Blog: International Day of People with Disabilities 2019

Ellen Common is a final year French and Hispanic Studies student. Having recently returned from her year abroad, here Ellen shares her experiences accessing support at the University after being diagnosed with epilepsy in her second year, as well as her thoughts on International Day of People with Disabilities.

International Day of People with Disabilities takes place on Tuesday, 3 December 2019. The day aims to promote the rights and wellbeing of people with disabilities in all spheres of society, and to increase awareness of the situation of these people in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

This year there is a focus on the empowerment of people with disabilities, whose voices are not always heard enough in the workplace and in the community. Having a disability can come with challenges in many areas of life, including university – but this doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

Speaking from personal experience, I was diagnosed with epilepsy when I was in second year of university and, after speaking to my academic adviser, headed in the direction of the support officers in my school. I was slightly apprehensive at first as I was still coming to terms with the diagnosis and I wasn’t even sure myself what kind of support I needed.

However, the lovely staff talked me through what options were available and what they thought could be helpful based on the information I had given them, as well as from their prior knowledge of dealing with similar cases. After the meeting, I felt more at ease and I now take comfort in knowing that there is framework in place to deal with a situation may it arise.

Support available at the University

At the University of Liverpool, each school has support staff who are there to help students access the support that they need. Your school office will be able to provide details about how to access this support.

Within these meetings, the support staff can help in numerous ways. Specialist teams in Student Services also provide support, including Disability Advice and Guidance who can assist with the construction of a support plan. This plan will be tailored to meet your individual needs, whether that be extra time in exams, sitting exams in a separate room or simply making tutors aware of the situation. In some cases, they will also do a risk assessment. And of course, there is always the possibility to update the support plan in line with any changes to the condition.

From my experience, I have found the University of Liverpool to be a diverse and inclusive place; nobody should be made to feel that they do not belong somewhere or that they cannot achieve something because of a disability. If you need support, do not hesitate to contact the support team in your school.

Find out more about the support available for disabled students here.