By Anna Bodman
Here are 10 things I have learnt from being a disabled student at Oxford University so you don’t have to learn the hard way, how generous.
Always have a copy of your Student Support Plan saved on your desktop. This is a chunky document that contains lots of information about your conditions, how it affects your studies and what adjustments need to be put in place to help you. It's super helpful to attach to emails when introducing yourself or asking for adjustments to be made so you don't have to explain narcolepsy for the 100th time.
The workload is tough, but you're tougher.
Bring all the documentation and medical records you have to uni because for some reason we are still living in the 1900s and physical documentation of you disability is often needed before arrangements can be made. I would recommend getting a letter from your doctor/GP/specialist outlining all the symptoms of your condition(s) and specifically applying them to uni - saves you from hauling a small filing cabinet up to Oxford each term.
It’s okay to make use of the adjustments that you have been given! This can be a tough, one when coupled with the Imposter Syndrome already experienced at Oxford, but just remember they are there to be utilised and to level out that playing field.
Short terms can seem tough, but truly are a godsend. Use those long vacations tactically for getting ahead where possible.
Creating a solid support network of friends both at uni and home is invaluable - don’t ever feel the need to struggle alone.
If you don't ask, you don't get, however backwards that might seem. If you have an idea of something that will make your life easier as a disabled student, however small it may seem, just ask! Some of my best and most useful arrangements have come from me sending an email full of questions.
Oxford night-life is super chilled and seems to wind down earlier than other uni cities - make the most of that fact!
Hot chocolate solves everything
APPLY FOR DSA! Disabled Student Allowance is a phenomenal, government backed financial scheme which doesn’t have to be repaid unlike the loan. It can help in ways that you didn't even realise were possible and is worth every second of the tedious application process, even if (like me) you don’t see how it could initially help.
(Just bear in mind that these lessons are from my own experiences! Disabilities obviously vary from person to person, so don’t take my words as gospel).