Students with disabilities
Talk to course providers about your needs
Here are a few things to check with the disability coordinators and advisers at any course providers you're interested in applying to.
- Does the support available meet your individual needs?
- How does the course provider currently support other students with a similar impairment?
- Can anyone help with applications for Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)?
- Will you need to provide proof of your disability – if so, what is required?
- If you find it hard to talk to the course provider, can you nominate someone else on your behalf?
You can get contact details on course provider websites or prospectuses, or on the DSA-QAG website.
The Disability Right's factsheet Funding higher education for disabled students 2015/16 has lots of handy details about, support and finance.
Changes to Disabled Students' Allowances have been announced for new 2015 entry students – read the written ministerial statement.
- Discuss your needs with the course provider before you apply, and check what support is available.
- It's a good idea to visit them too – seeing the facilities for yourself and talking to staff.
- That way you can make sure you'll have everything you need when you arrive.
It is a huge change and takes a lot of getting used to, but I now love living away from home and my new-found independence."
Catherine Alexander; studying BA (Hons) English at Lancaster University
Accessing your course
- Think about the learning objectives, what you'll have to do to get the qualification and what professional requirements you need for your future career.
- Consider structure and materials too – for example some courses require lab work, or art degrees call for extensive visual analysis of paintings.
- Don't be put off by any assumptions about your impairment though – most subjects and professions can be made accessible with the appropriate support, and the Equality Act gives employers a duty to make 'reasonable adjustments' to make sure disabled people aren't at a disadvantage.
I think if you are deaf, you are much more in charge of yourself. You have to take the first steps and that can be pretty challenging because deafness no doubt causes a lack of confidence. But if you build the larger part of the bridge towards other students, work closely together with the people who want to help you, then it is worth it and I can absolutely recommend having the courage and taking the step towards university."
Fred Suter; studying BA (Hons) Modern Languages at University of Southampton
Accessing study materials
- Course providers might have large print, Braille, e-books, audiobooks and digital talking books.
- Online reading software can be useful too – increasing font sizes, changing background colours and converting text to speech.
- Assessments are a regular part of life in higher education – if you need additional support or time, tell the disability coordinator as soon as you've registered for a course.
- Course providers can make other arrangements, ensuring your work can be assessed in the same way as other students – solely on merit.
- For example, a student with a physical impairment might be able to take their exams at home.
Assistance at university
- Whether you choose to live on or off campus, you may need to consider getting additional help and support in your daily life – e.g. for cooking, cleaning or transport.
- Start making arrangements as far in advance as possible to make sure you have what you need.
- In some cases, it can take a year or more to get everything in place.
See what you have to do if you need to arrange communication support.
- Communication support workers, signers or note-takers can help you get the most out of your course.
- To cover the cost of this, you can apply for Disabled Students Allowances (DSAs). We recommend you start applying for it six to nine months before the course begins.