Heading off to university is always a stressful and a challenging experience. When you’re going to be navigating the new waters of academia with a disability, however, it can seem even more daunting. That’s why we’ve put together these handy tips for making sure any soon to be student with a disability can get the most out of the university experience.
In the last few months and weeks before heading off to university it’s crucial to have all paperwork and admin in order so as not to have to worry about it later. That means making sure that access and care arrangements are sorted and confirmed in writing well in advance of setting out on a university adventure. What might help, too, is to have copies of any paperwork saved on your phone so that it can be quickly accessed wherever you go.
It is also important to look into the Disabled Students Allowance and other benefit entitlements you may be able to claim. The DSA can help to pay for useful things like transport in taxis and adapted desks, and other benefits which may be available include a Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or a Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
Transport and Access
Once you have all your official paperwork well in hand, you can start thinking about your time at university proper. One critical thing to think about is how you can get around campus or the area around the university. It might pay to check bus routes and timetables, look into the existence of special ‘safety buses’ and to investigate blue badge schemes and other parking.
Another really useful but oft-overlooked piece of preparation is to locate the accessible toilets in and around your new university. Once you know where those are and what your timetable is, you’ll be able to plan routes to suit you and your schedule and to make life much easier once you’re actually at university and studying.
Equipment and Provisions
It’s absolutely vital to be properly assessed for any disability equipment or lifestyle aids which can help to allow for more independent living at university. A wheelchair or other aid, after all, can provide a much greater range of freedom whilst on campus or at university in general.
It is also imperative to make sure that when you set out to begin your studies you have ample spares and batteries for the equipment you cannot do without. Getting all of that in place, after all, will leave you far less reliant on others and far more able to concentrate on learning new things, meeting new people and getting the most out of university.
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