Economy

Disabled student seeks compensation for USIU lift hurdle

law

Recently, a disabled student in the UK was awarded $1, 000 (Sh126,000) compensation after being trapped in her university lift. PHOTO | FILE

Summary

  • Gathoni Kimani says USIU ignored her pleas to repair lifts in its Science Centre, causing her to arrive late for an end of semester exam in August

A student living with disability has sued United States International University-Africa (USIU) for faulty lifts and stairs that she says cannot be accessed on a wheelchair.

The student, who is pursing a Masters degree in International Relations, says the institution ignored her pleas to repair lifts in its Science Centre, causing her to arrive late for an end of semester exam in August for which she was not granted additional time to complete.

She wants the court to compel the university to pay her unspecified damages and upgrade the lifts and stairways to provide equal access for disabled students.

Recently, a disabled student in the UK was awarded $1, 000 (Sh126,000) compensation after being trapped in her university lift. The recurrent lift breakdowns caused her to miss classes.

In Kenya, Gathoni Kimani reckons that security guards at the Science Centre declined to carry her up the stairs for fear of aggravating her condition. She got assistance from two fellow students who also got late for their exams.

Neither her nor the two women were accorded extra time to complete the exam despite arriving 30 minutes late, which she says was discriminatory.

“The petitioner had alternatively on August 8, 2016, through various emails requested the respondent to fix the elevators or in the alternative, change the exam venue to the ground floor where she could easily access.

“The petitioner who is on crutches, with one of her hands not fully functional and bandaged, was thus grounded and could not access the exam room, which was situated on the 1st Floor.”

“Ms Kimani therefore humbly prays for an order for compensation for the contravention of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the petitioner and for the mental anguish, psychological and physical torture she suffered before and after exams due to the unconstitutional acts of the USIU-A,” Cliff Oduk, the graduate student’s lawyer says.

USIU-A is yet to respond to the suit filed Monday at the Milimani High Court.

Ms Kimani has enjoined the Commission for University Education in the suit.

Mr Oduk says his client had been previously forced to undergo the same distress while writing other exams, and had complained to USIU-A’s management but got no response.

“Her request to be accommodated by the school on that particular day fell on deaf ears despite the fact that during the previous exams, she did her best to fit in and did not seek extra time in sitting her exams despite her injured hand, which is the predominant one,” Mr Oduk added.