students union for implementing accessible captchas on their website after I flagged it up as an issue. The commitment everyone is showing to improving the university experience for disabled students is so very much appreciated. Let’s keep it going!