“Oxford Student Disability Community accepts people for who they are. We don’t see disability, although we adapt to it without question; we see the person,” Hannah Prescott, President of OSDC, tells me.
Vice-President Sam Pugh expands on this. “Having a disability can often be very isolating, but having the opportunity through OSDC to meet people who are in exactly the same boat has been invaluable.”
OSDC aims to bring together students with disabilities socially, while campaigning for more understanding and treatment of disability. We advocate on behalf of, and support, students with disabilities at Oxford. We view disability as self-definitional, regardless of official recognition. We also welcome students without disabilities who are interested in disability.
One undergraduate told me, “It’s great to be around a bunch of fantastic people who just ‘get it’, because they share aspects of your lived experiences which your non-disabled friends cannot necessarily understand. OSDC is so valuable because it makes you feel not alone as a disabled student at Oxford.”
Oxford has over 1,200 students who have declared a disability and the University states that it is “committed to making reasonable adjustments and addressing any individual support requirements to ensure that students are able to participate fully and enjoy a fulfilling university experience.“ While there are cases of good support, this is not yet every disabled student’s experience.
“I have not found the University to be understanding of my illness,” says Hannah. “Students have reported the same negative circumstances for many years now – for example, delays in receiving adjustments and issues of confidentiality being breached – but not a lot has changed.”
A postgraduate student commented, “Oxford, unfortunately, is not very good at making all its events and opportunities accessible – not only core academic work, but also the panoply of other social events too… The Disability Advisory Service here is not always most effective at coordinating and facilitating inclusion.”
Our termcard is on our Facebook group, ‘Oxford Students’ Disabilities Community (OSDC)’, and any Oxford student can join.
The committee is open to all. It isn’t like other committees, and there will be an understanding that our disabilities come first and we can only do what we can do.