My name is Abbi, I'm a second year English Lit with Creative Writing student and I have bilateral hip dysplasia with retroversion. I am really passionate about disabled students access to university both on and off campus.
In May, I had the exciting opportunity to attend the NUS Disability conference in Manchester after being elected as your NUS Disability Rep in the SU elections earlier this year. The campaign represents all students with disabilities - and it was an incredibly eye opening to be surrounded by so many students who were active in their disability networks up and down the country.
The conference was split over two days, with a variety of sessions including panels, speakers and caucuses - as well as the elections and votes on motions and policy. I really enjoyed the fact that I had the opportunity to engage with policy that would help improve students' lives in the future, such as a motion to stand in solidarity with Palestine, and a motion for disabled students to fight against the marketisation within higher and further education.
There was an incredible talk by the keynote speaker, Paula Peters from DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) about the relationship between austerity and disability and the impact these cuts are having on disabled people. This really inspired me to research and engage with this on a local, grassroots level - in both my university town and my home town. I would really encourage other students, both able-bodied and disabled, to read up on the cuts which may or may not affect them now, but will do in the future.
As a first time delegate, it was very intense and slightly overwhelming at times but I am so appreciative that I had the opportunity to attend and engage with these issues. It was so interesting to meet people from different universities who were encountering the same issues I had and discussing ways to combat them to avoid younger students experiencing this in the future.
Anyone can become disabled at any time, a diagnosis or an accident can change your life, and it makes you realise how inaccessible the modern world is. Being surrounded by other disabled people made me realise how much more needs to be done and how the NUS is involved in advancing and protecting disabled students at a time when austerity cuts are chipping away at their quality of life.
If you want to get involved with our Disabled Students Network, you can sign up here.