Education25th August 2014

Let’s get academic: Preparing for University

Deaf and going to university? Here are some quick hints to assist you

by Natasha Hirst, Photographer and Deaf Life Writer

I’m stretching my memory back to 1997 when I was finishing my A-Levels and looking ahead to attending Cardiff University to study Chemistry. My support teacher was helping me to fill out my application for the Disabled Students’ Allowance and the form asked me what support I would need to access my course. I didn’t have a clue. I had no idea what the university environment would be like. What does it mean to go to lectures, take part in lab sessions, participate in tutorials, perhaps even field trips? It is incredibly different from a school and sixth form environment where I was known by all of my teachers and by my peers. I had no idea what to expect.

Fortunately for those of you heading off to University this year, academic life is much more accessible now than it was when I first arrived, clueless and anxious for my first ever Fresher’s Week. There are a few things that you can do to prepare for University life and make that transition as easy as possible:

1.Apply for a Disabled Students’ Allowance.
2.Get in touch with the University disability services centre
3.Get in touch with the admissions tutor of your Department.
4.Get in touch with the Students’ Union.
5.Sort out accessible accommodation.

You may be used to ‘getting by’ and not telling people when you are struggling to follow what is happening around you.  Be proactive. This is the time for you speak up for yourself, don’t wait for people to come to you to find out what you need.  If you aren’t already confident doing this, this is your opportunity to learn because you’ll be facing the same challenges throughout your life, in every working and social environment.

You have the legal right to full access to your course and to the level of support that you need to complete your studies. If you feel that you are not getting the support you need or that you have been discriminated against, get in touch with your tutor, the resource/advice centre and the union for representation and support.

Useful links:
Disability Rights UK Guide to Higher Education <>
Disabled Students’ Allowance (England) <>
Disabled Students’ Allowance (Wales) via the Student Finance Wales website <>
Disabled Students’ Allowance (Scotland) via the Student Awards Agency for Scotland <>
National Union of Students <>
Disability Benefits <>

Article by Natasha Hirst, Photographer and Deaf Life Writer

posted in Community / Education

25th August 2014