If you’ve ever used the stairlifts in Dunelm House, or seen them in use, you’ll understand straight away why we need to replace them. They’re temperamental, unsuitable, and constantly break, meaning that our building, which should be accessible to all students, simply isn’t. But not for much longer!
Over the summer, we’re finally getting new lifts installed, which will be fit for purpose and allow all levels of our building to be accessible. It’s something I have been asking of the University since I first started my role in July 2018, and also something student leaders have been asking for long before I began.
Unfortunately, as the University owns the SU’s building (Dunelm House), we’ve been put in the difficult position of wanting to make sure our events are accessible to all students, but being limited by the University’s lack of action. The need for new lifts has become even more essential since the new lecture theatre was built in the SU. I repeatedly raised this point to the University, but was told students with access needs wouldn’t be timetabled into that room. This simply wasn’t a strong enough response, because accessibility needs aren’t always apparent at the beginning of the year when timetabling takes place, and adjusting the timetable is only a temporary solution to a long term problem.
Working with our Students with Disabilities Association, the Disability Support Office and Sam Dale (Director of Student Support and Wellbeing), we have researched and selected the best replacement options and work to replace the old lifts will begin soon.
While the work takes place, unfortunately some of our stairlifts will be out of commission. The works are due to take place between 12 and 31 July. We hope that this timing will cause minimal disruption, but if you require more details as to which parts of our building will be inaccessible during this time, please contact email@example.com.
Reliable stairlifts are a bare minimum standard for accessibility, and it is incredibly poor that the SU building has fallen short of this standard for so long. I’m pleased, however, that the University has finally listened to our concerns, and I hope that this small step may pave the way for future developments in making Durham a more accessible place both for study and also participation in the wider student experience.