Meet Sophie Paul, your Disability Student Officer

If you didn’t know, it’s Disability History Month 18 Nov – 18 Dec, so I wanted to take this time to properly introduce myself.

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Hi everyone! If you didn't know, it's 18th November–18th December, so I wanted to take this time to properly introduce myself.

Who am I?

I'm in my third year studying Sociology, and I'm really excited to have the opportunity to represent disabled students this year! I have been blind from birth, having anophthalmia (means my left eye didn't develop) and microphthalmia (means my right eye is underdeveloped). As most disabled people will know, self advocacy is really important, and having to do this so often whilst growing up has given me a passion for disability activism and making things better for others. This has led me to volunteer for multiple charities in my free time, including Attitude is Everything, Mind and ChildLine.

What do I want to achieve as Student Officer for Disabilities?

One of the most important things to me is that I listen to what students want and need. I'm only one person, and the diversity amongst disabilities and disabled people means that I can make the most amount of change through engaging with the disabled student community as a whole. Support networks are really important, which is why I want to make disabled students feel as though they are part of a community at Derby. I recently ran a meetup as part of this, and would be open to doing more in the future. Despite disabled people being one of the largest minority groups, there is still a lot of stigma and people who don't feel like they belong. It's for this reason that disability visibility is so important, because disability isn't a competition of whose condition is more serious, because everyone deserves to be seen and represented.

Ensuring equal access across the university is one of my biggest priorities. Whether this involves working with others to address accessibility of wider university issues such as the buses, or more disability related issues such as providing accessibility information for events, I want Derby to be as inclusive as it can be. I believe this can be done through educating staff on disability by providing information, as well as on more of a student level through integrating disability awareness into society training. I want to spend my time this year focusing on both the academic and social sides of uni life, because all disabled students deserve equal access to every opportunity that their non-disabled peers have.

Three fun facts about me

  1. At different points over the last few years, I've had blue, purple and green in my hair, but I think the green is here to stay for a while now.
  2. In my free time, you'll more often than not find me at a gig, and my favourite bands are Tonight Alive, Deaf Havana, Beartooth, Holding Absence and Paramore.
  3. My favourite food is chocolate, and if it was possible to live just off of that, then I happily would.

I always want to hear your ideas and feedback, so you're always welcome to email me on officer.disabilities@derbyunion.co.uk

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