A round up of tech support options for students

Student in a wheelchair on pathway

"It was refreshing for someone to finally understand what I'm struggling with.”
 
Student life at the moment is difficult, lectures are still being streamed online for the majority of students, and it is often impossible to meet your fellow students in-person. A 2020 report by the National Union of Students shows that if you are a disabled student you have a lot of additional barriers to overcome. These include difficulties accessing online teaching resources and making sure that you are able to take part in online sessions in an accessible manner.
 
If you're a student looking for information about support that might help with your studies or need information about support for disabled students, AbilityNet has some really useful resources for you.

My Study My Way

My Study My Way logo

AbilityNet's online resource My Study My Way is one resource that can help you identify the sources of support open to you at your particular university, and provide you with a report about your needs that you can share with your university student support staff to help you get assistance. 

Many higher education students do not get the extra support they need to succeed in higher education, including extra help from their university and the Government's Disabled Students' Allowances.

You can also use AbilityNet's free HE Support Eligibility checker tool to find out if you could be eligible for extra support at university due to a health condition or impairment.

The check is entirely anonymous and you do not need to give us any personal information.

DSAs assessments

You may also need to book a Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs) assessment. These are now available online, from a variety of different organisations. 

AbilityNet began introducing video-based online DSAs assessments in 2020, in response to Covid-19. Students who have taken these online assessments with AbilityNet report a very positive experience.

  • "I was anxious before our assessment as I have such difficulty expressing the pain and stress I go through, It was refreshing for someone to finally understand what I'm struggling with. And now I'm confident of starting my masters degree with the support I will be receiving."
  • "The video assessment ran very smoothly. There was good use of technology to share screens which allowed software demonstrations. My assessor was very welcoming and professional."
  • "The whole team was brilliant as well as my assessor. I felt very at ease and was helped the whole way through which is not something I’ve always experienced when sorting stuff to do with my disability."

Some other results of the survey include:

  • 100% would recommend AbilityNet
  • 4.92 out of 5 satisfaction with the experience 
  • 90% found it more convenient to have an online assessment than a face-to-face assessment

Some of the reasons given for preferring online assessments to face-to-face assessments:

  • "Online, I feel more comfortable and open in my home environment and it makes managing my disability easier."
  • "Talking about these issues is hard so it was nice for me to be in a safe environment."
  • "I struggle to focus face-to-face due to ASD"
  • Other reasons provided include less anxiety via online assessments, and online there is less need to make mobility arrangements, there is no travel cost, and it takes less time from the day as travel time required to get to the appointment is not a factor.

Considerations for disabled students when applying to university in light of Covid-19

A 2020 released booklet, written by the Disabled Students’ Commission (DSC), the independent and strategic group established in March 2020 and funded by the Office for Students (OfS), is the result of a series of four roundtable events held during June 2020. The booklet highlighted seven key areas that presented challenges for disabled students and recommendations as to how institutions and policy makers could urgently address them in advance of the 2020-21 academic year. 

A student-facing guide is also available from the Advance HE website. The guide contains considerations for disabled students when applying to university in light of Covid-19, so may be useful for year 12 students and teachers to consider in advance of university applications later this year. It is a practical toolkit written by the Disabled Students’ Commission (DSC), the independent and strategic group funded by the Office for Students (OfS).

Four students sitting at a table using different tech devices, smiling

The booklet includes a number of questions, framed in a positive way, for students to ask of their disability and wellbeing service to help pre-empt any barriers they may encounter when putting in individual-level adjustments before the start of their new academic year.

Get expert tips for online learning 

AbilityNet has also been holding webinars since the start of the pandemic, and these sessions include tips on how to make online learning more accessible.

You can access webinar playbacks on how to manage your mental healt whilst studying, along with how to access online study options.

Find out about free and low-cost solutions to help you when you are studying and access the whole list of lockdown webinars on our website.

If you want to talk to our Advice and Information Officer please feel free to do so. His name is Alex and you can contact him on 0800 047 7462.

Do you work in a university or college setting and need to know more about online accessibility?
AbilityNet has two new training sessions coming up in 2021:

 

How AbilityNet can help

Blog: Four ways My Study My Way can help you at university

Blog: New research reveals tough situations for many disabled students

Factsheet: How to get support from Disabled Students' Allowances

Adjust your computer for changing needs using My Computer My Way

Watch recordings of FREE AbilityNet Live! webinars and sign up for new ones 

Find out more about AbilityNet's Digital Accessibility Service