Posts Tagged ‘Blindness’

Sasson Hann on the Vital Help of the Disabled Student’s Grant, Now Under Attack by the Tories

May 21, 2014

I’ve reblogged Mike’s piece from Vox Political discussing the Tory’s proposed cuts to the Disabled Students’ Grant. This gives support to disabled people, who would otherwise find it extremely difficult to study at Uni. The Tories intended remove this grant from all but those they consider to be the most seriously disabled. Sasson Hann gives their account of how they were able, with the aid of the grant and through their own hard work, gain a degree in music despite their immense handicaps and the lack of sympathy or consideration from some of their lecturers.

There is no possible way that I would have been able to complete my degree and gain a good grade without the Disabled Students Grant.

Firstly, due to extreme fatigue and pain I only ever managed to attend the first couple of weeks of any semester, so it was vital that I had equipment at home. Even if I could have accessed the studios and computer rooms at the university they were rarely available, rather benefiting those who lived on campus who could pop in at various times during the day until they were free, whereas being a mature student I was living in my own home some distance from the university.

With regard to equipment, I not only received an excellent laptop, but since I was studying computer composition and experimental film as part of my music degree I was also entitled to claim for the associated music programs, monitor speakers, headphones, and hardware for inputting sound. These would have cost many thousands of pounds. My internet connection was also paid for. My travel in a taxi to university was also covered as the hour long journey by bus would have made me terribly ill.

Even with all of this extra financial help, it did not put me on a level playing field with the other students. I faced a lot of prejudice from certain lecturers. I had to work right through the the year without any breaks due to constant illness. I missed most lectures and had to study at home, which was a great disadvantage. In my final year, the exam department messed up one of my exam arrangement so I had to finish my exam half way through, and though all tutors had allowed me extra time before – typically to work through the holidays and hand assignments in a month to 6 weeks later – one tutor who was always supportive suddenly decided not to allow me the extra time. I appealed both counts to no avail, even though the leading professor said it would have only taken me 2 weeks to complete. Despite this I gained a high 2.1, but this would have translated into a first had I not faced such opposition, which greatly upset me at the time after how hard I had worked.

It really is hard enough to obtain a degree as it is, but now thousands like me won’t stand a chance. Unfortunately, I eventually had to give up my professional work a few years after graduating due to a chronic deterioration – perhaps this is why the government feel it’s not worth investing in disabled people – but many disabled people do go on to work for years. Without such a degree, they may not be able to work at all.

Sasson Hann

I’ve met other disabled people, who have similarly been helped through the provision of specialist equipment, to study at Uni. One of the women students I knew was blind, but was able to study through using brail materials and, I believe, recordings or electronic versions of some texts. And with the right support, other disabled people are also able successfully to pursue a career and reach a very high standard of excellence. I knew another lad, who was paralysed from the neck down and was dependent on the care of a nurse. He was, however, a computer whizzkid, who had reached a position of great respect in the company for which he worked, because of his skills as a software engineer.

The cuts the Tories propose will not only make it much harder for people like these to study at Uni, it will also deprive the rest of society of the benefits of their talents. And this will harm the ‘knowledge economy’ that we have been told is so vital to the country.

It is, like the raising of tuition fees, another way of excluding all but the extremely rich from education, or else keeping them in fear and debt for the rest of their lives.