Emily has endeavoured to up-skill herself since her accident in 2012. Emily readily admits that she always wanted to continue her studies. So the process started as she fulfilled a prerequisite course prior to applying for a post-graduate diploma in psychology. Several years on as a graduate of psychology she considered her options – pivotal to her decision was the goal of working in a team with opportunities and variety – leading Emily to choose a Masters of Social Work.
I have been extremely supportive of her decisions and gaily waved her off to meet the disability service personnel prior to her February trimester start date.
Further education after SCI
The disability service personnel were attentive and supportive. They reassured Emily that all the allowances that she needs to ensure she can manage the course would be in place. Emily is perfectly capable she is just a fraction slower with note taking and essay writing. Her work is not of a lesser standard nor is she challenged mentally any more than her fellow students. Emily can interact and participate in a sophisticated manner, she is determined and motivated so it came as a great shock when she met a course tutor.
The tutor took this initial meeting to query whether social work was the best course for Emily or whether other institutions would meet her needs more fully. The tutor basically in a few sentences undermined Emily’s application obviously forgetting Emily had met all the entry criteria and had been legitimately accepted onto the course of her choice.
Upon Emily’s return home I listened to her recount details from the meeting while the kettle boiled for tea and I boiled with it – to hear that a tutor in a college of further education showed such disregard for a differently-abled person’s choice and ability was disappointing. I expected an open-minded, positive and progressive attitude with some can-do thinking. I advocate for Emily’s independence – physical, mental and economic so it pains me when she is confronted with unnecessary stigma.
Further education needed to reduce stigma, prejudice and discrimination
I have had many conversations with Emily about the skills she would bring to a social work role; her insight, her integrity, her empathy – all with real experience. I find it appalling that a professional lecturer in social work displayed such negative judgement instead of accepting Emily credentials, her enthusiasm and proven ability through adversity. Emily had travelled across the city purposely for this interview seeking to cement support services not to justify her application and personal appropriateness for inclusion into the course.
Society is shifting with accessibility and accessible technology so as a quadriplegic the work opportunities are expanding and the workplace is morphing BUT there is still a need to reduce stigma, prejudice and discrimination with further education and to raise awareness of the abilities of the differently-abled.
I hope the tutor learns from Emily because this tutor isn’t educated regarding the differently-abled; their ability, their determination and their enormous potential.
Determined and capable!
Advocacy is an important aspect of caring – Read more: