The Access Sussex campaign has been accepted as an official Students’ Union campaign.

The campaign was set up earlier this term by Miriam Steiner, who explained the struggles of disabled students through the Twitter account @ AccessSussex, ‘to make the problems more visible and help make a change for future students.’

Miriam said: “By becoming an official union campaign, we can mobilise the entire student body to stand up for students who have been ignored. I hope that with the expertise of the union we can pressure the university, who I’m sure don’t want to be seen as regressive in their attitude to people with disabilities. Progress has been too slow, and hopefully now we can pick up the pace.”

This issue was presented to the Students’ Union who jumped at the opportunity to help further raise awareness and is now led by Welfare Officer Rianna Gargiulo. In a statement, she explained that “the problems of accessibility are horrendously overlooked.

“Within the three months or so that students have been on campus, the sheer number of and severity of complaints that I have received from students was impossible for me to ignore as welfare officer”.

Gargiulo and Steiner hope to be able to pinpoint specific problems from focus groups of disabled students and offer simple solutions that could change how students get around on a daily basis. These problems can be easily fixed by better awareness by staff of disabled entrances and installation of clear signposting to effective disabled access points.

 

Nicole De La Mare

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The Badger

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  • Congratulations to Rianna and Miriam for getting the serious lack of accessibility to and around this university acknowledged at long last.

    All power to the Union in its campaign to get actions rather than words.

    I just looked at the section of Disabled-Go about access to the Library. I am surprised that it does not state that a key is required for the accessible WC. When I wanted to use the one near the cafe, last October, a key was required. About the Library’s cafe it states: ” Food or drinks cannot be brought to the table. There is not a lowered section at the service counter.” This (if true) does not sound as if they welcome customers in wheelchairs!

    I have not been back to campus since October (a former student) but I do wonder whether there are now Blue Badge parking bays for people like me to access the library – rather than a few bays with registration numbers of specific cars painted on them.

    I am disappointed that the old (2006?) campus map is still online, and still shows only one wheelchair icon. (By the library).

    How can anybody thinking about visiting, studying or working at the Uni work out whether they would find anywhere to park with their Blue Badge?

    The article above is encouraging, but a lot more is needed than better staff awareness, or new and clear signposting.

    Many students, staff or visitors do not have a car, with or without a Blue Badge. Many have walking sticks or crutches – or just find walking extremely painful – so how could life be made easier for these people, given the size and hillyness of the campus? Some mobility scooters might be helpful for some. Then of course, more entrance doors would need push button electric openers.

    Come on Sussex – get into the 21st century, and treat all people equally!

    Pat Hamilton (BA, 1965)