Education is something many of us take for granted. We start around the age of five and are set free in our late teens. For people like myself who choose to study in Higher Education, my journey has yet to end. I am in my final year of university studying psychology and child development, with the potential to study for a Masters next year. But what if your disability
significantly impacts your education?
For the most part, a disability should not stop us from achieving academically. However, a lack of support within education can be detrimental to our progress. With education being compulsory for the most part, it can be worrying when individual needs are not met. For myself, I’ve been very lucky with the support I’ve received. I have mild Cerebral Palsy and when I started my GCSE’s I used to type all my work on an iPad so I could keep up with notetaking and would often take pictures of the board to save me having to write it all out. Most of the time this worked, yet I always felt it wasn’t the same experience as everyone else.
I’ve always been given extra time in exams, had notes sent to me before a lecture and a classroom I could physically access. Conversely, I know of others who have to fight just to be able to attend a mainstream school – with the battle to get the correct support within the classroom an added struggle. They are having to fight for something that they are capable of doing with the right provision.
The support provided to me has enabled me to achieve highly. However, the extra hours I regularly put in should not go unnoticed. Disabled people often have to work 10 times harder to get grades, even when adequate support is in place. I believe this is often misunderstood as us being incapable. It may take me longer to process information, longer to read documents or longer to type out an assignment but the results are often on a par with my peers.
Despite this being a regular occurrence, nothing is being done about it.
Education is amazing and a disability should not stop someone from studying. Nevertheless, more needs to be done to understand the complexity of individual needs and get rid of the notion that a support plan places us on a level playing field as our peers. These support plans can be wonderful and allow us entry into the classroom, but do they account for what is going on behind the scenes?
If you are finding it difficult to manage education, please speak up and get the support you are fully entitled to!
About Chloe Tear…
For the last five years, while working through her GCSEs, A-Levels and university degree, Chloe Tear has been writing her blog, Life as a Cerebral Palsy Student. The blog has attracted over 70,000 views and led Chloe to work with over 45 organisations including Scope, the Royal Institute of Blind People, Huffington Post, the BBC, Cosmopolitan and The Mighty.