Disabled students constitute approximately 8% of the OU student population (approximately 14,500 students)
- Provide materials in alternative formats, for example, in audio, pdf, transcripts or comb-bound materials.
- Loan specialist equipment and software to students, for example, hand-held Dictaphones for students who have health conditions which impact on their short-term memory, to record tutorials so that they can listen again to material to aid their study.
- Provide additional support for students at tutorials or residential schools, for example, with equipment such as mobility scooters, hoists and human assistance.
- Assess the impact of their disability or health condition and identifying their needs and additional requirements. Students applying for a Disabled Student’s Allowance must meet with a trained assessor either at an Access Centre or in their own home.
Many of our disabled students live in remote areas of the country or have disabilities that leave them housebound so are unable to travel to the Access Centre here on campus to have their study needs assessed.
Over the past five years, the OU has alleviated this problem with a fully equipped mobile assessment vehicle known as the “Access Bus” which travels around the UK assessing the needs of these individuals in either the comfort of their own homes or a nearby location.
The Access Bus is equipped with a wide range of assistive technologies including specialist software to read out text from a computer screen, CCTV to magnify text and specialist ergonomic hardware and furniture that students can try out. The Bus is staffed by OU Access Centre staff who have specialist training and are on hand to offer expert advice and training.
So that our disabled students can have the same rewarding learning experience as their fellow able-bodied students, it is important that we carry out their assessment using the most up-to-date assistive technologies. It also means that we can open up access to learning to many more disabled people who otherwise could not enrich their lives through education.
To do this requires funding, so if you are interested in supporting our disabled students, then please donate now using the button below.