By Danni Watts
Danni Watts is the Chief Editor of TABOU Disability Magazine and talks to us about the purpose of the magazine and why universities need to make sure disabled students can access every part of university life.
I never expected to be a disabled student. After my first month of university I knew something was wrong. I felt exhausted, was dealing with intense pain and was becoming increasingly confused. By the December of my first year of university it became clear things weren’t getting better and I was diagnosed with M.E shortly after I made the decision to suspend my studies for the year.
My inspiration for TABOU came from my personal experience of becoming disabled. I wanted to create a platform which could both promote the work of disabled students and encourage universities to create a more inclusive higher education system. I have found navigating university as a disabled student incredibly challenging at times - even though my university has been broadly supportive I still felt like I had to fight for reasonable adjustments and constantly justify my place at Oxford. I am also aware that I have a high level of privilege being non-disabled for most of my adolescence which meant I didn’t have to deal with the barriers to getting into university which disabled applicants may face. I wanted to use both my experience and relative privilege to help others.
TABOU is now both a print and online magazine. We have 11 editors based in Oxford plus ambassadors from other universities. So far we have talked about topics including sex and disability, autism acceptance month, mental health and university, the access of disabled students into higher education and the intersect of race and disability. It was an amazing achievement to be able to print 400 copies of our first edition and it was really encouraging to see the articles and content open up conversations about disability on university campuses. We are very excited to be launching a YouTube platform to increase awareness about disability and hopefully encourage disabled applicants to apply to top universities.
Disability has long been left out of the conversation about diversity. There are many unique challenges which still face disabled students. Not having access to university buildings, being denied reasonable adjustments or not being given the same opportunities are all things I have heard about through the TABOU network. Nonetheless, university can be a fantastic opportunity for disabled students and it is so important that our higher education institutions are accessible and inclusive places where everyone is given the opportunity to fulfil their potential. We hope that TABOU creates a supportive network of disabled students and really helps people to have a conversation about disability free from shame or judgement.
If you are interested in learning more about TABOU check out our website here www.taboudisabilitymag.co.uk or follow our twitter and instagram @TabouMagazine . We are also looking for university ambassadors and contributors so if you would like to get involved please email firstname.lastname@example.org