Accessing Further Education
Planning to study at a higher educational level?
When considering post-secondary education courses preparation is vital to ensure you access the most appropriate support from the point of enrolment and throughout the course.
Consider the areas in your everyday life where you have difficulties because of the combination of vision and hearing loss. You will know best what support you may need, however, unless you inform the training agency they will not know how they can support you.
You will be well aware deafblindess or dual sensory loss affects individuals differently. It is ttherefore unlikely that the needs of any previous students will be the same because the degree of vision and hearing loss will vary significantly from one person to another.
Educational institutions are required to be inclusive in the provision of opportunities under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. The Disability Standards for Education places responsibility on training providers to ensure students with a disability have equal rights when accessing further education services.
To ensure you are able to receive the appropriate services and support, as a student it is important that you take responsibility to make arrangements to meet with the training agency’s Disability Services Advisor prior to enrolment on a course. This is particularly important if equipment needs to be identified and purchased in time for the start of the fist semester. If you think it will benefit you, take a family member or a friend to the appointment. Make sure you inform the training agency of any needs in relation to interpreting services.
At the meeting discussions will take place with you about equipment and the level of support that is going to be necessary to enable you to have a positive experience when studying whether it is part-time or full-time, regardless of the level of qualification you are aiming to achieve. Relevant medical information may be necessary when determining eligibility to student support services.
Before your meeting be prepared with information about what support you think you may need. Think about the degree of vision and hearing loss and its impact on your daily life.
How does your vision affect you?
Do you have difficulty reading standard print? If so:
- What format do you normally use?
- Do you need magnifiers or specialist software that will enlarge print?
- Will you need specialist equipment when following lectures, eg power point presentation set up on your personal laptop?
- Would copies of powerpoint presentations be prepared for you in your perferred format eg Braille, large print or on a USB so that you can dowload onto your own computer and follow as it is being presented?
- Do you have specific needs in relation to lighting?
- Do you need speech recognition software or specialist equipment?
- Do you need specialist Braille equipment?
- Will you need course materials and handouts transcribed into formats such as audio, Braille, large print, or saved onto a USB,?
- Will you need information in advance of book lists for your studies – are any of the text books available in Braille?
- Would there be benefits for you if someone was available to read material to you or record material that you can listen to?
- Will you require audio recording of lectures and tutorials?
- Do you need Braille or large print labels?
What methods/devices do you use when writing?
- Do you use a computer or other specialist equipment?
- Will you need to record lectures?
- Will you need the support of a note taker?
Do you have difficulty finding your way in unfamiliar environments? If so:
- Do you use a mobility aid or a guide dog?
- Will you need facilities for a guide dog’s feeding, exercise and toilet needs?
- Will you need support to familiarise yourself with the campus grounds and buildings prior to starting the course?
- Will you need the services of an Orientation & Mobility Instructor for more detailed routes?
- What transport will you be using to attend the course; will you need O&M training for these routes?
- Or, will you need the support of sighted assistance on a regular basis?
- What adaptations may be necessary in relation to access to buildings; eg. tactile/Braille markings on signs or controls in elevators?
- Do you have any additional needs in relation to a physical disability?
How does your hearing affect you?
Are you Deaf? If so:
- Will you need Auslan, Deaf Relay or Deafblind interpreters?
- Will you need the support of a notetaker?
- Will you require captioning or a video recording of lectures and tutorials?
Are you hard of hearing?
- Do you have difficulty hearing in face-to-face and/or group situations?
- Do you need a loop system or other system to assist with hearing in a variety of situations?
- Have you had an up-to-date assessment of hearing aids?
- Will you need a lip speaker?
- Will you need a communication device?
- Will you need the support of a notetaker?
Do you need a combination of some of the above options to support you in your studies?
What other areas might you require assistance?
- Do you need equipment more specifically related to the combined vision and hearing loss?
- Do you need sighted assistance and support to facilitate communication?
- Do you require additional courses to support the transition into studying in higher education?
- Will you require systems in place when being assessed or taking exams?
Health and Safety
What emergency evacuation procedures are in place?
- Do you require a pager to alert you when evacuation is necessary?
- Will you require sighted assistance in the event of an emergency evacuation?
Consider whether you will need any additional support such as counselling services which are available through training bodies.
You may need emotional support through stressful periods when studying. In addition, have you thought about how much information you want passed on to lecturers/tutors about your support needs? How much information do you want to provide to other students? Have you considered the implications for yourself about any decision you make when not providing information to staff and other students.