Adjustments and support available through the OU and DSA
Adjustments available by study elements
Every module is different and the level of adjustments to suit your needs may vary Each module has an accessibility guide, 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' Allowance funded support. It provides examples rather than a definitive list of what is on offer for every module. For further advice before you register you can contact the Disability Support Team for advice.
Using a computer and the internet
Go to Studying on a screen, for a guide to how you can set up your computer or device and find the right alternative formats and tools to help you study.
Examples of adjustments that may be available if you have told us about a disability are
- printed versions of online modules are available upon request
- ergonomic furniture
- a computer with voice-recognition / voice recognition software
- screen magnification software
- computers with screen-reading software
- large screens.
Reading large amounts of text
You might want to consider
- Alternative formats of module materials such as Ebook (epub2), Kindle Ebook and Word versions (optimised for use with a screen reader) which you can print yourself
- Listening to your materials rather than reading them
- Requesting printed copies of online materials
If you have told us about a disability you may also be able to get:
- comb-bound 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
- 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, notetaking 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.
- If you get behind, your tutor can help you prioritise, 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.
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 and/or organisation.
Notetaking and assignment writing
There is lots of help available with writing assignments and notetaking techniques.
If you have a disability you may also be able to request
- digital voice recorders
- computers with voice recognition and speech-to-text
- additional arrangements for assignments.
- a dyslexia tutor - they 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 conversation 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, these include
- Many modules deliver tutorials online 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 tall 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).
You should complete the Disability Support form as soon as possible to arrange support from the OU. An adviser will contact you within ten working days to discuss you needs. Read more about the process in Timescales for getting disability support.
If you like further support around overcoming barriers to study you could also