Requesting reasonable adjustments – as an undergraduate

The first time I made a request for reasonable adjustments I was 19. Of course, I didn’t call it that. I had invisible impairments, and I didn’t really know what to call what I was asking for. I needed a carpet free bedroom because my asthma and dust allergy were making my life really difficult. I was struggling to cope without taking steroids, and I simply didn’t want to repeat the experience of living with carpet. So I asked the university accommodation service to give me a room without carpet. They found my request bizarre. Then annoying. Then impossible. They didn’t have any rooms without carpet, you see. Except they did. My boyfriend had one. It took several months of cajoling, calling them, showing up to speak with people and explaining the situation again and again and again to so many different people before it got sorted out.

Then one day, as if it had never been a problem at all, they allocated my room. By the time I finished my degree they had discovered a whole block of uncarpeted rooms and offered me a choice of rooms for my final year. They never apologised, though.  They also never acknowledged the impact of spending all that time fighting for what I needed on my studies or my mental health.  They expected me to be grateful, and I was.

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