Adjustments and support available through the OU
Adjustments available by study elements
Every module is different and the level of adjustments to suit your needs may vary. Every module has an accessibility guide available via the Resources section of your module website, and you should always check this for any specific issues or advice. You should speak to the Disability Support Team to find out specifically what adjustments can be provided for you.
Here we give an overview of the adjustments that are available through a combination of Open University (OU) support and Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) funded support for students in the UK. It provides examples rather than a definitive list of what is on offer for every module. For further advice before you register, contact the Disability Support Team.
Using a computer and the internet
For a guide on how you can set up your computer or device and find the right alternative formats and tools to help you study, take a look at Studying on a screen.
Examples of adjustments that may be available if you have told us about a disability are:
- a computer with voice recognition software
- screen magnification software
- computers with screen-reading software
- large screens.
Reading large amounts of text
You might want to consider:
- Ebook (epub2), Kindle Ebook and Word versions (optimised for use with a screen reader) which you can print yourself and other Alternative formats of module materials.
- rather than reading, try listening to your materials.
If you have told us about a disability you may also be able to get:
- comb-bound pages (for materials over 85 pages) that lie flat so they can be read while lying down or with a magnifier
- enlarged print (A4 to A3)
- audio version of text-based material
- braille production upon request in advance
- synthetic speech software for reading written work
- equipment to convert printed text to speech
- coloured overlays on request
- magnifiers, specialist glasses, task-lighting or portable CCTV text magnifiers.
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.
- 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.
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.
The OU Library also provides a supported literature searching service.
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 the Disability Support Team.
Study intensity, note-taking and assignment writing
The OU is designed with flexibility in mind, you can:
- pace your study if you're worried about taking on too much, aim for one module per year or up to 60 credits per year
- ask your tutor with help to prioritise if you get behind, and there are time-management and study skills resources available
- start with an Access course which will give you a gradual start and the opportunity to develop your study skills
- take a look at the free OpenLearn course Being an OU student.
You may also be able to request additional support such as a mental health mentor if, for example, you are anxious about deadlines or have difficulties with concentration or organisation.
Note-taking and assignment writing
There is lots of help available with writing assignments and note-taking techniques. If you have a disability you may also be able to request:
- digital voice recorders through our Small Equipment Loan Scheme
- interim loan of a computer with assistive technology relevant to your disability
- additional arrangements for assignments
- a dyslexia tutor who can help with things like getting your thoughts organised and readable to write assignments.
Interacting with your tutor and other students
The way you interact on OU modules might include emails, phone conversations, online tutorials (which can include a range of interactive features) and online forums.
There are a variety of ways we support you with different communication needs, for example:
- Many modules deliver tutorials online and some are recorded for later playback.
- You can request handouts before tutorials.
- Communication support such as a British Sign Language interpreter or note-taker if you are D/deaf or hard of hearing.
- Portable personal loops if you use a hearing aid.
- You can use text messages or email to communicate with your tutor rather than talking on the phone - you can tell them at the start of the module how you would prefer to interact.
- A variety of options for communication with your student support team - you can use email, webchat or phone and request that we always email you rather than phone if you prefer.
- Ensuring that the room set up for face-to-face events such as tutorials enables listening and lip reading.
Support at day schools or residential schools
Some modules have day schools or residential schools. Arrangements and support vary between modules, but there is usually an online alternative learning experience available if you are not able to attend.
If you have a disability we may also be able to provide:
- funding money towards transport costs
- specialist equipment borrowing
- campus transport
- alternative formats for materials (see above).
To arrange support from the OU you should complete the Disability Support form as soon as possible. An adviser will contact you within ten working days to discuss your needs. For more information on the process and to start your application see Timescales for getting disability support.
If you would like further support around overcoming barriers to studying you could also:
- message your peers on the OU Students Association (OUSA) Disabled Student Group Facebook page
- contact the Disability Support Team
- choose to study an Access module before your qualification
- take a look at the free OpenLearn course Being an OU student.