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Accessibility at university

In this article, Tamlyn outlines some of the accessibility support you should expect to see at university if you require it.
two people talking laptops on the table
© Alex Holland at the University of York

As a student with a disability, long term health condition or neurodiversity, your university experience may benefit from some of the accessibility measures your university should have in place. This article covers a summary of a selection of helpful resources and tips which you may wish to consider.

To benefit the most from the support available, it is recommended you register with your university’s disability support service to see what support is available to you. This may include a Student Support Plan (SSP) which will include special arrangements for your examinations.

Other forms of support will depend on your university and individual circumstances but, as an example we offer at the University of York, our library has a range of services on offer to help you get the most out of studying with us. Our Adjusted Library Services include the following:

  • Longer loan times at the library – this includes our laptop loans as well as books.
  • Our Subject Guides provide information and links for all aspects of library support for your degree.
  • Our Skills Guides is a huge resource of online guides and training in all aspects of academic study.

We also understand that our students have preferences when it comes to where and how they study. Not everyone enjoys a busy workspace! At the University of York we provide a range of different study spaces, so you can find the space that is right for you.

There are different zones across our three library buildings – Silent, Quiet and Studious Buzz – to accommodate different learning preferences, but most universities will have single study rooms you can book as well as group study rooms for collaborative work or practising presentations.

We also have adjustable height desks available. These can be positioned to act as standing desks, or adjusted to better suit those with mobility issues such as back problems or using wheelchairs.

Assisted Reading

Universities will have support in place to help students with reading. Some examples of this might be:

  • Supporting you in creating documents for use with magnification software;
  • Having supplies of pastel paper available for those who find white backgrounds harder to read from;
  • Stocking Irlen transparent coloured overlays in a variety of colours, for working with physical texts in the library;
  • Providing software that can convert accessible files for use with Voiceover or similar software.

There will also be other support available. Library staff are usually super friendly though so please don’t worry about asking them about anything you need support with.

Over to you

We’re interested in knowing what forms of support you would hope to find at a university library. How might this differ from libraries outside of higher education?

Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

© University of York
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