Disabled students

Tips suggested by members of our online community for disabled students

Help tutors/lecturers get to know you

Make contact with your tutors so they can prepare to support you and get to know you. They may be unsure how to help.

Get it in writing

Make sure any access and care arrangements are in place and finalised. Get things confirmed in writing by email so you can access them quickly via smartphone if there is a problem

Employing a PA?

Start their induction early so they know what to expect and you can ensure a good match when you arrive at university. Is your DSA (Disabled Students Allowance) sorted? Have you had an assessment to see what support you might need? If not, contact Student Finance England.

Check your benefit entitlement

Have you checked your benefit entitlement? Some disabled students are eligible for other financial help on top of Disabled Students Allowance and DLA or PIP.  For more info try the benefits checker or contact the disabled students helpline.

Expect ups and downs

Remember that even though university is culturally held up as the ‘best years of your life', it’s often just a stereotype. If you aren’t having the time of your life, don’t worry that it means you’ve failed. In reality. very few students breeze through their university life.

Facebook

Lots of universities have Facebook groups, where you can get chatting to people on your course or in your halls before you go. It helps to break the ice on your first night.

Disabled students representative

Most student unions have a disabled students representative and if you have any issues it can be useful to talk these through with them.

Student support department

The university should have a student support department with a disability section. The staff are there to support you with any issues you might face and to ensure you have the things you need to study successfully. They may ask for your permission to discuss your situation with your parents.

Special dietary products

Find out where your nearest supermarket is. Do they stock any special dietary products you might need? If not, stock up before you go. It can also be helpful to stockpile anything else you go through unusually quickly, in case there are any difficulties replacing them at short notice.

Pack spares

Remember to pack spares and extra batteries for any equipment you’d be lost without.

Library access

Check out the library for access, including the locations of accessible workstations. See if there is a library tour you can go on; this can help you quickly find out how to locate journals or use moving bookcases if they have them.

Accessible toilets

Find out where accessible toilets are located around the university. If you can get an advance copy of your timetable and the locations of lectures, you can work out the easiest routes to take.

Stake out your parking spots

If you’re taking your car, find out about blue badges or parking passes, and make a note of where the good parking spots for your accommodation, students union and lectures are located.

Safety buses

Some universities have free ‘safety buses’ which you can use to get home after a night out. Find out if your student union offers these and if so, when and where they are available and what accessibility they have. They can be a real lifesaver if accessible taxis aren’t readily available.

Check out public transport options

Find out what bus routes you may be taking and if it helps, look it up on Google maps or street view, so you can recognise where to get on and off. Check accessibility of the buses and get a bus pass sorted out before you leave.

Disabled students induction

See if the students support service offers a disabled students induction. It can be a great way to orientate yourself around the university and also meet other students who have had similar experiences to you.

Register with the doctor's surgery

Speak to the doctor’s surgery you’ll be registered with at university before you leave and find out what their registration process is, and if necessary book appointments.

Keep essential documents close

Don’t forget to pack any welcome literature from the university – put essential documents in a folder and keep them close to hand. Also essential is a map of the university.

Picture it

If you find using a photo booth difficult, take a stash of printed passport photos with you. You’ll end up needing them for all sorts of things, such as student ID cards, National Union of Students cards and railcards.

Put essential contact details in your phone

Good ones to include are student accommodation services, students union advice service, student support disability services, nightline, 24-hour security, local taxi companies (especially accessible taxi services), any local authority numbers you may need.
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