Are freshers' nerves worse when you have a disability?

Pint of beer on an outside tableOne of my university friends quite helpfully posted on Facebook that next year it will have been 20 years since we graduated. So it must be 23 years ago that I started university.

Pulp, Oasis and Michael Jackson all had top 10 albums and a pint of beer cost £2.50, and the British transfer record was broken with Manchester United paying Newcastle United £7 million pounds for footballer Andrew Cole.

This makes me sad because the years have gone by a bit too quickly for my liking. But I also feel very proud that I was the first in my family to go to uni and graduate.  

I’d always wanted to go to uni because all my peers had done so and I wasn’t going to let a disability hold me back. Anyhow, I had no idea what I really wanted to do with my life, so I thought I could take three years at uni and have a really good think about it.

Fresher's fears

Of course, at the start there were some nerves. Everyone is nervous. I was probably more concerned than most because I had a visible disability and I wondered how fellow students would react to me. I needn’t have worried, I soon realised that everyone was just as nervous as me.

I used technology even then to get my notes down but it was laughingly basic. It was an Amstrad NC100. I couldn’t even access the internet on it. How retro darling! Mobile phones were still really basic too, and useful only for making calls and sending texts.

Uni was a blast and I made some really good friends. A lot are still in touch with me through the magic that is social media. The thought of a 'status update' had never occurred to me during my uni days. Facebook, nor Twitter were even glints in their creator’s eye as far as I know. In fact I studied abroad in my second year which was an awesome experience but I must admit that it was difficult keeping in touch with what was going on at home through the medium of email!

Disabled Students' Allowance 

So for all you newbies out there, embrace the next few years. Make friends, work hard…. go to the pub occasionally if that's your thing (or perhaps a juice bar!).  If you have a disability, make sure you have all the support and provision you need via the Disabled Students Allowance. There’s so much technology out there that can help you with note taking and producing work that shows how able you are - more info on that below. 

Lastly ENJOY yourself. It can be a slog but it will be worth it in the end.

Alex Barker BA Journalism Studies. Class of '98. Falmouth College.


How can we help?

AbilityNet provides a range of services to help disabled people and older people with technology and communications.

  • Call our free Helpline on 0800 269 545 and our friendly, knowledgeable staff will offer one-to-one help.
  • If you are in work your employer has a responsibility to make Reasonable Adjustments which include helping you with invisible illnesses. Find out more about how we help disabled in the workplace.
  • Arrange a home visit from one of our amazing AbilityNet ITCanHelp volunteers. They can come to your home, or help you over the phone.
  • We have a range of factsheets which talk in detail about technology that might help you, which can be downloaded for free. You may find our factsheets talking about computers and vision impairment useful
  • My Computer My Way is our free interactive guide to all the accessibility features built into current desktops, laptops, tables and smartphones.