Anni Kyröläinen is a 25-year-old student of political science and HYY's first accessibility tutor in the autumn of 2015. Anni gives tips, help and peer support for disabled new students.
Accessibility tutoring complements student tutoring and facilitates the accessible journey of disabled students both to lectures and the student community.
“When I came to the university in an electric wheelchair, it was mainly my own responsibility to find accessible routes and practices. Other people don’t have experience on how to move around in a wheelchair, and often people aren’t able to give you advice on where the lifts or disabled toilets are. My aim is that others don’t have to go through the same hassle and difficulties when studies begin – from getting around the university to social life.”
”Student parties are often in inaccessible facilities. I know a person who’s finishing the Master's thesis and has never attended a student party. It is difficult to join a group when you cannot even get to party facilities or events. Networking is very important in nearly every field, and in parties you get to know people who can help you to find a job.”
According to Kyröläinen, most people never think of matters from the perspective of the disabled. This also makes it unnecessarily difficult to join the academic community.
”When I didn’t know my fellow students yet, it was difficult to join freshman events and ask strangers for help to move around. After meeting new people, I was surprised how much people offer help and how easy everything is. It’s important to find friends who can support you in difficult situations.”
Kyröläinen encourages new students to ask for help if a lecture hall or a party location is not accessible. People are usually happy to help.
”At the beginning of studies, you should not have to miss out on events where people get to know each other. After people have formed their groups of friends, it is harder to join. When you go to the first parties, it may be useful to bring a friend with you. In this way, you can get to know others and finally ask your new acquaintances to help you to move around.”
Kyröläinen has faced hardly any discrimination at the university. On the contrary, people are helpful.
”When you come to a challenging environment in a wheelchair, you have to be more social than usual in order to really get involved. This is, of course, unfortunate but luckily also something that you can learn.”
In 2015, HYY is conducting an accessibility review at the New Student House with Kynnys association.
”I hope that the review leads to concrete changes and renovation, as well as an accessible entrance to the services office, for example. A manual wheelchair is already available in the festive hall Alina, which helps you to move around there at parties.”
Get in touch with Anni or tell about her to other freshmen: firstname.lastname@example.org