18th July 2000

 

‘MILLION-TO-ONE’ STUDENT DEFIES THE ODDS

 

Amazing Hull student Karl Dean will graduate with a degree in computing tomorrow despite having cerebral palsy.

 

He is believed to be the first disabled student in Britain to achieve a degree using a so-called ‘head-pointer' to complete his work.

 

The 27-year-old,  who was starved of oxygen at birth and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy aged eight months, communicates by laboriously typing out 12 words a minute on a specially adapted computer.

 

Despite his handicap Karl will graduate with an honours degree in Computing from the University of Lincolnshire & Humberside at a ceremony to be held tomorrow afternoon (2.15pm) at Hull City Hall.

 

Karl explained how, after leaving Frederick Holmes Special School in Hull with nothing at the age of 16, he was so keen to succeed that he secured a place at Wilberforce College and was eventually accepted at the university.

 

“I enrolled on the HND in Computing in 1994, following a timetable of lectures and seminars specially arranged around me,” said Karl. “Staff had to ensure that all my classes took place on the ground floor as the regulations covering the listed buildings at the university do not allow the installation of lifts.

 

“I decided to try to complete my final year in just one year along with the other students. This presented me with a real challenge as I had to work harder than ever just to keep up!

 

“I was allowed double time to sit my exams because of my typing difficulties - each three-hour exam took all day for me. And I use a lot of energy when I am typing, so my hair and T-shirt would be soaked with sweat at the end of the each paper.

 

“The final year was the biggest challenge of my life, but despite all the problems I actually kept up with the able-bodied students. Twelve years ago the odds against me going to university would have been a million to one. Everyone can achieve something in life, but you have to work hard to reach your goal.”

 

Photographers are welcome at the graduation ceremony - Wednesday 19th July, 2.15pm, Hull City Hall. For more information contact Jez Ashberry, Press and Media Relations Manager, University of Lincolnshire & Humberside (01522 886042).