Support and action the Exeter University Disability Campaign 2020 to stop discrimination.

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PLEASE SIGN AND ADD YOUR STATEMENT OF SUPPORT UNDER THE COMMENT SECTION OF THIS PETITION. When signing, please add your position if applicable. For example 'Student at the University of Exeter'. Thank you!

We are demanding the support and positive action by the University of Exeter council and senate, alongside all committees, members and other institutional management offices, departments and academic organisations affiliated with the university, in effecting a proactive response to The Disability Campaign 2020. The list of petition recipients listed on this petition include those with the capacity to enact change, but is not limited to those listed and indirectly includes all groups and individuals capable of satisfying the demands of the campaign. 

The 2020 Disability Campaign at the University of Exeter is proposed to reduce noncompliance with the Equality Act 2010 by reducing discrimination towards those with a disability. This will be done by implementing new training measures, changing and adding procedures and raising awareness at the University of Exeter as well as many smaller additions to policy and changes within departments, management levels and other committees/societies at the University alongside all affiliates that can enact the changes required.

The disability campaign is urgent and necessary due to the University of Exeter’s obligation to comply with the Equality Act 2010, in order to fix barriers that exist to disabled people. The outcome of the disability campaign will be eliminated discrimination, advanced equality of opportunity and fostered good relations between different people who carry out their activities.

The disability campaign has been designed to ensure that the treatment of a person with the protected characteristic ‘disability’ is equally treated to a person without the characteristic. It addresses 4 core aspects of noncompliance to the Equality Act 2010 at the University of Exeter, not limited to but specifically dealing with the following:

·      Sports inclusivity

·      Invisible disability

·      Reasonable adjustments AND Proactivity

This campaign is here to stay. Previous campaigns have been ignored by the university and no action has been taken. Therefore, with the large team behind it including members of staff, students, parents and ex-students across many disciplines, this campaign must be addressed as the university is breaking their legal obligation to reduce disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

We are pleased to be working with and be supported by various groups across the country, councils of subject departments, subject lecturers, members of Exeter's Student Guild, college officers, charities and other organisations, as well as having contact with internal and external newspapers and the media.

Supportive comments on disability inclusion include:

  • “It’s clear that students are trying to avoid / bypass stigma, but avoiding something doesn’t make it go away - in recent years great progress has been made socially on mental health (though still a long way to go) while physical disability is still not talked about / considered enough and it’s particularly hard inside a representative democracy to advocate when actual physical engagement is in itself a problem.” 
  • "The University of Exeter has made great progress in recent years by investing much into mental health support, by creating a wide and very accessible portfolio of support networks. Despite this, physical disabilities can often be overlooked today as many are ‘invisible’ too. Whilst I do not rely on the existing support infrastructure as ILPs, hearing loops and radios in each room, something as simple as creating reserved seating in the front on lecture theatres would solve my problem of having a hearing problem and the difficulties faced by those with mobility disabilities for example. There are many (often small) ways in which both the physical and technological infrastructure, as well as the human capital of the campus, can be modified to better support the student experience (and workplace environment) of those with physical disabilities. This is why support for this campaign is vital and should be seriously considered as a long term strategy by the University, equivalent to that of the ‘Education Strategy’ or the Global Strategy’." 

 

1. Sports inclusivity 

Sporting activities at the University of Exeter is neither accessible nor promoted and encouraged for disabled people. Disabled people are at a substantial disadvantage compared to their peers in terms of all the benefits that sports bring and the lack of inclusion fails to satisfy the Equality Act 2010.

There are minimal opportunities for disabled students to participate in sports activities in the city of Exeter or within any reasonable travelling distance, rendering disability sport from casual to competitive, completely impossible.

Goal:

·      Implementation of disability inclusion in all sports activities at the university including funding to achieve this objective

·      Increased awareness and promotion of disability sports throughout the university

 

2. Invisible Disability

Students at the University of Exeter that have invisible disabilities, not limited to but including epilepsy, chronic pain, autism, colitis and Crohn's disease do not receive enough recognition or help for the disadvantages they face.

Having an invisible disability causes rise to problems such as misjudgment and discrimination. There is often no distinction drawn between individuals with varying invisible disabilities. This causes a lack of duty to comply with the equality act, therefore the university must act to reduce this stigma by awareness and advocation.

Goal:

·      Improve the understanding of students with disabilities and recognize their extra needs at the University of Exeter

·      Open doors of communication and provide opportunities for dialogue by talking about invisible disabilities

·      Recognize each student as an individual with personal needs

 

3. Reasonable Adjustments and Proactivity

The University of Exeter is a prime example of a university that does not show or promote itself as being accessible for all. Compelling examples from personal student stories of having to drop out of their education, difficulties organising support and the university placing the emphasis that it is the student's responsibility to get support after a declaration of disability, struggles with day to day life as well as the failing of the university to provide support after it is requested all show this failure to satisfy the equality act 2010.

