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UBC Reports | Vol. 51 | No. 5 | May 5, 2005

Disability No Disadvantage, Says Poli Sci Grad

By Brenda Austin

An internship at the B.C. Legislature next January will provide Justin Cheng invaluable experience. An honours graduate in political science, he will spend half his time working for an MLA and the other half working within a government ministry.

His success in the political science program is due partly to his positive attitude and partly to the excellent practical arrangements made for him by UBC’s Access and Diversity Centre.

“I want to do something good in life and I have to take the initiative,” he says. “I haven’t found a disabilitiy to be a disadvantage. I do talk a bit slower and it’s harder for me to speak, but I find people listen more closely then. I’m grateful for research into disabilities and for the accommodations made at UBC.”

Cheng has mild cerebral palsy which affects how he walks and talks. He recommends other students with a disability get in touch with the Access and Diversity Centre as soon as they know they want to study at UBC.

“Get it over with,” he says. “Provide the documentation necessary from your doctor, speech pathologist and psychiatrist and you will find the centre is able to arrange accommodations for you.”

Cheng used a computer for exams, was allowed to sit for them outside the classroom and was given time and a half to finish. He found his undergraduate years manageable with this kind of support and very fulfilling because of his long-time interest in political issues and democratic participation.

Russian literature and non-fiction books on the moral history of the 20th century are favourites with Cheng in his spare time. His other hobby is debating, which over the past three years has taught him how to articulate his arguments.

He will take an MA in political science at UBC after his internship and foresees a potential career in academia.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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