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AIBU Or making a bit deal about nothing? My University and My Epilepsy

(29 Posts)
KateSpade Wed 14-Nov-12 22:23:55

Tonight, as part of our course we had to have an evening talking about out previous work placements we had completed. This was a compulsory event, written into the module handbook and had to be there aswell as loosing marks if we didn't turn up.

So, not many physical things set off my Epilepsy, the one thing is Camera Flashes. The room was already bright, but needed a flash, all the lights were bouncing off each other and making me feel slightly funny.

To publicise the event a photographer was there taking pictures, i asked if the photographer could not use the flash, he refused. I left it a few more minutes, took a break and came back, still photographing. Told my Teacher, mentioned the fact it wasn't agreeing with my Epilepsy, she told me i would have to wait outside (the building) until the photographer had finished, and as it was for marketing the even they could not stop taking pictures and it wasn't their fault i had epilepsy.

(N.B - if i had stayed around the flash for a long period of time, it would have been quite likely i would have had a seizure. I am usually alright for around 10 minutes before i start to feel a bit funny. No other lights affect me, it is just lots of repeated camera flashes)

So, i waited outside in the cold November weather for around 40 minutes.

So AIBU to feel that this was a bit of a wank thing to make me do? I feel very patronised and slightly embarrassed if I'm honest.

However i don't know if i am making a big deal out of nothing?

All Opinions welcome!

BlackandGold Wed 14-Nov-12 22:26:28

Couldn't they have taken the photos at the end of the session, then you could have left?

SauvignonBlanche Wed 14-Nov-12 22:28:58

YANBU at all, that's not on, I hope you're going to complain!

LivesInJeans Wed 14-Nov-12 22:29:22

Is there only one room indoors? No other hall or room you could wait in?

I think if flash is needed for a photograph...then flash is needed so they ANBU

Did you know shutting one eye can make enduring strobe induced epilepsy easier?

Gumby Wed 14-Nov-12 22:32:03

Surely on a university campus there are loads of places you could have gone - library, cafe , bar etc

libelulle Wed 14-Nov-12 22:35:35

Not on at all! How many sodding photos did the guy need to take? Fair enough - just about - to say 'could you hang on five minutes, I'm nearly done', but 40 mins? No. I'd be pretty angry if I were you.

Alisvolatpropiis Wed 14-Nov-12 22:35:39

I understand that the photographer needed to use the flash.

Without knowing more about what was actually going on, I'm not sure whether they were being unreasonable to not have the photographer come in at the end rather than throughout.

KateSpade Wed 14-Nov-12 22:36:20

The photographer didn't want to stay till the end, and i had to stay, the building had no other rooms open, as it was later than University usually stays open, so thats why i had to go outside.

LivesInJeans I'm not quite sure what you mean about shutting one eye?, do you mean if you close one eye just before you have a fit, its easier to cope with after. I've never heard that before.

Alisvolatpropiis Wed 14-Nov-12 22:39:57

Er...he was hired to do a particular job wasn't he? Surely he should be flexible? I think they were BU to allow him to dictate to them when he was going to be taking the photos at your expense in that case.


CSIJanner Wed 14-Nov-12 22:44:36

Personally I think the teachers/lecturers comment was outrageous! Not their raultM as if you wished epilepsy on yourself. That in itself you should complain about

KateSpade Wed 14-Nov-12 22:52:28

and my Campus is Purely for Art & Design, so its not a big building, its hard to describe but it was literally outside or stay inside.

Its just made me feel a bit shit, I've never experienced any sort of discrimination, but i felt like i was a child being naughty, the teachers were the ones that told me to go outside, and when i told another teacher what was happening (after she asked) she just said 'oh, okay' and nothing else.

MidoriKobayashi Wed 14-Nov-12 22:52:51

I would complain if I were you; besides the comment your tutor made which was completely inappropriate surely they can't invite a photographer to photograph people at a compulsory seminar without prior notice. Also you had to miss out on the forty minutes of the seminar which presumably means you're disadvantaged when it comes to your course/ assignments etc.

starfishmummy Wed 14-Nov-12 22:57:52

I suspect that you caught her on the "hop" and she didn't stop to.think that they should have made "reasonable adnustments". I think that tomorrow you should write to the uni authorities and ask them to put processes in place so that this can't happen again.

LivesInJeans Wed 14-Nov-12 23:03:37


If you look at something that might trigger a seizure, don’t close your eyes. This could increase your risk of having a seizure. Instead, immediately cover one eye with the palm of your hand and turn away from the trigger. This reduces the number of brain cells that are stimulated and reduces the risk of a seizure happening.

