A wheelchair user couldn’t attend a lecture last week due to ‘inconsiderate’ room allocation

The Master’s student has a muscle condition


A Sheffield Uni student who uses a motorised wheelchair was not able to attend a lecture on Friday due to "inconsiderate" room allocation.

Benjamin James, a Master’s student who studies Science Communication, was unable to attend his first lecture for a new module because the room was inaccessible to those in a wheelchair.

Benjamin has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a progressive condition that leads to muscle degeneration and weakness that requires him to use a motorised wheelchair.

He had arrived at the first lecture of a new module – Communicating with the Media – when he realised that he couldn’t get to the lecture room.

Speaking exclusively with the The Sheffield Tab, Benjamin said: "It just turned out that whilst there was a lift to that level and most of the rooms were accessible it was just that lecture theatre was down steps which is obviously not possible [for me].

"I had to get my PA, Duncan, to tell the lecturer that I couldn’t access the lecture just so they knew and she came out to talk to me and she was equally as annoyed.

"She offered to redo the lecture for me and said that afterwards she would send me the lecture slides and if I had any questions she would answer them.

"She was prepared to go out of her way."

Benjamin said that whilst studying his undergraduate degree at Nottingham University he had never encountered this problem, and that during his Master’s at Sheffield he hadn't had an issue with room accessibility until now.

"I’m quite practical so I didn’t get too annoyed," he said. "It’s just quite frustrating, you know it was a nine o'clock lecture and it turned out I didn’t have to get up that early so I was more frustrated and disappointed actually because surely the university knew I would be coming so it’s an error on their part."

A number of students at the lecture commented on the situation and said they felt uncomfortable that Benjamin was not able to participate with one student calling it "inconsiderate and unacceptable".

Mark Bradley, University Teacher & Director of Postgraduate Studies in the Department of Journalism Studies said: "We are very sorry that a student wasn't able to access a lecture today.

"We have changed the location for future lectures to ensure that they are fully accessible and we have let the student know."