By Carys Hogan
Upon starting university and in the lead up to it, it’s natural to worry. How are you going to cope moving away? Will you make friends? How will you find your course? Unfortunately, for many disabled people like myself, these worries are only heightened when concerns about accessibility come into play but, often, there’s little to fear.
At Oxford, you should be supported as much as possible with your studies and most, if not all, of the staff you meet will be as passionate for getting the best out of you as you will. Talk with staff and pupils, if you can, before you arrive and ask them what support they can provide. Every time I’ve asked my tutors to make small adjustments, they’ve always done it discretely and no fuss at all. Obviously, accessibility requirements will vary for everyone and some colleges may have more accessible accommodation than others, so it’s worth considering what you’d like and need before you apply and, if you have any questions, the Disability Advisory Service (DAS for short!) are always on hand to listen and to help.
If you apply for Disabled Student’s Allowance, you may also receive extra help for university, often in the form of taxi vouchers, a laptop, ergonomic equipment, etc, but aside from that, your assessor also communicates with the university as to how they can support you. Don’t be fooled by the term “assessor” either - it may sound daunting but my assessor was really kind and I felt like she was there to listen and try and help, rather than seeing meeting with me as ticking boxes or trying to evaluate “how disabled I am”.
Finally, remember you know what you need best. Communicate with your college and departments what exactly you’d like and/or need and they should be able to help and work with you. If not, don’t be afraid to fight for it. It can be so easy to sink into the trap of feeling like you’re a burden for asking for extra help but, actually, you deserve everything you need in order for you to reach your full potential. Despite what many people think, Oxford can be very accommodating and you have the potential to be amazing and do amazing things here.