Criticism of Sussex University accessibility is unfair
As a physically disabled student, I read with some laughter your article on the question of access to campus, mainly because it was factually inaccurate and completely misses the point.
Let’s start with some basic factual inaccuracies. In the article it was maintained that it took the author half an hour to get from library square to the accessible entrance to the library.
This simply cannot be possible, for as a person who does this trip regularly, it takes ten to twelve minutes in an electric wheelchair, depending on how busy it is.
Secondly and perhaps the most problematic is the way the article was written. In deploying the term ‘ableism’ the author presupposes that part of the problem is the attitude towards disabled students by the campus management.
This isn’t true, by and large the Sussex community is one of the most welcoming environments I’ve been to, where people are accommodating.
Of course, there is a physical geographic problem with the campus, the fact that its built in a valley, but this does not translate into some sort of cultural attitude within Sussex.
The idea that the management do not care about this issue is far fetched. For instance, I was recently in a meeting between an un-named member of the Access Campaign and two senior members of the HAHP faculty where the discussion was generally sympathetic and cordial.
Before I go, I also want to make a general comment on the way that this article was constructed; the tone of the article suggests that no progress on this issue has been made. I have been here four years and on day one I realised access was a problem.
The fact that the Badger is running an article on this issue on the subject of physical accessibility, is in itself progress. It is my understanding that in writing this article, the author went around campus in a wheelchair.
As someone with cerebral palsy who has to use a wheelchair on a daily basis I cannot endorse going around campus for one day in a wheelchair as being equivalent to understanding what it is like to have a physical, let alone unseen disability.
The people that organised this I’m sure had good intentions but they misrepresent the problem by undervaluing the progress that has been made in certain areas whilst also underestimating the commitment and ability of disabled students to deal with the challenges they face every day of their lives.