An update from Zoe, your Disabilities Officer.
Hello everyone! As your Disabilities Officer, I have been up to a lot ‘behind the scenes’ this past semester. As such, I am writing this article to give you an insight into what I have been doing and what I hope to do in the next semester.
This semester I have been asking lots of questions to fellow students, reporting back on findings from events such as Freshers’ Fayre and using my personal experience as person who is disabled, with many friends who also have disabilities, to help improve the services available to people who may need extra help.
My aim this year is to make Sports and Societies more inclusive and the overall campus of the University more inclusive and accessible to everyone, I started this off by talking to sports teams at the Sports Fayre and posing questions to them about accessibly and inclusivity. I also helped at Freshers’ Fayre so I could take note on any issues and improvements that could be made for Refreshers and Freshers next year.
Some of these changes where taken into consideration at Refreshers Fayre, these were: wider walkways so there were more space and less crowds. A quiet hour rather than half an hour giving people more time with less noise and crowds. The final change was Sunflower Lanyards so that if someone needed help, they were able to receive it quickly.
I have helped the SU to redesign and make their website more accessible to everyone. This includes them using a software called ‘Recite Me’. You can find this in the accessibility tools which are right next to where you sign in at the top of the webpage. ‘Recite Me’ allows you to change the language and the colour of the text as well as the colour of the background. It also reads out the text on the website and can describe images. They are in the process of making further changes to their website based on feedback I have given them to improve their accessibility.
One of the main events of last semester that I have pushed for is the introduction of the Sunflower Lanyards to the Students’ Union at events such as Freshers’ and Refreshers Fayre. They were trialled at Refreshers and were a success with lots of students asking for them and using them. I am hoping to take the Sunflower Lanyards further and make them University wide, but this is still in the planning phase.
Last semester I was also involved in the Lincoln Together campaign which I thoroughly enjoyed. I talked to many students about what inclusivity meant to them and how they could be more inclusive. It was lovely to be part of a big campaign across campus.
I was also involved in the Campaigns Network T-shirt campaign where we went around campus in T-shirts with statements on that were designed to shock and make people think. My T-shirt had the words “you don’t look disabled” on the front. This is a statement that has been said to me. We use this campaign to make people aware of who we are and as a way of speaking to students about issues. I met a number of you and talked about a number of issues that I am currently working to get sorted!
This semester I shall be running my Spoons campaign. This campaign aims to make people aware of invisible disabilities in the hope of educating people and breaking the stigma around disabilities.
This semester I shall also be using the feedback from my survey on accessibility. The survey was open until the 17th of February. As always, the more responses we get the better changes we can make.
This feedback from the survey will be used to help me to work with and improve the Students’ Union and the University’s accessibility.
I have lots of other interesting things coming up and will keep you all updated on what’s going on. I hope you have enjoyed this sneak peek behind the scenes and everything that I am doing to improve accessibility on campus!
If you have any questions, suggestions or issues please don’t hesitate to get in touch.