This post was written by Elham Hafiz (UTS student and Digital Accessibility Ambassador).

The LX.lab has recently released Students Explain Digital Accessibility – a suite of videos about making your learning and teaching accessible. These videos were created in collaboration with UTS students who have a lived experience of disability – our Digital Accessibility Ambassadors. In the final part of a series of posts accompanying the videos, Digital Accessibility Ambassador Elham Hafiz writes about how she has benefited from using the Accessibility Service during her studies.

‘Do you have a disability?’ is one of my most dreaded questions when filling out a form. Whether it’s a university-related form or a job application, it’s extremely difficult to not feel like this information would be used against you. 

Why it’s difficult for students to disclose

During my university application, I hovered over the ‘no’ option for a while before I decided to disclose my disability. The question was both confronting and overwhelming. On one hand, I felt like this was information I didn’t want the university to know because I may be treated differently, and not in a good way. The next question was if I wanted to be contacted by an Accessibility Service, which I agreed to. 

Two years later, I feel like disclosing my disability was one of the best decisions I made aside from enrolling in university. The Accessibility Service supported me by advocating for me, putting in place conditions that enabled me to perform well in my studies, and facilitating difficult conversations with academics.

How disclosing benefited me

When I first started university, I was overwhelmed and didn’t know how I could make it to the finish line. The Accessibility Service had an instrumental role in my success as a student with a disability, and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity of having a level playing field.

This doesn’t mean that I feel comfortable disclosing my disability in all situations. I am still wary about ticking that box when it comes to job applications because I don’t know how that could affect me. As far as educational institutions go, I feel like UTS is very equipped with supporting students and cares about our success.

I would like to encourage any student hesitating on registering with the Accessibility Service to go for it. They’re there to support our educational journey, and they do a great job! Good luck, and I hope you’re getting the most out of your education.

Feature image by pikisuperstar.

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