A Student with Chronic Asthma undertaking a Sports Health and Exercise Science Degree. The information used in this case study is taken from the Staffordshire University Strand 2 project SIDE-STeP (Staffordshire Inclusive Disability Education – Sport TEaching Practice) http://crwnpro2.staffs.ac.uk/sidestep/
H is currently studying for a degree in Sports Health and Exercise Science and would like to go onto do a MRes on completion. Her interests are: water sports, sailing, windsurfing, power boating, canoeing and skating.
She believes that students with a visible difficulty are more likely to receive assistance from the institution as well as in and around the campus. She feels that there is a lack of understand from the department about what chronic asthma is and what her specific needs might be. H gives the example that all students have to attend and be involved in practical experiments to prevent them from using other people’s results. If students don’t attend practicals then they are not marked. H found it awkward when she could not participate in a test as she didn’t want to tell people why she was not participating. She feels that there is a generally a lack of understanding towards people with chronic asthma because they don’t realise that the student could actually die from over exertion, they often think it is just an excuse not to take part in exercise. She says that in 3 years of study she has never once been consulted by a member of staff with regard to her limitations and what adjustments can be made for her. She would like staff to have a greater understanding of her needs but she admits to being quite introvert and not wanting to continually explain why she cannot take part in the tests. She is frustrated by the fact that she thinks her tutors do not see her as having a disability.
Last term H had to take three weeks off and she was told that she had to physically go into the department herself and sign a notification of absence. She also had to go to the teaching services department to obtain consent to have lectures taped and was then only able to have one lecture taped as facilities weren’t available for the others. To make these visits she had to go to the sports science building that is at the top of a hill and a huge flight of steps, she found this very difficult when she was already unwell.
H believes that the sports science building is currently very inaccessible and thinks this could be due to the fact that the department does not expect to have many students with a physical disability choosing to apply to the course. She says that staff need to be more aware of the debilitating effects of chronic asthma but admits she has never met with her disability co-ordinator or talked to her tutors in any depth about her difficulties, because she doesn’t want people to know. On her own she can’t think of any solutions that she feels would adequately support or help her with her studies.