The systematic failure in policy and action of policy across the university, media and publication and other supportive organizations and management areas is disappointing to not only disabled people but to the entire of society when the university is advertised as inclusive for all.

Goal:

·      To satisfy all aspects of the equality act in relation to disability, creating a university that is an exemplar in disability inclusion, not just as an employer, but also as an educational institute for all involved

·      Major policy change and creation of a strategy to satisfy the Equality Act 2010

 

Thank you in advance for signing and commenting your statement of support for this campaign, it means a lot to us.  A list of actions (demands) is available by contacting the Disability Campaign and as per the date this petition was published, are accurate.

 

General actions:

Awareness among staff members of invisible disabilities

Public and university-wide materials to highlight that not all disabilities are visible

Reserved lecture seating

Equality Act Duty training needs to be carried out more comprehensively

Compliance to the duty to make reasonable adjustments in a timely and reasonable manner

Disabled car parking restructure and new, state of the art campus mobility provisions including the suggested tuk-tuk taxi scheme or a suitable alternative such as on-demand, free, eco-friendly internal taxi scheme for students with a disability

Private escape lounge for students to retreat from when the forum and university is overwhelming

When an adjustment is to be made, the university should be preparing for this and not wait for the student to come to them

Cost of printing materials free to disabled students

ILP list of possible arrangements to be published based on previous examples to make and suggest all possible access arrangements instead of waiting for students to come with a problem

Public campaign/advertising on physical posters

Banning taxi's and creating designated taxi drop off and pick up areas for students who do not require driving on the small roads due to a disability and banning of taxis from waiting in car parks, which causes large queues and access issues for accessing accessible parking

Improvement in sports society/club access and participation for people with disabilities

Dedicated peer to peer support and networking for disabled students to be created

Publication of equality statistics in a timely manner 

A public apology and management to be open to discussion with the media acknowledging the inaccessibility of the University of Exeter and what will be done to change it

Statement of support and dedication to complete all actions that are financially and physically possible (which under the equality act 2010, are all of them!)

Sports inclusion actions:

Training for those involved in sport and physical activity delivery at the university including members of the sports centres, those who run gym classes and sports club leadership teams

Training on delivering excellent customer service for disabled people for sports centre leadership teams and fitness instructors

Encouragement of disabled people in the sports centre to be employed and volunteer

Knowledge and successful implementation of the inclusion activity model in sports sessions

Challenging perceptions with the #whosays campaign

Keynote speakers invited to discuss the importance of sports inclusions to senior members of the university, sports and relevant bodies.

Provide support by the means of collaborating and supporting the charity “Motivation” CN: 1079358 

Publish information on the inaccessibility of sports at the university

Acknowledgement that the university is not the number one sports university in the country due to the failure to include any form of para-sport funding or participation in all matters relating to sports

Invisible disability actions :

Display signs that state “not every disability is visible” on all disabled toilets and larger cubicles within main toilets to remind students not to make assumptions and prove that the University of Exeter supports reducing discrimination against those with hidden disabilities when using toilet facilities

Thorough staff training dedicated to disability awareness

Show your support by sharing stories of people who will now benefit from the disability campaign actions

Support the #DISRUPTTHESILENCE campaign

Demonstrate CredAble access to all buildings

University staff, student and affiliate rollout of the access card by Nimbus disability in partnership with the AccessCard and Nimbus Disability

Reasonable adjustments and proactivity actions:

Change the speed and efficiency at which problems arising from the equality act are dealt with

Major restructuring of university grounds in order to be accessible using a wide range of methods including lifts, secret ramps and mobility services

Promotion of specific access schemes for graduates with disabilities

Recognition that disabled students face a substantial disadvantage alongside other equality protected characteristics that are more spoken about

More momentary assistance to students with disabilities to be inline with other protected characteristics opportunities that exist, including but not limited to a scholarship for students with disabilities

Bring in a team of engineers and consultants to make Exeter’s hilly campus more accessible. This might be via the use of a small funicular railway, a covered glass-walled moving walkway, mobility scooters to take to the top and back down with a special pass, e-scooters- use and drop, and our favourite idea: a campus business tuk-tuk taxi scheme with tuk-tuk lanes and non-stairway paths to connect parts of campus via the tuk-tuk scheme or suitable alternative.

Banning the use and access of taxis from the campus internal roads, from sitting in front of accessible spaces or waiting at the closest point to a building which prevents disabled students being able to access the provisions they require. This excludes taxis funded by the DSA and used by students with disabilities.

Adjustment to peer marking scheme to account for the lack of inclusion of factors such as dyslexia in summative and formative assignments. Peer marked grades must be moderated and adjusted prior to being released to account for any ILP related adjustments.

Offering a new park and ride service for university staff who receive a company benefit for not parking on campus if they are able to. This would reduce the huge problem that is experienced with oversubscribed parking and many staff members would be happy to participate in a scheme to assist the less able to park closer. 

 

The list of demanded adjustments is accurate as of the date of this petition going live, however, is subject to changes and addition of new actions and editing of original ones, as and when problems are brought to our attention.