‘Make sure you reach out’: Meet Jared Chaytor

Student Disability Services has provided Jared Chaytor with crucial support throughout his studies.

Jarod Chaytor, a partially blind student, stands outside the ClockTower.
Jared Chaytor encourages other students with disabilities to make use of all the opportunities they can.

Jared Chaytor, 22, is in his final year at the University of Auckland, a feat he couldn’t have accomplished without support from Student Disability Services in the Equity Office Te Ara Tautika.

“There’s so much uncertainty involved in having a disability, especially one that changes over time. For me to have to manage that myself – there’s just no way.”

Jared has a degenerative genetic eyesight conditions, retinitis pigmentosa, rod cone dystrophy and nyctalopia (night blindness), which led to his having surgery while he was at college for a retinal tear.

He is studying towards a BSC with a double major in Computer Science and Logic and Computation, plus a Diploma in Languages in Chinese (Mandarin).

Student Disability Services has provided tailored support to Jared throughout his studies, from coaching him to talk to lecturers, to special conditions for exams to assisting with unexpected obstacles.

“Way back in first year, my glasses broke. I didn’t have glasses, and I hit a test. Student Disability Services set me up in a room with a computer and a [CCTV] camera that meant I could zoom in to read the test. They made the process so much less stressful – it was great.”

They made the process so much less stressful – it was great.

Jared Chaytor

Registering with Student Disability Services boosted Jared’s confidence to enrol with the University Health and Counselling Service (UHCS), when he needed support for depression.

The UHCS counsellor picked up Jared’s ADHD and helped him obtain a formal diagnosis, which has enabled him to develop strategies and access medication.

Since he started studying at the University of Auckland in 2017, Jared has received several disability scholarships, which have proved essential.

Jared says it can be challenging to find out about scholarships, so he would encourage school students to ask their careers adviser for assistance, then apply for as many as possible.

In the past year, Jared has been a student representative on the Equity Office’s Disability Programme Advisory Group. He has also offered a disability perspective on Unify – student focus groups for a University review of the Student Services Function.

Jared’s parting advice: “Make sure that you reach out for all of the things that are available, and don’t feel like you’re taking advantage of the system.”