2020 freshers are facing a very different university experience with a mix of face-to-face and digital learning and many social events taking place virtually, but how does this impact disabled students?
Remote learning can present far from ideal studying conditions such as balancing a laptop on your knees, sitting on a chair that aggravates a health condition, trying to concentrate in a busy common room or not having access to a printer.
If you have a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression, a specific learning difficulty like dyslexia or ADHD, or long-term health conditions like diabetes and hypermobility which affects your ability to study, your university will offer support and other reasonable adjustments for you.
But did you know there’s an additional support package available which can provide you with equipment to make studying remotely work better for you?
The Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs for short) provide funding and support which is individually tailored to your specific requirements. Support available can include specialist equipment, non-medical help such as study skills and mentoring support, and travel costs for placements and study trips.
No more working at the kitchen table
Once your funding body has approved your application for DSA, you will be asked to book a needs assessment where an assessor will listen to the challenges you experience and demonstrate software and equipment that can best support your difficulties – find out what happens in a needs assessment here. This is a great chance to say what you think will be most useful, you are the expert here!
Examples of equipment you could get include specialist ergonomic seating, a specialist keyboard and mouse, a height adjustable desk, a laptop with monitor stand and other items such as a printer, recording equipment and an external monitor. Here’s a more detailed list of what is available with this support.
A bespoke learning experience
In terms of the studying itself, there are many software programmes that can offer ways of working that work for you. Your assessor will show you examples of specialist software such as text-to-speech, voice recognition and audio recording, all of which can help you fulfil your academic potential.
All students may get access to a few sessions of study skills advice or counselling, but students with DSA funding can receive specialist one-to-one study skills and mentoring support on a weekly basis throughout their course.
This tailored support and regular contact can be hugely beneficial for students with mental health conditions and specific learning difficulties including ADHD and/or ASD, and can aid organisation, time management and the development of learning strategies.
So, studying off-campus can work well for everyone, with the right support in place.
Get the support you’re entitled to