Learning for disabled people

Being disabled doesn’t mean you can’t go to university or college or that your needs won’t be met.

If you have a disability you need to be aware of and think about a few things.

College and University

Going to university or college means trying your hand at independence for three or four years. You will meet lots of new people, experience new places and develop skills and knowledge that will increase your chances of finding work when you graduate.

As a disabled person you will need to know if your college or university can meet your needs.

Gather information

The following actions will help you to make an informed decision about where you would like to study:

  • Ask for their ‘Disability Statement’ – most colleges and universities produce them – and these will give you more background information as to what the university can offer you.
  • You could also consider talking to college advisers, union welfare officers or the student union disability officers.
  • Call them before you apply and don’t be afraid to ask questions – they are there to help you.
  • Also think about visiting the college, either on an open day or evening or make an appointment to visit separately.

Disability Discrimination Act

University and college education is now covered by Part 4 of the Disability Discrimination Act.

Institutions are required by law to make ‘reasonable’ adjustments to ensure that disabled students are not placed at a ‘substantial disadvantage’. This means that universities and colleges must not discriminate against disabled students in enrolment and admissions, in the provision of student services and in exclusions.

From September 2003, the provision of auxiliary aids and services are covered by the Act, and adjustments to the physical environment will be covered by the Act from September 2005.

Remember to stay positive – although it might be difficult asking questions and finding the information out, just think of all the skills you’ll gain in the end and what you will get out of it.

Who can help?

You could try talking to some of the college or university advisers, union welfare officers or the student union disability officers.

There are a number of websites you can visit for help and advice about learning with a disability.

The RNIB website offers information, support and advice to over two million people with sight problems. Visit their site here.

For more help and advice if you are hearing impaired, try the Action on Hearing Loss website and the NDCS (National Deaf Children’s Society) website.

There is also a website written by a 13 year old who has dyslexia. The site contains lots of useful information such as tips for people with dyslexia, a question and answer section and success stories of people that have overcome their disability. Visit the site at http://www.iamdyslexic.com/

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