A Reflection on Two Different Processes of University Admission. Option To Explore
Muhammad Sajjad Haider, Vehari, Punjab-Pakistan
I witnessed the horrible face of normalcy and felt disability as a convicted phenomenon in its hands when I applied for a higher degree and got refusal on disability related reasons and normalcy oriented barriers in my understanding. I am quite clear at the moment that I am sharing this writing not just on my personal deprivation rather than the objective of this writing is to portray the face of normalcy and its created barriers which I have came across during this tiny experience. In my mind there is just a single objective; and that is to invite the attention of my people that there are also other avenues of thinking out of the chamber in which we are suffocating and surviving even. This writing would be based upon my experience; firstly, which I got at another country and secondly, I experienced at my own context, considering the one of the dimension of knowledge as to highlight the difference to inform the audience about some newer phenomenology. Keeping the ethical issues in consideration, the value of anonymity would be kept in mind during whole of the writing to the maximum extent especially, talking about the local context. Stressing again, the purpose of this writing would be at least to introduce the direction for the reforms in the area of disability education. In addition to that in utilization of opportunity for this writing, my focus was also on introduction and promotion of internationally popular genre of ‘Disability Experience’ just like the Gender Experience’ with large readership at world level.
Firstly, when applied for my desired degree I saw that there was no option for entering the name of the university from where I obtained my previous degree. At that time I was not so much worried as I thought that there would be some facilitation center and the problem would be solved very easily. But very soon I felt that there was no such option and I have to make my individual effort for my desired objective. Anyhow, I was able to submit my application after having some guideline from inside of the office. After this, scenic view of the story was that I need a writer in case of long writing on the reason for my disability. I was expecting that I would be contacted after having a look on my application. But when I felt the attitude of alienation for my issue I myself started making contact. I dialed at given telephone numbers on concerned web page but found no response at that time. Then, I strived more and found some relevant official. Though, he was sufficiently helpful to me but he restricted my choice in this regard. And, everything was going good and I was about to leave my place for admission test when I received a message from the university that I was not eligible for my desired degree. I was quite astonished at that moment the university authority was taking different positions for my rejection comprising my over age factor, my low academic achievement and irrelevance of my previous degree. At this, very soon I developed my understanding that it was just an individuality-based opinions rather than having some disability management system in the background. I felt this scenic view as the exposed face of normalcy appeared before me like some horrible phantom. Connecting the view with the Marxist analysis, I found the disability at the lowermost place to be said as in the role of begging and saw the other side at the sublime level of power. Besides this at that moment my sensing the situation was perhaps, very near to the inducement for going to some personal power-based relationship instead of some logical lawful response.
While at the other side sharing about the other context, I got admission at a world –Class University 46th position in the world ranking (The University of Queensland) with same credential which I am having at this moment. When, I was leaving for that country for my study, the Disability Advisor of the university contacted me for determining the level of my special needs for that study. I asked her whether I should attach the government-recognized certificate declaring the nature of my disability to serve the purpose of authentication. She said, “No need for that just send me a few lines describing your disability signed by any psychologist. I was so much astonished at this, on the reason that I had watched the cruel clutches of normalcy for whole of my life at my own context and had accepted as undying phenomenon and along with that my mind was not in a state of acceptance for absence of such a great gremlin. Anyhow, after stepping down at that land I just experienced the judicious principles of convenience, facilitation, accommodation and adjustment. For the first time I got the meaning of inclusion over there.
Soon after my arrival to my university, my “Access Plan” was developed and the procedure for which was one to one negotiation on a table. The question to me was “what should the university do for your convenient study”. Definitely, I had no answer because it was quite new for me. Very slowly, they kept on talking, restored my confidence in this way, and offered me “in how much semesters your study plan to be broken down, so that you could enjoy more convenience”. On that question, I immediately replied that I am from such a land where bravery is the most common belief of the people like me. At this, I got reply that the bravery had nothing to do with the matter. That reply not only compelled me to think on different lines, but also pushed me into the ocean of alternative dimensions knowledge and in my further studies I decided to unpack the mystery before me. Anyway, my “Access Plan” had been prepared and implemented in result of which my study plan had been broken into more semester than usual. A residence was booked for my family, near to the campus. My family was shifted to Australia also amazingly as the part of the mentioned Access Plan. And quite surprisingly, when I suggested before the advisor as my wife to be my Carer, she candidly said that the university would pay her as according to the law of the land. I just said no worries but I need my wife just here. In fact at that time the mystery emerged at that time in my mind was about the foundational element of all that system. Hence, I deliberately got my study plan designed in such a manner that I could be able to grasp the internal thought. For the said purpose, I decided to jump in the pool of policies and administrative protocols of the university by opting a research project with the methodology of Policy Analysis.
Very soon, I arrived at the conclusion that the basic idea behind all this facilitation was the recognition of the principle of ‘Non-discrimination’ at national level and acceptance of the idea of reasonableness in the procedure of disability management. The process of learning built my perception on the principle of Reasonable Adjustment that an individual with disability was negotiated on to be provided facilities for her/his successful education or employment, up to the level of Unjustifiable Hardships. On being aware of the fact, I made a conscious effort to explore the limit of the mentioned principles. But, surprisingly, I could not be able to know the expansion of the stated facilitation domain, erected on revealed philosophies. Then, I kept on thinking what had actually happened and how that nation had fostered the mechanism for adjustment of the people with diverse needs. Reviewing the literature, I came across Oliver (2009) who inspired me for the idea of normalcy and soon I adopted the thought as my permanent lens to see the phenomenology of disability. In fact, at that land, that nation, in my view, crushed down normalcy-based social trends by identifying them as the discrimination against disability. Under the umbrella of bigger international documents, they as the nation built a fortification against normalcy, sought power from the higher levels and wired to the lower level formations. Not only for disability, they adopted diversity paradigm for all kinds diverse backgrounds.
On the other hand, we as the nation let the normalcy or discrimination-based philosophies grow at their own passage. Having a long history of colonialism, we continued with medical model in the area of disability, consequent upon which, the narrative based on the ‘search for disability inside the bodies’ was developed. In an environment of such discourses, the attitudes of the people of policy and practice were established and along with this, unfortunately, no effort to change the narrative around disability was made. In my view, my story is just a blurred reflection of the bigger picture. The detailed snapshots would definitely be able to find out more facts in this regard. Without any disciplined probe, it would be quit difficult to know, how many similar stories would be going on continuously on different theaters. No body knows the voices which would be silenced, unheard. And, importantly, in my opinion, the collective volume of such discrimination forms the embodiment of normalcy as Michalko and Titchkosky (2009) have elaborated this epithet is continuously exploiting the disability.
The only way to rescue the disability from the conviction of normalcy is to change the narrative around disability. In the light of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, (UNCRPD, 2006) the steps to be taken to decolonize the concept of disability. The structural changes in consistent with the idea of reasonableness, to be introduced. Modern legislation ensuring the disability rights, seeking power from the relevant clauses of the constitution of the country, to be effectuated. I am quite clear at the moment that such steps would not only enhance the national respect but also increase the opportunities of life for millions of people with disabilities.
Michalko, R., & Titchkosky, T. (Eds.). (2009). Rethinking normalcy: A disability studies reader. Canadian Scholars’ Press.
Oliver, M. (2009). Understanding disability: From theory to practice. Macmillan International Higher Education.