Skip to content

Toggle service links

Student Charter and Essential Documents

Faith Bannister

The Open University’s Student Charter describes the ways in which the OU community works together to allow our student members to achieve their full potential. The Student Charter’s values are set out in 4 Principles – and you can see one of these Principles brought to life in the student story below.

Principle 1: We treat each other with dignity and respect

As members of a welcoming and inclusive community we value diversity and recognise that different people bring different perspectives, ideas, knowledge and culture and that this difference brings great strength.

Faith's story

Image of Faith BannisterMy disability is cerebral palsy, which I’ve had from birth. I use a powered wheelchair all the time and I have difficulties with my hands, meaning that I can’t type very quickly.

I cannot begin to tell you how the OU’s openness to technology helped me study for my degree. Before, my study at university involved scanning in pages of the books I needed to read for the technology available at the time to then read it for me. The PDF books that the OU offered me, coupled with access to Dragon Naturally Speaking (a voice-recognition program for my laptop which transcribes my speech as text) revolutionised my study opportunities and goals. Suddenly, those thousand-word TMAs were possible to do, crucially without someone else’s help; they would not have been before.

I’m very proud to say that over the seven years that I was studying with the OU, I didn’t require a study enabler to help me complete any part of the course. This represented a real change for me, to be able to study and work towards completing a qualification without physical help. To be able to feel independent in this part of my life felt extremely good. For the first time I didn’t have to struggle opening piles of books to read the volume of work required. I could just switch on the laptop, turn on the screen reader, speak to Dragon Naturally Speaking, and off I’d go! The tutors at the OU were always understanding of any technological problems which might arise with any of the software I was using. They were patient and encouraging despite any learning blockages that I had whilst completing my work.

My experience with the OU has been so good that I’d recommend it to anyone who may feel that they cannot achieve their full potential because of physical disabilities. With the help of the OU, these things have felt a lot more possible!