Louise invites YOU to Disability Awareness Day

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Helping students is an important part of what we do at De Montfort Students’ Union (DSU), but it wouldn’t be possible without you.

That’s why our Disabled Students’ Representative Louise Cunliffe is inviting you to a Disability Awareness Day on Friday 11 November to see what it can be like being a student with a disability – and to see what support is on offer at De Montfort University (DMU).

Louise said: “I think it is important for the whole student population and staff to gain that little bit more awareness than is already there. If people come with an open mind and spend that time – even if it’s only for 20 minutes – you can experience just how difficult it really can be.

“As a university 16% of our student population identify as having a disability, but not everyone knows how to interact with somebody who has a disability – or what support is there for students. This is what the Disability Awareness Day is all about.”

DMU signed a new Equality and Diversity Charter, DMUfreedom, earlier this year, and made a renewed pledge to support students with autism by signing the Autism Alliance Charter over the summer.

The university’s own Disability Advice and Support team will join Louise in The Space in The Art Factory on Friday from 12pm until 4pm where there will be a number of simulation activities including vision reducing glasses, wheelchair demonstrations and virtual reality headsets that mimic what a ‘sensory overload’ is like for someone with autism.

“I can’t wear [the headset] for the full minute,” Louise explained. “Seeing it from that perspective really helps you understand what people really go through. It hurts my head.

“While this will only give you part of the experience I am hoping that everyone who attends will gain an increased awareness and move forward with an empathy that they might not have had before.”


Louise (left) spoke to a huge number of students during #FreshFest16 to harness opinions on a Disability Awareness Day.

DSU’s VP Student Activities Ahtesham Mahmood and DMUsport will also be holding a number of disability sport taster sessions at The Watershed that are open to all. They are;

  • 12pm-3pm – Adaptive Rowing
  • 12pm-1pm – Wheelchair Basketball
  • 1pm-2pm – Wheelchair Rugby
  • 2pm-3pm – Boccia
  • 3pm-4pm – Sitting Volleyball

Ahtesham explained: "Along with being elected by our student body to increase awareness and  accessibility of our student groups, I have also been elected as British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) regional student chair in order to champion the delivery of Take A Stand and this event does exactly that; tackling disability discrimination.

"I believe the sporting experience shouldn't just be limited to a select group of students but to be inclusive of the whole student body, regardless of any disability. This collaborative event between DSU and the university endorses the commitment of providing the best student experience to all of our wonderful students."

No sign-up is required beforehand for either the simulation events in The Art Factory or the taster sessions in The Watershed.

Louise concluded: “It would be great to see as many people as possible [on the day] because it is important.

“We are all exactly the same on the inside whether we are standing up, have no hearing or look at the world differently; we are all the same underneath and are here for the same end goal.

“Both DMU and DSU see the ability in all of our students and not the disability.”

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