Today is the 3rd of December, and it’s International Day of People with a Disability, so your friendly neighbourhood student blogger (with a disability) is here to share a few stories with you!
Navigating the Kelvin Grove campus with my physical impairment hasn’t always been easy. While a number of the newer buildings are accessible, the now-demolished L block and E block buildings were interesting to get around. To get to the Woodward theatre in room L207, I had to park in the carpark adjacent to E block and weave my way through the cinderblock-lined walls of the building, find the lift, come out on level 2, and weave my way out of the building to the concrete hallway joining E block and L block. Not an easy feat, by any means. It was time-consuming and if I wasn’t really focusing, it was confusing, too!
Planning for this required skill, reasoning, and the expert advice of my Disability Advisor at QUT. All students living with a disability can access this service and make a Support Plan for each semester. Knowing that getting into L block was a challenge meant that we added time consideration to my support plan, so every tutor and lecturer knew and understood that I may be late to classes if I have difficulty walking long distances and getting to the right room on time.
One of the compulsory subjects in my degree was a physical theatre unit called ‘Creating Body’. This subject’s requirements included lectures and weekly workshops. I did this subject a year later than most of my peers, and I remembered seeing their sweaty, red, fatigued (and possibly heartbroken) faces when running into them after their workshops.
This scared me.
Having received my Support Plan, the unit coordinator (the staff member in charge of the subject) got in touch to see how to best modify the subject for me and my needs. Participating fully in each workshop was a requirement of assessment, but we agreed that the physical demands of the unit were not ideal for me and my situation. Instead, I agreed to attend every workshop and take copious notes. I was still required to contribute to in-class discussion and to apply appropriate theory where possible. And of course, my assignments remained the same.
When the final performance assessment for this unit came around, I was pleased to be allocated to a group full of understanding and supportive fellow students. A couple of my group members remain great friends to this day. We created a performance that worked to each of our limits, and we received a good grade for our efforts. We then wrote our final assignment as a reflection on our performance, and I managed to receive a High Distinction.
A High Distinction in physical theatre? Me? The disabled one? I can’t stop laughing about it, even now.
This is me, in a wheelchair, taking a sneaky selfie mid-performance… Okay, so my phone was a prop… 2014 was an interesting year…
There are so many more stories I could share with you – including that time I fell and fractured my leg after a tute one day, went to hospital, and completed my performance assessments that semester in various stages of pain (see above photo) – but the main purpose of this post is to show all prospective QUT students that no matter the circumstance, tertiary study IS possible.
With the right support and accommodations in place, you can complete every subject. If you’re willing to work hard, QUT is willing to work with you.
Happy International Day of People with a Disability! Be kind to one another. 🙂