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Adjustments and support available through the OU and DSA: Adjustments available by study elements

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Every faculty/and subject area offers adjustments to suit your needs. You should speak to your student support team to find out specifically what the relevant faculty can provide for you.

Here we give an overview of the adjustments that are available through a combination of Open University support and Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) funded support. It provides examples rather than a list of what each faculty offer. For further advice before you register you can contact our Student Recruitment and Support service, then once you've registered your student support team will advise you.

Reading large amounts of text

Other formats available (included within the module website where available):

  • Ebook
  • Interactive books
  • Kindle ebook.
  • Word optimised for screen readers
  • PDF version of webpages
  • PDF versions of printed material (some components may not be fully screen reader accessible)
  • DAISY digital talking book version of module materials.

Other formats, equipment and software:

  • Comb-bound pages that lie flat so they can be read while lying down or with a magnifier
  • Enlarged print (A4 to A3)
  • Audio or combined audio and text versions of printed material
  • Braille production upon request in advance
  • Synthetic speech software for reading written work (DSA)
  • Equipment to convert printed text to speech (DSA)
  • Magnifiers, specialist glasses, task-lighting or portable CCTV text magnifiers.

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Using a computer and the internet

Examples of adjustments that may be available for when looking at screen for a considerable amount of time:

  • Computer skills guides, help and advice
  • Printed versions of online modules are available upon request
  • Ergonomic furniture (DSA)
  • A computer with voice-recognition (DSA)
  • Screen magnification software (DSA)
  • Computers with screen-reading software (DSA)
  • Large screen (DSA), large text, or different display colours.

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Audio/visual clips, interactive activities and resources

Examples of adjustments that may be available if there are audio/visual media clips, and interactive activities and resources:

  • Written transcripts or closed-caption subtitles for audio visual components
  • Some content may not be compatible with all assistive software, equivalent content may be created where necessary
  • Detailed figure descriptions of key visual material
  • Arranging a sighted assistant to provide descriptions (DSA)
  • Some modules have alternative assessments using books with tactile images
  • Some modules involve visual analysis of works of art - get in touch if you think this learning outcome may present a challenge.

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Finding external or third-party material online

There may be an alternative version of the activity that still provides evidence of learning, for example, talking through the steps and decisions that you would have taken.

OU Library also provides a supported literature searching service.

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Working with specialist materials or software

  • Notations and associated techniques may be particularly difficult to use with assistive software.
  • Some content or tasks may not be compatible with all assistive software (every effort is being made to provide as much compatibility as possible); if you have any concerns contact our Student Recruitment and Support service.

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Study intensity, notetaking and assignment writing

If you're a disabled student, study is likely to take longer so take the following into account:

  • Take the opportunity to pace your study for example, aim for one module per year or up to 60 credits per year.
  • If you get behind, your tutor can help you prioritise, and there are time-management and study skills resources available.
  • An Access course could provide you with a gradual start and give you the opportunity to develop your study skills.

Notetaking and assignment writing

  • Digital voice recorders
  • Computers with voice recognition and speech-to-text (DSA)
  • Additional arrangements for assignments.

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Interaction with tutor and other students

This could include online conferencing with audio, screen share and message board:

  • Many modules deliver tutorials online some are recorded for later playback
  • You can request handouts before tutorials
  • Communication support (DSA)
  • Portable personal loops if you use a hearing aid
  • You can use text messages to communicate with your tutor
  • Request written communication
  • Creating an environment that suits listening and lip reading for any face-to-face meetings.

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Some modules have day schools or residential schools

  • Funding money towards transport costs (DSA)
  • Each school has a team of staff to offer support and guidance
  • An online alternative learning experience may be available
  • Specialist equipment borrowing
  • Assistants
  • Campus transport
  • Other formats (see above).

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If you suspect that any of your course elements will be a challenge, OU support and DSA-funded support can provide adjustments and strategies to help you achieve a level playing field.

If you're still unclear about overcoming barriers to studying you could:

  • message your peers on the OU Students Association (OUSA) Disabled Student Group Facebook page
  • contact our Student Recruitment and Support service on 0300 303 5303
  • choose to study an Access module before your qualification.
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