Accessibility and Education

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My mum always wanted to give me a change in getting an education. She didn’t have that chance herself. What she knows, she self-taught herself. Both my parents left school at age 14, which was a common thing to do back then. However, when my mum went to sign me up to the mainstream school, they didn’t want me as a student because I was a wheelchair user.

The person who was the head of school at the time told my mum that she should take me to a special needs school. Luckily for me, my mum put her foot down, and they had to accept me as a student. I was able to study the same material as my classmates and in the same way they did. Even if later on, they found out I was dyslexic.

They didn’t have a bathroom wide enough for my wheelchair to fit into the bathroom. The teachers would undress me outside the bathroom, and kids would stare at me naked. As I got older, my own dad had to come to school and built me an accessible toilet for me to use. It took them years to build a simple ramp to access the break area, so I ate in my class.

For any concerts or activity that took place in the hall, They had to put in a regular chair, and a few men would carry me up the stairs, or I couldn’t take part. Since they didn’t want to install a lift. When it came to secondary school, there are two government school or a church school in Gozo.

The only school that had an elevator and somewhat accessible, so I had no choice but to go there. I was lucky that by the time the bullying became unbearable, the government school had a lift so I could move schools. A few months ago, I applied for the exam the government does if you want to have a career in public services or, in other words, governmental jobs.

I applied, and last month they sent the go-ahead email in the same email they wrote accessibly for everyone. However, when I showed up to do my exam, they didn’t have a desk that my wheelchair could fit under. This goes to show that even if years have passed and the word accessible is used more. Having to face the same issues years shows me that things didn’t change since the exam took place in a school.

Alex

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