Disabled students: Durham is inaccessible

They can’t use the Night Bus

Durham is a difficult place for students with mobility problems.

Cobbled streets and historic buildings mean that getting around this city can be a hard task. Even modern facilities are incredibly restrictive.

Disabled students at Durham are frequently being told by the DSU that vital arrangements for improved accessibility cannot be made.

But disabled students are being told that the money is just not available to fund their needs.

These restrictions include the Night Bus , which currently can not be used by students in wheelchairs.

Millie Hawes, a second year Law student at Josephine Butler, told The Tab: “The DSU night bus is inaccessible. While the service is offered to all students, it is out of bounds for wheelchair users as there is no ramp.

“I have spoken with the DSU and was told that they could not make the night bus accessible, nor could they offer a feasible alternative, due to their limited budget.

“This has left students in wheelchairs with no safe way to get home alone on a night out without incurring tremendous costs using a taxi, which unfairly discriminates against students with disabilities.”

The Night Bus gives us a safe mode of transport home late at night, meaning whether it’s a late night at the library, or a massive one in Loft, we aren’t trawling the streets in the early hours of the morning.

Millie also spoke to us about the limited access to the DSU building itself: “A major access issue in Durham is the DSU. While there are stair lifts in the building, they inevitably break and are, for me, impossible to operate alone leaving me entirely dependent on others to access the building.”

Disabled students are unable to access all of their lecture and seminars, because there aren’t any lifts in buildings like Elvet Riverside. This means many students not only can not access the classes they pay £9,000 a year for, but also are unable to personally hand in their assignments.

Luckily, Millie is at JoBo, where she has personally received a lot of support from her college, and she’s able to access all of the facilities her college offer.

Other colleges, like Castle, are completely inaccessible to students, even the dining room is inaccessible because there aren’t any ramps.

Millie said: “If there were a bigger ‘pot of money’ dedicated to disability provision then more colleges could become fully accessible which would provide wheelchair users with greater choice as to college applications”.

The DSU told The Tab: “The university has a clear responsibility to ensure their buildings and activities are accessible to all students, our Students with Disabilities Association have been doing excellent work to raise this important issue at a university level this year.

“We are currently assessing the accessibility issues of the Nightbus as we recognise that this is a challenge. We are reviewing the lease agreement for the current vehicle and are looking to seek an upgrade to a new accessible vehicle.

“In the interim our plan is to provide funding for accessible transportation for students who are unable to use our Nightbus service, and we will be providing further information about this in due course.”