I have always found it ironic that dyslexia is such a difficult word to spell - even now (being dyslexic myself) I had to use the spell check to make sure it was right.
In this post I’m hoping to share my experiences of what it’s like to be dyslexic at university, what support the university and the government can give you and what you need to do now in order to make sure all that support is available when you finally make it to Bath because if you’re thinking about revision for your A2’s now - blink and you’ll be here at uni in a flash!
Firstly, if when you filled out and submitted your UCAS application you declared yourself to have a disability (be that dyslexia or something else) then the universities that you declare as your first and second choice will most likely contact you with some (to be honest quite boring) but really important forms which you should definitely take time to fill out, as this is how the Uni will assess how they can best help you.
Secondly, and most importantly, check to see whether you’re eligible for the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) because this is an absolutely awesome initiative by the government that helps disabled students access the technology they need to be able to perform at their best at university. If you’re eligible then I believe you can already begin the application process by downloading an application form from the DSA website. I would recommend doing this as soon as you can because as with most government processes, it’s quite long. You may have to get an assessment of your disability completed before you can apply as well, and all these things take time to organise although hopefully your school can help you out with this!
So you’ve applied early, got all the necessary assessments done and the DSA people (whoever they are) have decided that you do indeed have a disability (of course you’ve know this all along but now they officially agree!), so what are the benefits. Well you start by going to another assessment, yes another one, called a needs assessment. Fear not though because this one is different! The assessment takes place at a local assessment centre so you won’t have to travel far. It takes place with an experienced professional who will first start by asking you questions about things like how you work, what technology you currently use and whether you think certain types of technology might be useful for you. The whole process isn’t rushed so you have plenty of time to talk about all your needs and even try out some of the dyslexia busting gadgets. In all I was there for about 2 hours but it varies depending on what you need.
It’s important to remember that this assessment is no longer about proving your disability but finding out how technology, strategies and learning support can help you at Uni. This is awesome because (even as a self confessed tech fan) I was so surprised at the software and support that could help me out. For instance as a result of the DSA I can now use a piece of software called Dragon that to dictate my essays. It may not sound much but for my specific needs it makes a world of difference. In fact, I’m even speaking out this blog post right now… creepy huh! “Hellooooooo”. Of course my flatmates think I’m a bit weird because I like to talk to myself in my room about how a rise in inflation could seriously affect small businesses but there are pros and cons to everything!
This really is just the start though, there is mind mapping software, read aloud software, advanced spelling software the list is endless. They can also help you out with providing new laptops, printers and personalised 1-1 support where you can get specific help with your learning disabilities, all which as I’m sure you know can make a massive difference. So yes, if you're like me (awesome and have dyslexia etc) then I can’t stress enough the benefits of applying for DSA, there is masses to be gained and nothing to lose!
If you would like any advice on applying or on dyslexia in general talk to either the Students Disability Advice Team or drop me a comment below!
Until the next post!