The story is somewhat pathetic. Following the exchange in which someone in Registry said they'd issue me a card as soon as I'd paid my fees, and I said "Um, I have paid my fees", I was told on Thurs 4th Feb that they were going to print a card and send it to me. I'd heard nothing about this since. Today my friend Christine told me about a lecture tomorrow at King's, which we should try to go to. I figured that going to another university without ID was asking for trouble and went to the My Birkbeck helpdesk to see whether a) the card had been printed and posted or whether b) it was sitting there waiting for me to pick it up. It turned out that the answer was c) none of the above - but the person I saw was able to simply print me off a card there and then! Grrr - if only I'd tried that last week! (I didn't know they had the equipment to print ID cards at the helpdesk. I thought the machine was secreted somewhere within the Registry).
So I can now legitimately go to UCL for meetings there, and have physical access to Birkbeck library. Hooray.
Things that I have done:
- Accepted the offer of a place from the department.
- Chased up enrollment paperwork from the Registry.
- Found it was for a full-time place; had to get it corrected to part-time.
- Chased the paperwork up again when it failed to materialise.
- Accepted the offer of a place from the Registry. (Yes, you have to accept the place twice. I don't know why.)
- Paid my fees.
- Applied for Disabled Student's Allowance.
- Exchanged multiple letters & phone calls with Student Finance England.
- Eventually gave up and got Mark (Disability Service Manager) to shout at Student Finance England.
- Arranged an Assessment of Needs.
- Got my Individual Student Support Agreement (ISSA) up to date.
- Had ISSA circulated to the appropriate people within the department.
- Talked to Philip and Katherine (my supervisors) about DSA funding and what I might need.
- Asked Philip to prod whoever in the department organises office space, three or four times. (He is as sick of it as I am.)
- Sent an email to the Disability Office about getting access to the lifts in the UCL building where we have meetings.
- Gone to the Apple Store to stroke shiny, shiny computers.
- Moaned at them about the lack of chairs for disabled customers. (I intimidated them enough that a chair with a back was found.)
- Sent an email to the Disability Office about a broken "special" chair (with lumbar support) which keeps turning up in my lecture room.
- Got student card!!!
- Gone to three meetings with external speakers and had to ask each one individually for permission to record their lecture (because no matter what the ISSA says, you can't trust anyone who isn't your actual supervisor to remember to do things like that for you like they're theoretically supposed to).
- Talked to Dave the IT guy about my needs for a computer at home.
- Got a locker (extremely difficult to obtain unless you have a disability that makes it hard for you to carry stuff).
- Checked that I am still registered for library Access Support.
Honestly! My disability stuff causes lack of energy and lack of motivation - so why do I have to spend so much of my time and energy on these basic arrangements? Someone without disabilities would simply have needed to do items 1-7 and 20 (and maybe 15) on the list (and only 1, 5-7 and 20 if lucky). And it's not even as though that's the end...
Things I still need to do:
- Go to Assessment of Needs, this Friday at 4.30pm.
- Wait for Assessment of Needs report.
- Choose a DSA provider from the three quotes given.
- Wait for them to deliver the equipment. Expect this to take 28 days-10 weeks, so get on with everything else in the meantime.
- Continue to go to lectures with external speakers and ask them if I can record the lecture. Maybe try to get this arranged by email in advance to avoid stress on the day.
- Continue to prod Birkbeck's Disability Office into liaising with UCL's Disability Office and more importantly UCL's Estates division, so that some acceptable solution to the lifts requiring a UCL swipe card issue can be found.
- Continue to get Philip to prod whoever is in charge of office space until I actually have a space in the Postgraduate Students' Office. (And it had better be room 627 with everyone else I already know, not some room off in Crystallography where I don't know anyone).
- Get the department/Disability Office/whoever to kick Estates until a "special" chair is found which can permanently live in the Postgraduate Students' Office.
- Move into office. Do a dance of joy.
- Get a library card for UCL library.
- Register with UCL library Access Support (which is actually very good even for external users, I met the guy in charge last summer).
- Figure out what the hell I am going to do about the compulsory Symposium that's happening on 17th and 18th June, which is going to cause Issues because of having three talks in a row with no gaps between. (I have to sit at the front so I can record the lectures, but I also can't sit in one place for more than about an hour, and it's 2h 15 min. No idea what the hell I can do to avoid being in severe discomfort/pain without getting up between each talk and annoying everyone else. My ISSA says it's up to the department to make arrangements for stuff they organise, but unless I explicitly tell them they won't even realise it's a problem.)
- Figure out what I'm going to do about the fact the Symposium starts at 9.55 am and that's a time which Does Not Exist.
- Claim back the (at a guess) £400 in taxi fares that Student Finance England owe me.
- Die of shock that everything is organised.
- Actually start work on my project!