Going to University as a disabled student: 5 things to consider

Written by The CWD Team
Last updated Monday November 16 2020

Starting university can be a daunting time, leaving your parents and friends and starting life in a new city. These challenges can be made even harder for disabled students.

Many visible and invisible disabilities can have a range of impacts on day to day life. You may not consider yourself a disabled person, but the institution is there to support you, whatever your needs.

60,000 people who suffer from ongoing physical and mental health conditions and learning disabilities apply to university every year. Suppose you are about to start university with a disability. In that case, there is plenty of support available for you to ensure that your time at university is as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. Universities usually have a Disability Support service with advisers who can work with you individually to find the best possible support.

Here we have collated five things for disabled students to consider, to make this next step in your life a bit easier. Remember, you do not have to sort these out alone, get in touch with your disability support service.

Accommodation

Your disability might mean there need to be extra considerations regarding your living environment. If you have mobility issues, you might want to live on campus, or as close as possible, to reduce the distance to your classes.

Before applying for accommodation, ask yourself if it meets all your needs. For example, would you prefer a private bathroom? Or a room on the ground floor? The accommodation services will be able to help with all of these preferences and finding what you need.

Technology

Universities offer a whole range of disability support, some of which come in assistive technology. If you have a hearing or visual impairment that means you can’t take in lectures easily, your uni can provide you with a recording device and an accompanying pen. Or suppose your dyslexia means that you find reading on a laptop screen difficult. Then, you might benefit from a printer to ensure you can always print your reading material. Find out what technology your university can provide by contacting your support services.

Peer Support

Some universities, such as Manchester Metropolitan, run a disability peer support scheme. The first years are paired with an older student to help them navigate the world of disabilities at university. This is an excellent opportunity for practical and emotional support and a chance to socialise with other students. Do some research to see if your university offers any form of peer support.

Financial support

As well as the standard student loan, disabled students are entitled to DSA’s (Disabled Student Allowances). This is not a loan, which means it’s not included as part of your debt and the amount you get is related to your needs, not your income.

The money is intended to cover any extra costs you incur because of your physical, mental, or learning disabilities. This can cover small things like technology, to higher costs such as employing a support worker.

Campus accessibility

Think ahead to how you want to use your university campus and make sure it suits your needs. For example, if you will be driving in, find if there are accessible parking spaces. Research what facilities they have on offer and what else they might be able to provide for you.

If you would like to find out more about careers with disabilities, you should read through our Disability Advice Hub.

Last Updated: Monday November 16 2020

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