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UEA opens its doors for Disabled Access Day

Access for students with disabilities

The University of East Anglia (UEA) is opening up its campus for this year’s Disabled Access Day on Sunday 12 March. The national event, sponsored by the disabled access review site Euan’s Guide, is designed to highlight and celebrate accessible venues.

“We believe that our University should accommodate diverse abilities and we’re proud to have one of the most accessible campuses in the UK,” said UEA’s Vice-Chancellor Prof David Richardson. “Everything we do here at UEA, from investing in our facilities to undertaking ground-breaking research, is done with the intention of giving our students everything they need to thrive, and making our campus easily accessible to everyone is a vital part of this ambition.”

The number of students with disabilities choosing to study at UEA has increased by 50% in the past 10 years and is continuing to grow. Of the almost 15,000 students on campus today, 12% have a disability.

UEA’s particular challenge, as a campus largely designed and built in the 1960s, is to ensure that the whole site, from the lecture theatres to accommodation, is accessible. Over the past three years, many improvements have been made including the installation of 107 powered doors – with a further 56 due to be fitted this summer – a fire lift to make the Student Union fully accessible, more accessible teaching rooms and toilets, more ramps and better signage. In addition, all future buildings will be constructed according to the University’s Access Guide to ensure that everyone can use them.

“We’ve undertaken a huge amount of work on our campus to make it as accessible and welcoming for students and staff with disabilities as it is for the fully able-bodied,” said Katherine Deane, a Senior Lecturer and member of the Access All Areas Team at UEA. “We believe it’s crucial that everyone has equal access to education and the ability to develop their talents for their future careers, not face unnecessary restrictions simply because they can’t physically get to a lecture theatre or seminar room.”

The work UEA has undertaken extends beyond its infrastructure, as the University’s student support services are fully equipped to assist students with disabilities, and the Students’ Union has a long tradition of diversity and inclusiveness in its societies and activities.

The event, which runs from 10am to 4pm, is free to attend but booking is essential. Activities include stands run by student services and local attractions, talks by UEA academics and Disabled Go, safety equipment demonstrations, accessible accommodation tours and accessible sport demonstrations at the Sportspark. Pets as Therapy (PAT) dogs will also be on campus with their handlers throughout the day and available for pre-booked therapy sessions.

For more information, go to the UEA website or call 01603 592130.