LivesInJeans Wed 14-Nov-12 23:06:25

I have epilepsy and tbh I would say that it's unreasonable to expect them to turn away the photographer. They could have handled it with more consideration however.

Shutting one eye is less obvious than covering one eye but covering an eye is more effective (blacks out the flashes). Works very well for me.

KateSpade Wed 14-Nov-12 23:08:10

Thankyou Jeans Thats very interesting.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 14-Nov-12 23:09:01

YANBU at all.

The photographer was optional - there to publicize the event. You were there because you were integral and it was part of your course. It's very simple. They should not prioritize their advertizing over your health.

CaffeineDeficit Wed 14-Nov-12 23:12:10

I'm a uni lecturer and, from what you've written, I'd say they'd been a bit out of order. I'd suggest e-mailing both your personal tutor and the module leader tomorrow, expressing your disappointment that a) you had to miss out on part of this important event; b) reasonable adjustments weren't made, given your disabling chronic condition. Ask them what steps they envisage taking to make sure that this doesn't become an issue for you again during the rest of your course, or for future students taking the same module.

If you don't get a decent reply, then you might want to enlist support from either your SU or your uni's equal opps/disability officer, and then take it to the head of your year for your course. You definitely have a right, under the DDA, to reasonable adjustments to enable you to access the course content. Marketing should be a secondary consideration. Good luck!

OxyMoron Wed 14-Nov-12 23:18:35

Failure to make reasonable adjustments, imo (as per DDA, equality act). YANBU

KateSpade Wed 14-Nov-12 23:19:50

Thankyou very much caffine all that makes a lot of sense, however my module leader, head of year and personal Tutor are the same person, who is the person that made me go outside.

However i have found a faculty liaison officer so i shall speak to her tomorrow.

LivesInJeans Wed 14-Nov-12 23:28:48

Is it worth talking to your tutor first? She may have been caught on the hop as said earlier...might have been stressed and not responded at all appropriately. She might have had chance to reflect and be open to discussion of the way forward including an apology.

If I had done this (i get pretty stressed/focused, organising big dos) I'd be mortified and glad to have a chance first to apologise.

GeordieCherry Wed 14-Nov-12 23:31:27

Epilepsy is covered by the Equality Act. You could kick up a stink if you want

creamteas Wed 14-Nov-12 23:58:49

Most unis have a student disability unit. You should try them as well.

At my uni, this sort of attitude displayed by staff would be taken very seriously, and it would be made clear that this type of behaviour was not acceptable.

BookFairy Thu 15-Nov-12 00:08:05

I'm shock at this. YANBU.

I have epilepsy (though not photosensitive) and would have been quite upset. Do they know you have epilepsy? Have you located your Student Support/Disability Team at Student Services? I'd advise against emailing yourself if your tutor is the big name in your dept. Student Support would deal with this in an appropriate manner.

I had some beef with my uni dept. over issues with my epilepsy. The Student Support Team sorted it out. This meant that there was never any issues between myself and the tutors personally, IYSWIM.

I think it's v poor they didn't consider anyone may be affected by continual flashes from a camera and dealt with the situation so inappropriately. Obviously they're due an update in their disability equality training!

ZebraOwl Thu 15-Nov-12 00:54:27

Oh how pants sad

I think they handled it badly: surely the photographer didn't need to be taking pictures of the whole thing?

Were you informed in advance there would be a photographer there? (Am assuming not as then you'd presumably have contacted your Tutor to make them aware of the potential issue...) There are plenty of people who simply wouldn't be happy to appear in photos & I think they need consent to use your images in marketing stuff even if you're an adult so they should've sorted that regardless.

While I understand the photographer needing the flash to get The Best Possible Images I'm pretty sure they'd've managed to get Good Enough Pictures without given they'd be digital images.

Their failure to accommodate you can probably be considered as contravening the Equality Act & thus being illegal as well as just Pants. Definitely worth contacting the Disability Support bods to elicit their help & support dealing with this. They need to know they not only shouldn't have done this in the first place but also that they can't do it again: I know some people who can't tolerate a single camera flash much less 10 minutes of them so they'd've been away fitting from the off!

Am actually really quite shocked by this. And that's coming from someone who was told they were essentially horribly selfish for not wanting to leave at the end of my first term & restart her degree the next year because their seizures were distressing for other people & disruptive to their studies...

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