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Adjustments and support available through the OU and DSA: Specialist technology and personal support

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To study with us you’ll need regular and reliable access to the internet and a computer. For most modules you’ll be expected to spend at least a couple of sessions a week working on computer-based activities, and some of this work may be assessed.

To find public access computers visit the OU Library's Computer access near you.

Each module has its own website that will help you to plan and organise your study and provides access to support from your tutor and fellow students. You can also use our vast library online.

To find out how you can set up your computer to better suit your needs take a look at AbilityNet's My Computer My Way which gives guidance on topics such as how to change the font size or colour and the background colour of any online study pages. You can also type questions into any search engine to find specific answers to your queries.

There is technology and specialist personal support that can help you to study effectively and with considerable independence. Many disabled students need specialist equipment (generally referred to as ‘assistive’ or ‘enabling’ technology) and additional personal support to study effectively.

When a student might need help

Listed below are some senarios where a disabled student might need specialist technology or personal support:

  • A physically disabled student who cannot use a keyboard or mouse may be able to use a computer for producing written work with the aid of voice-recognition software.
  • A blind student who cannot read may be able to listen to printed texts with the aid of a system that converts the printed text into an electronic format that's read out as synthetic speech.
  • A student who is hard of hearing may benefit from a room loop or personal radio aid which amplifies sound in a tutorial or other group situation.
  • A student with mental health difficulties who is anxious about deadlines or whose concentration means they need help with organisation will benefit from a mental health mentor.
  • A student with dyslexia who has difficulties getting their thoughts organised and readable to write assignments will benefit from a dyslexia tutor.

Students who are eligible should apply for Disabled Students' Allowances to pay for suitable assistive technology and specialist personal support.

If you're not eligible for a DSA you should complete the Disability Support Form for OU support. An adviser will call you to discuss whether you need to apply for the Study Support Fund (for students from England or Northern Ireland) or the Financial Contingency Fund (for students from Wales) to pay for suitable assistive technology and specialist personal support or whether one of the OU equipment and support schemes is best for you. For non-UK students further details are available in Disability support for international students.

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