Letter: Make the effort for all

December 14, 2001

The report "Disabled student paid settlement by UCLan" (Whistleblowers, THES , December 7) raises the issue of how to close the gap between a university's objectives and what happens when a university teacher has to teach a student who is disabled.

The University of Central Lancashire is committed to "enhancing the student experience I and supporting staff in the delivery of the highest quality provision". It did not do so for Peter Nicholson. On a weekend course, he had no wheelchair access to his bedroom, was not always provided with resources he could use, and was made to feel he had no right to complain.

I teach university students of differing backgrounds and abilities. I am also Peter's brother. I know that to teach him I would have to be better prepared. I could not produce handouts in a form he could not use. I could not assume that any lecture or tutorial room will do. I would have to consider how he could use internet and video materials and how images could be made accessible. I would hope that he would do much of this for me as he is better placed to assess the merits of resources.

Above all, I hope that I would acknowledge that his physical disabilities imply no mental incapacity. He has as much right as any other student to challenge my thinking. Disability is not confined to the physical - it exists in the minds of healthy people, too.

John R. Nicholson
University of East Anglia

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