Student says her needs were ‘pushed aside’

STUDENT: Cassandra Wright is profoundly deaf. Picture: ANDI YU
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A STUDENT at La Trobe University’s Bendigo campus says she has suffered “institutional discrimination” because of inadequate support for her needs as a deaf person.

Cassandra Wright, 33, is in the final semester of aBachelor of Arts degree majoring in sociology and history but says she is unable to complete her studies.

Shepulled out of two history subjectsbecause she could not follow teachinggiven via video conference.

“There has been a definite shift away from face to face classes,” Ms Wright said.

Ms Wrightrelies heavily on face-to-face communication because she has tolip-read, which she says is too difficult on video.

Shesigned up to have her lectures transcribed, but found there was a four-day delay meaningshe fellbehind.

Ms Wright sent emails to her lecturers and to the university’s Equality and Diversity centre, but did not receive the support she hoped for.

“I’m tired of the fact that I can just be pushed aside in terms of my needs. I don’t want any special favours, I just want equal footing,” shesaid.

“I find La Trobe University to besomewhat hostile in the sense that there’s not adequate support for people in my situation.

“I don’t feel welcome at my local university anymore.”

Ms Wright said the increasingmove towards online learning meant thoseneeding face-to-face tuition were being left behind.

She does not begrudge teaching staff for not providing adequate support but said they were unable tobecause of pay and time constraints.

La Trobe University Bendigo campus head Rob Stephenson said the university could not comment on any student’s personal circumstances but that the institution was “strongly committed to supporting students with a disability”.

“We currently have more than 1000 students with a disability across the university who receive ongoing support,” he said.

“Supports are tailored to the specific requirements of each student.

“We provide a range of services including note-taking, Auslan interpreting, real-time captioning, lecture transcripts, additional time in examinations and extensions on assignments.”

Mr Stephenson said the provision of online learning and “flexible delivery modes” enabled students to participate whopreviously would have been excluded.

“When these modes of delivery provide difficulties for students we have a commitment to providing alternative access to this material via lecture transcripts, real time captioning, note-takers and interpreting services.

“In addition many lecturers meet one-on-one with students to ensure they don’t miss any important content. There are many more flexible options that are available in supporting disadvantaged students.

“While there is some material delivered remotely, the university is moving away from non-facilitated video-conferences. In other words, students will be in the room for important tutorials and workshops.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.