National Union of Students: access challenge

The National Union of Students launched their Access Challenge at the NUS disabled Students Conference in March 2011. The campaign aims to promote the access available at Student Unions and to encourage them to become more accessible.

The Access Challenge is a partnership between the NUS, Attitude is Everything, Disabled Go and Changing Places, where Attitude is Everything offered our skills and expertise in order to help Student Unions across the UK to improve their accessibility for Deaf and disabled students.

The NUS wanted to use our Charter of Best Practice as a guide for venues and encourage those participating in the Access Challenge to sign up. Attitude is Everything staff spoke at the launch of the Access Challenge and there have been a wave of publicity and articles promoting the project and its aims.

Attitude is Everything offer the following services to Student Unions:

  • Assistance in becoming a Charter Venue
  • Undertaking an Access Overview and providing feedback
  • Assistance with implementing change
  • Producing an Action Plan
  • Providing Disability Equality Training
  • Organising Mystery Shopping by Deaf and disabled students

So far Warwick University, Heriot-Watt University and the Manchester Academy have all signed up to the Charter of Best Practice at Bronze level. We are also currently working with Goldsmiths, Birmingham Guild of Students, Cardiff, Portsmouth, Southampton and UCL Universities with a view top bringing them onto the Charter.

We have worked with over 20 Student Unions so far to assist them to become more accessible and plan to work with many more over the remaining 2 years of the project, supported by the incoming Disabled Students Officer, Hannah Paterson. 

“I would really encourage every union in the country to get involved. NUS will award a prize to the union who has made the ‘best effort’ in improving access – I’m really excited to find out how far we can take this campaign and how much difference it will make to students’ lives across the country.”
Rupy Kaur, NUS Disabled Student Officer

"We are delighted to be working with Attitude is Everything to improve the accessibility of our venue and the events we run.  We've been very impressed with the advice and support they've given us and the expert knowledge they have regarding the latest technical equipment.  We're a fairly small SU and they've tailored the actions we need to take to be specific to our union and venue"
James Haywood, President, Goldsmiths Student Union

“University of Manchester Students’ Union and the Manchester Academy are excited to announce that they have recently signed up to the NUS Access Challenge and Attitude is Everything’s Charter of Best Practice. The scheme will see that UMSU meets all the requirements of the Charter at Silver Level in order to become as accessible as it can be. Staff and students at UMSU are looking forward to engaging with the project and starting to make a positive difference for our disabled customers.”
Martin Laws, Commercial Director at University of Manchester Students' Union

“The Access Challenge has really made us think about how accessible our Union is. With guidance from Attitude is Everything, Heriot-Watt University Student Union has implemented new measures to make our entertainments programme more accessible. The changes we have made have been as simple as ensuring we offer a 2 for 1 ticket or moving the handle on our disabled toilet to installing a new viewing platform in our nightclub. The support we have received from Attitude is Everything has been fantastic and with their input we hope to continue to develop as a fully accessible Union for our students.”
Gail Edwards, CEO, Heriot-Watt University Student Union

The staff at the SU are always fantastic about going out of their way to accommodate people and ensure that they have a good experience in our buildings and at our events. However there is always more we can do and there are currently gaps in provision which the Charter of Best Practice has been very useful in highlighting. I am really excited about improving our accessibility in ways that may profoundly affect students’ comfort and safety in the union, and also about creating a culture shift that acknowledges the social model of disability and the incredibly wide definition of ‘accessibility’.
Izzy John, Welfare Officer, University of Warwick Student Union

The Access Challenge is a partnership between the NUS, Attitude is Everything, Disabled Go and Changing Places