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eing a student with a disability adds a whole new aspect to choosing a university, and can make deciding where you’re going to spend the next three years of your life even more daunting. Fortunately, there is a strong and effective support network at Oxford, which can make the whole process much easier.


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Physical accessibility can differ significantly from college to college and department to department, meaning that choices of college and course are particularly important. Three colleges (St John’s, Wadham and St Catherine’s) are completely wheelchair accessible, and several other colleges have specially adapted accommodation and lecture rooms. The more recently built faculties have ramps, automatic doors and lifts, but older buildings may be more difficult to access. The city as a whole is also becoming increasingly accessible. Driving around the city can be slow, but the parking bays in the town centre are currently free to those with Blue badges. People with mobility impairments are also entitled to free bus travel in and around Oxford through the Oxford City council. To aid with getting around the city, electric scooters and manual and electric wheelchairs can also be borrowed for free from the Shopmobility centre in the city centre.


The Disability Advisory Service can be very helpful in arranging note-takers, library assistants and other study aids, and may be able to recommend other useful provisions that are more specific to individual disabilities, such as study skills support sessions. The new Oxford University Assessment Centre provides study needs assessments in a central and convenient location to determine what sort of support or assistive technology you might need.


It is always useful to speak to colleges, departments and even your tutors about individual requirements, as they will often be able to be more helpful on a one- to-one level. Oxford University Student Union has several schemes designed to address the welfare issues of students with disabilities. Some examples are the buddying system for new students with Asperger’s Syndrome and the mental health mentoring scheme, both of which have been very helpful to current students. There are also the Students with Disabilities Campaign and the Mind Your Head Campaign, which aim to raise awareness of physical and mental disabilities in and around the University. The Student Union also produces a guide for Students with Disabilities, which can be requested by emailing publisher@ ousu.org.


In terms of the university as a whole, the Disability Advisory Service is a fantastic resource. They are familiarw with most forms of disability, and can help you arrange anything from exam concessions to Braille printing. If you are eligible for Disabled Students’ Allowance (which you apply for through your LEA) the Disability Advisory Service can help you obtain any equipment that is deemed necessary, and make arrangements for non-medical assistants such as note takers or library assistants. They also publish an access guide for all the colleges and departments and can be contacted with any questions by emailing disability@admin.ox.ac.uk.


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