#AccessDeniedDiaries by Deborah

I am a student at Wintec in Hamilton. One of the teaching staff was very abusive. He didn't want a mobility-challenged student in his class.

It got so bad that I went to police and reported it. Wintec found evidence of another attack and covered it up. They told the police I had lied. Their logic was that the event they found didn't match the report I had given. This left me with no protection.

Because I went to the police, the abusive Wintec teacher countered with a complaint about me. His complaint was centred around me being hearing impaired. I had asked that captions be turned on for Zoom classes. This was not done. So I asked for an interpreter. They decided that was a debate.

This continued for a while until I was asked to meet with management. Which I did. An agreement was made, only to be broken within the first three hours!

During this time, the abuse had got worse. It was so bad that other students were also complaining. I got so sick of it that I tried contacting the Human Rights Commission (HRC). After two weeks of calling and emailing the HRC I still had not heard back.

In response to me going to the HRC, the abusive teacher lodged a second complaint against me. I informed Wintec management that I would not be attending another meeting, as it involved the same manager who had covered up the abuse. The Wintec manager became aggressive and claimed he would be making a final decision on the Friday, even though I was in the process of handing information over to the HRC. Four times I said NO. The manager just became more aggressive. I did send the HRC video of that one event, pointing out that this manager had interfered with my support and was trying to force me to do something dangerous. I have other video documentation as well, to prove what I am saying is the truth.

Although I fully expect to be expelled for refusing to respect someone who has been abusing me, and those who covered up the abuse, I have still not heard back from Wintec. It is now only two weeks until the end of semester. All the abuse and messing around means I now have no chance of passing. I have failed my education and I'm scared to try again. This experience has also worsened my post-traumatic stress disorder and wasted a lot of money.

The discriminating abusers win.

New access laws should ensure that education is safe and accessible for all. I should be able to get the accessibility help I need, so I can learn like everyone else. I should also be allowed to use New Zealand Sign Language to communicate. And abusers shouldn't be permitted to investigate themselves!



This is a story about the barriers many face. We're sharing it because we want a law that puts accessibility at the heart of an inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.

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