The student population of UCC is approximately 20,000 people who are diverse in every which way possible; from age, race, nationality, beliefs, sexual orientation and of course, disability. Even in the disability bracket alone, it is a diverse amount from visual and hearing impairment, to needing a wheelchair and long-term illnesses, to mental and emotional disabilities such as Down syndrome, dyslexia and autism. Here at UCC, there are over 900 students with disabilities and are registered to the Disability Support Service (DSS), including myself.
My name is Louise Clancy. I am a second year student in Arts International, studying English and Sociology. I also have Asperger’s Syndrome. Over the years I had a couple of issues with confidence, behaviour and socialising with others in school. However, I found that college has helped improve my Asperger’s overall. Living away from home and joining several societies has helped me get better at talking to new people and being organised. I still struggle with writing down notes quickly, processing a lot of information in a short space of time, remembering to do important things at the right time and not being able to control my emotions under stress. As a result, my Asperger’s is a big factor in making important decisions such as my Erasmus year, as I will need support services wherever I will study. Luckily the DSS have been great to me. They have given me note-taking services, enabled me to use my voice recorder in class, helped me get revision grinds, provided me an alternative room for my exams, and helped me write my CV. Not only have the DSS been supportive in the past, they are also willing to help me out with my future.
Muireann, a second year Film & Screen Media student has mild cerebral palsy
and it is specifically Right Hemiplegia “meaning that the CP has affected the right side of my body”. Muireann believes that one of her biggest challenges with her Cerebral Palsy for her college work is when she would “get tired very easily from carrying heavy text books around hurts by back, it is hard to take down notes fast enough in class, as I can’t keep up with the lecturers, meaning I need AT equipment, such as a microphone to record lectures. Also, I need a scribe and separate room in order to complete exams as without that help, I wouldn’t be able to complete them in time.” In her social life in college she states her biggest challenge would be “my confidence regarding people’s perceptions of disability and what they might think of me. But so far, nearly everyone I have encountered here, have been understanding and supportive.” Muireann is also satisfied with how UCC and the Disability Support Service have helped and supported her during her time in college so far. “They have, from the beginning, understood my needs and provided the supports which I need to have a fulfilling and enjoyable university experience. I found that the supports here are better than the ones I had in school because, they have more experience and the services were tailored to my exact needs.” She also thinks that UCC do not need to make any major improvements for students with disabilities.
Brian, an Environmental Science student, has both Asperger’s syndrome and Dysgraphia. He states that his Dysgraphia affects his college work because it “makes it very hard to write coherently or clearly. It’s impossible to take efficient notes in lectures or write in a tight time limit.” Brian states that his Asperger’s can affect his social life in college because it “makes it difficult to approach social situations without becoming anxious about how I’ll behave in them, and causes me to worry about how I’ll behave in them when I actually go.” He believes that the DSS have been “immensely helpful” to his college career since his diagnosis. He claims because of the Disability Support Service, “They ensure I have learning support, tutors, access to a quiet lab in the library, a separate room and scribe for written exams, and almost anything else I could need to make up for Dysgraphia and Asperger’s.” He also thinks that UCC have good infrastructure for students with disabilities. “I’ve yet to speak to someone on campus who was dissatisfied with the campus’ attention to its disabled students and faculty members. Apparently the lift in the Boole is a bit scary, but that’s about it!”
For students with disabilities, UCC has greatly acknowledged the need for services on campus. From a good standard of accessibility in and around the buildings, to the Disability Activism and Awareness Society which is run by students for students to raise awareness to a variety of issues, and the Disability Support Service. The DSS run a wide range of services for students such as Pre-entry Programmes, Education Supports, Sports & Leisure, Lifestyle Coaching, Careers Advice, and Mentoring Support Programme. With the help of these supports in UCC, there is nothing that can stop these students with from reaching their full potential.