A disabled student, denied the right to access the stage to receive a symbolic handshake in his graduation ceremony, has been awarded £4,000 for injury to feelings against Canterbury Christ Church University.
In one of the first higher education cases under the education provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to be decided in court, the landmark ruling was supported by the Disability Rights Commission.
Craig Potter, 28, from Kent, and a wheelchair user, graduated in 2004 at a ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral. While other students were able to receive a handshake on the dais from the Chairman of Governors, Craig had to be content with a mere greeting at the bottom of the steps instead because no ramp had been provided to allow access to the stage. Craig Potter said:
I was not treated on equal terms with my peers. I wanted to go up on that stage at Canterbury Cathedral like everyone else during my graduation and get my symbolic handshake from the Chair of Governors.
The judge agreed that this would have been possible and the University’s failure to provide temporary ramps meant they discriminated against me as a disabled person. I am very pleased and feel vindicated by this result.
Extracted from Spring 2007 Access By Design
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