This week Manchester University announced that they will be introducing a different way of clapping. Instead of applause during debates etc. they will be using the British Sign Language sign for applause, which is hand waving or as the news put it, ‘jazz hands’. This is a measure being put in place for those students who struggle with noise.
My personal opinion, when I read this, was a big (dare I say it) round of applause to Manchester University. This seemingly small step is actually a massive step towards being inclusive and making life that little bit easier for those autistic students, who have Sensory Processing Difficulties, and can cope with University but struggle with the noise. I just so happened to voice this opinion in the form of a comment on a newspaper’s facebook site and the answers I received were worrying to say the least.
I can understand the response to the news papers clickbait headline which used the words “Jazz hands” being slightly negative. The news paper itself managed to ridicule what the university were doing in that one sentence so will have evoked a slightly negative reaction. What I can’t understand, though, is the comments from people who are “fed up of being inclusive”. The comments from people saying that if these students cannot cope with the noise they shouldn’t be there and the comments making reference to those students that can’t cope with the noise, not being as worthy as the rest of us to have a job in the future.
I was called a snowflake for my opinion and for saying that if the university had moved lectures downstairs for a student in a wheelchair, would there also have been uproar.
It saddens me greatly that comments were being made about this generation being bubble wrapped and it wouldn’t have happened in the war. No it wouldn’t. In the First World War, people were shot it they had meltdowns and wouldn’t run towards enemy fire. In the Second World War, people diagnosed as having aspergers were killed in gas chambers. Thank goodness things have changed since then.
So here I stand, seemingly in the minority, thinking how hard it is for people to change their thinking. Is changing the way students at Manchester University clap going to harm anyone? Does it affect any of the general public making comments on the article? Why are people complaining when a place of education are trying to educate others about people’s needs? How are we living in such an intolerant and unchanging world, where people aren’t willing to adapt slightly to include those in society, and instead ridicule those that try to help?
Maybe Manchester University aren’t doing exactly the right thing. Maybe it’s not actually what all the students want or need, but what they are doing is thinking about how they could help and then doing something. This has to be a good thing. If we all did something we might just help.
At least, if nothing else comes of this, the next generation of workers graduating from Manchester University may be a little more inclusive, if not, at least tolerant of others needs. If introducing this new way of clapping does actually help one student access a University course more easily, then Manchester University are, in my opinion doing the right thing.
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