YUSU has failed to meet all the requirements of its own policy towards students with disabilities, it was revealed at a meeting of the Union Executive last week.
The policy document, entitled ‘The University of York Students’ Union Disability Equality Scheme’ was written last year by former Academic and Welfare Officer Amy Foxton.
YUSU President Anne-Marie Canning admitted that “[the document] contains a number of actions points we still have to achieve.” The policy outlines seven areas for future development, of which only three have been successfully implemented.
One of the main areas of failure concerns the accessibility of the Athletic Union to students with disabilities. Canning pointed out to the Union Executive that they have failed to provide ‘goal-ball,’ a disability-friendly sport, throughout the whole of this year.
“The problem with pursuing sports geared towards people with disabilities, such as goal-ball or boccia, is that you need enough interest to play,” said AU President Jo Carter. “I was really keen to look into wheelchair basketball this year, but equipment is so expensive and we’re just about managing to keep our 50 plus sports teams going as it is,” she continued.
The revelations have also brought back into focus the role of a YUSU Disability Officer on campus, a position that has been vacant since last term’s elections.
“Obviously it’s concerning that there’s not been anyone there to answer emails or enquiries,” said Canning. “They get forwarded on to myself, but we’ve not had any, but maybe people aren’t emailing because they know no one’s in the position. I’m not best pleased with the situation, but hopefully we’ll soon have someone in there,” she added.
Nominations for a new Disability Officer were open throughout week seven and eight, in preparation for a run of by-elections, but no interested parties put themselves forward for the role.
Canning admitted that accessibility on campus is far from adequate: “Campus can be a bit of a nightmare for disabled students getting around; when the bridges were closed that made it very difficult, and some of the surfaces aren’t very wheelchair-friendly,” she said.
A review of the disability services by the University is currently underway, and union policy on disability and equality is also set to be rewritten and revised, with a view to submitting it for ratification at the first union general meeting of next term.