Study with a learning disability

The University of South Australia (UniSA) has hundreds of successful students with Specific Learning Disabilities studying across a range of subject areas. For many students negotiating an Access Plan with Disability Services can make an important contribution to their success.

Students are encouraged to contact a Disability Adviser on their campus to discuss services and negotiate an Access Plan.

Disability Services and Eligibility

The Disability Service has a Disability Adviser on each metropolitan campus that can meet with you and discuss options to support your study. To be eligible for specific services such as exam adjustments or equipment loan, you will need to have an assessment report completed by an Educational Psychologist.

Services Available

Some services that may support students with a Learning Disability are listed below. A full summary of services available for students with a disability is available from the Services for Current Students web page.

Equipment

You may be able to borrow a voice recorder for lectures and tutorials. You should discuss your equipment requirements with a Disability Adviser on your campus.

Adaptive Technology Suite (ATS)

There is an Adaptive Technology Suite on each metropolitan campus in the library. Each ATS has:

  • Texthelp Read a&Write Gold software to help with writing and editing of essays

To access the ATS, students need to negotiate this as part of their Access Plan. The Read & Write Gold software can also be accessed from some of the computer pools. To find where you can access them go to Software and Hardware Search and type in "Read & Write Gold 9".

Examinations

The University can make alternative exam arrangements for students with a learning disability. Alternative exam arrangements can be negotiated with Disability Services and will be based on information provided in an Educational Psychologist's report. For more information go to the Exams web page.

Language and Learning Advice

The Learning & Teaching Unit has Learning Advisers based on each metropolitan campus. You can book an appointment with a Language and Learning Adviser to get assistance developing study skills such as:

  • Academic writing skills
  • Referencing skills
  • Organisation skills

The Language and Learning Advice team has developed a range of online resources to support students with their reading and writing.

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Study Strategies

Working out strategies which work for you is an important part of being a successful student. Some useful study strategies include:

Assessments

  • It is a good idea to look carefully at the Course Information Booklet and take note of the Assessment Details within the course booklet.
  • The Assessment Details can help you to identify:
    • What percentage of your grade will come from each assessment
    • The due date for the assignment
    • The length/expectation of the assessment
  • It is also a good idea to take note of any Assessment Feedback information that is provided in your Course Information booklet. This assessment details and assessment feedback information can help you to identify:
    • How many marks each section of the assessment are worth
    • The graduate qualities being assessed in the assessment
    • Remember to use the percentage of the grade each assessment is worth to determine how long it should take. You would not usually need to spend as much time on an assessment that is worth 15% as an assessment that is worth 40%.

Organisation

  • Familiarise yourself with important university dates.
  • You may need to change your study load during a study period and it is important to be aware of dates for changing enrolment without penalty.
  • As soon as you have your Course Information Booklet it is a good idea to start putting the important dates for your assessments onto a planner
  • You may wish to use mind mapping strategies to help you to organise your thoughts and information for an assignment. You can find useful mind mapping software at: My Study Bar
  • Use a diary or study planner. Set realistic goals and structure your time so that you begin work on assignments well before the due dates.
  • Make sure to plan breaks in your study time and during your week.
  • Daily planners are a great way to keep organised.
  • Try to complete your required reading before lectures. At least familiarise yourself with the content of the readings
  • Take up opportunities for skills training in time management, note taking and IT skills when available. Establish a study group with other students in your course.

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Reading

  • If you have difficulty with reading speed or comprehension you will want to target your reading carefully so that you don't waste valuable reading time. Your Course Coordinator or tutor may be able to help you refine your reading lists.
  • You may want use a Screen Reader so that you can listen to electronic material such as e-texts and websites
  • Source material in alternative formats which cover your topics. You may find many useful DVDs or online multimedia which can help cover some of your topics.

In Class

  • Get to class early and sit near the front to reduce distractions
  • Bring printouts of the overheads for you to write your notes on
  • Record lectures if needed (with the lectures permission)

Talking with academic staff

It is important to meet with your lecturers to discuss your individual needs. The To tell or not to tell website has information about whether, when and how to discuss your disability with staff. A Disability Adviser can develop an Access Plan for you, which will provide information to assist you with your discussion and negotiation with academic staff. Plan your meeting with academic staff by:

  • Making a time to meet with them
  • Thinking about what you want to achieve
  • Taking your Access Plan with you
  • Decide if you want someone to come with you to help with the meeting.
  • It is a good idea to make a time to meet with the lecturer away from the classroom.
  • Think about what you need them to understand before you meet. You can ask a Disability Adviser to help set up the meeting and come with you if you want assistance.

Check out the Negotiating Extension web page for more tips on talking with academic staff about study adjustments.

Issues commonly discussed in a meeting with staff include:

  • Recording lectures: Most lecturers agree to students recording lectures but students need to seek permission first
  • Due dates for assessment tasks: You may need to negotiate alternative due dates for some tasks
  • Access to teaching material before the beginning of study period

Useful links

Areas of study and research

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