By Claire O’Brien and Tomás Heneghan
Following a Union General Meeting in February where a student’s difficulty travelling from the Kemmy Business School to the plaza was highlighted, ULSU student council is calling on the university to increase disability access on campus.
The main issue in question is the large steps from the plaza area towards the Kemmy and Schuman buildings. When the foundation building closes at night, a wheelchair-using student must travel on a road.
As well as this, Schumann building access is an issue for students with mobility difficulties. Due to step a in the entrance to the building, wheelchair users can only access the building using a side door.
UL Experience chairperson, Chris Collins stated that wheelchair users are “dependent on the kindness of strangers” when doors to university buildings are not automated. Mr. Collins also commented that “people don’t realise the pain of travelling around campus for these students”.
It is understood that a petition will soon be circulated in the hopes of gathering 1,000 signatures to highlight the importance of this issue.
An Focal contacted the University of Limerick for comment, however the newspaper received no response at the time of going to print.
In an email circulated to UL staff last week from the university’s Human Resources Division, the university explained that it is currently seeking the input of all university staff to an anonymous census before Friday, April 8th.
The email explains: “UL, along with the other Universities, has certain responsibilities under the Disability Act 2005. One such obligation is to identify whether or not we are meeting the employment target of 3% of staff with disabilities.
“As part of the University’s commitment as an equal opportunities employer, it is important that the University provides a supportive environment for staff with disabilities.
“To ensure that we are reporting accurately, we request ALL university staff to complete this anonymous census by Friday 8th April.
“Under the Act, disability is defined as follows: ‘Disability, in relation to a person, means a substantial restriction in the capacity of the person to carry on a profession, business or occupation in the State or to participate in social or cultural life in the State by reason of an enduring physical, sensory, mental health or intellectual impairment.’
“Please note that the nature of this could be ongoing or episodic, and could include:
· A physical impairment
· A sight, hearing or speech impairment
· An intellectual disability
· A mental health condition.”