My experience as a disabled student at Exeter - Part 2

December 6, 2022

By Dante Munday, Disability History Intern

As someone who became disabled after coming to University, there were several things I learned to help make my experience easier. In part one I discussed Accessibility and learning to effectively use my ILP, here I’ll be going over what I learned from interacting with my professors, using campus as a disabled student, and meeting people as a disabled student.

Talk to your professors/lecturers

I found that I benefitted from speaking to my module convenors very early on about my situation. While most of them read through my ILP, some either weren’t sent it or forgot due to timetable changes, so it helped to alert them. I also gained a lot of unexpected support this way; one of my lecturers whom I spoke to beforehand managed to spot and help ease me through a panic attack during a lecture. I also managed to ensure that my lectures and seminars were all recorded, or that I could attend lectures digitally if not in person. These weren’t a necessity in my ILP, but most were willing to still accommodate and listen.

Unfortunately, not all lecturers can be as understanding, whether intentionally or unintentionally. While my experiences with module convenors were overall positive, remember that if you are not being accommodated or are being treated differently, this isn’t normal or acceptable. You can seek help through Accessibility, student support or your college.

Learning how to use the campus as a disabled person

Most people who use any kind of mobility aid, or have limited mobility for any reason, can attest to the fact that Streatham Campus is inherently a little difficult to navigate.

For me, it was like learning about the campus all over again. When I moved into a mobility aid, suddenly the usual routes and paths became inaccessible. I had to learn new routines and new timeframes between lessons.

A lot of what I had to learn was also insider information, like the bus from St David’s accommodation that runs in the morning and evening for students (which is otherwise only disclosed to students using the accommodation), or the workers-only lift at the very bottom of campus that allows you to avoid the hills to get into the forum.

Don’t be afraid to make friends!

Something that University also helped with significantly was being able to surround myself with other disabled and neurodiverse students. Meeting people in similar situations had numerous benefits for me; it allowed me to have friendships with those who understood my boundaries and needs, it gave me a group to advocate for and with, and it helped normalise my new situation. It also gave me a place to vent with people, and it gave me insightful advice on navigating the university from students who’d been here longer.