Arabic, Urdu and Swedish – just three of the 26 evening courses offered to King’s students by the Modern Language Centre. Excluded from this diverse list is any opportunity to learnÂ sign language or Braille.
My aspiration to take up sign language wasÂ short-lived when I learned that Kingâ€™sÂ does not offer a sign language courseÂ other than an optional component through the Clinical Communication Unit at the School of Medical Education. When I inquired further into this, aÂ spokesperson from Kingâ€™sÂ gave me this statement:
“In the past the demand for sign language courses has not been at a level to offer BSL (British Sign Language) courses. Should this change we would consider offering courses in the future.”
However,Â whenÂ The Disability Awareness Society offeredÂ a taster into BSL duringÂ their awareness week in October, theyÂ told Roar 50+ people attended. Â If this isn’t enough demand for the College to reconsider,Â thenÂ what will be?
This is just one of the many changes needed at Kingâ€™s with regards toÂ disability awareness and accessibility. It was the Disability Awareness Day earlier this month and with 2,427 self-identified disabled students inÂ King’s,Â there is no better time to start addressing these issues.
GeorgieÂ Spearing, the Disability Student Officer, told Roar why raising awareness for disability at King’s was important to her:
“A lot of disabled toilets can only be accessed by stairs and the rest are locked. Where’s the Braille? Where are the hearing loops and sign classes? One professor also asked me where myÂ epi-pen was as I have epilepsy (and those are for allergic reactions.) If I had known it would be so difficult I would really reconsider going to King’s. For a uni that prides itself on being so liberal, it is absolutely shitting on its students.”
GeorgieÂ also rose concerns over lecture captures; many of which are only available before exams as revision resources, which fails to respond to those who are absent due to regular illness or hospital appointments.
Other student’s gave their opinion on whether King’s isÂ doing enough for the Community:
“Disability is a taboo subject;Â you have to go out of your way to try to getÂ your own inclusion plans sorted. No one ever tells you what you’re entitled to. Instead,Â you have to huntÂ it down,Â and even after you do, you’reÂ told there’s nothing they can doÂ because the building/the lecturerÂ don’t work that way. People rarely think about things that don’t affect them, andÂ I have found that most people have no idea that disabled access at Kingâ€™s is really bad, which is why we need awareness.”
“I hadn’t thought about it until the other day when someone in a wheel chair was asking how to getÂ to different parts of the uni. It seemed really tough for them to get around since there are so many stairs to all the classrooms.”
– Stephanie BurnsÂ
With plans for Bush House underway, oneÂ big issue to overcome isÂ making grade 2 buildings accessible when construction is limited.Â With so many disabled students at Kingâ€™s, we should be doing more to,Â firstly, improve access and, secondly, to raise awareness into the stigma of disability as a student community: this includes making signÂ language and Braille accessible to all.
If you are keen toÂ find out moreÂ get in touch with the Disability Awareness Society or the Student’s Officer at: