By Stevie Buckley
During my time in NUI Galway, I have realised that there are some things that the University is lacking. However, instead of investing in these facilities, the University has been embroiled in controversy in the past over its charity throwing away money which could be used in these important services and facilities. In this article, I would like to skim through a few services I believe would be beneficial to the university and its students.
The first facility I would like to see put in place is a sensory room for those with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), sensory processing disorder (SPD) and others who feel they would benefit from it. People with ASDs and SPD can easily become overwhelmed by things such as the light levels in lecture halls and the noise in what seems like every seating area in the University. A sensory room would give these people time to relax and unwind in a place where they aren’t bombarded with loud sounds and bright lights. The premise of this room would be a quiet place with sensory-friendly lighting and maybe a bit of soft instrumental music. The University could even add in a few weighted blankets for those who want them! Of course, people with hangovers after a night out could potentially use it, as long as they’re quiet, respectful and don’t spend the time on their phones!
The next facility I would like to see in the University is the introduction of more accessible toilets, preferably without the assistance cables tied up or cut. As a person with a disability, I find it hard to struggle from the end of the concourse to the middle just so I can use a toilet. I have only found two accessible toilets in the arts/science building, which is the building I’m most often in. Also, it seems to be a general trend around the college that able-bodied people use the accessible toilets to get changed/do makeup/skip the queue in the toilets. I understand that not all disabilities are visible but if you see people running out of accessible toilets, please spare a thought for us disabled people who just spent ten minutes waiting to do a pee.
I would like to see more seating on the concourse as well. I often find myself sitting on the floor before lectures. It’s hard for me to get up from the floor, especially on the days I’m dependent on a cane, but sitting down is something I need to do or else I’ll faint. I remember the Students’ Union having a petition for more seating on the concourse a few years ago, but it seems like the only seating we got from that was The Hub Central, which doesn’t cut it for me when I have a lecture at the other end of the concourse.
Another thing we need is more accessibility infrastructure in the University in general. When I have a bad day, I find it hard to walk, and especially hard to ascend and descend steps. However, the only way to get into the arts/science building without climbing steps seems to be to go the whole way around the library and use the ramp there. Whenever I have a 9 am lecture I need to climb those steps because if I go around the library I will be late, because I just about have enough time between when my train gets in and when lectures start to get from the train station to my lecture hall.
These are some of the facilities I think NUI Galway really needs. I hope that the University will work with the Students’ Union in order to provide some of these facilities. I would like the University to realise that it is hard for a lot of disabled students to go to university and that there are ways to make it easier for these students.