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TOP TIPS SERIES

TOP TIPS FROM

STUDENTS WITH

A DISABILITY OR

CHRONIC HEALTH CONDITION


COPYRIGHT Š Western Sydney University 2016 First Published August 2010 Version 2 - updated for digital publication July 2014 CRICOS Provider Code: 00917K Commonwealth of Australia Copyright Act 1968 Warning This material has been reproduced and communicated to you by or on behalf of the Western Sydney University under Part VB of the Copyright Act 1968 (the Act). The material in this communication may be subject to copyright under the Act. Any further reproduction or communication of this material by you may be the subject of copyright protection under the Act. Do not remove this notice.

DISCLAIMER This eBook provides information of a general nature only. If you would like to speak to someone regarding your personal circumstances, please contact the Western Sydney University Counselling or Welfare services. More information about disclaimers, privacy and copyright at the University is available online.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We would like to acknowledge the students who are part of the first generation in their families to go to university for generously sharing their Top Tips for study and success.


TOP TIPS SERIES

TOP TIPS FROM

STUDENTS WITH

A DISABILITY OR

CHRONIC HEALTH CONDITION


CONTENTS

Introduction

1

Prepare ahead for study

3

Be proactive about your needs

5

Using assistive technology

6

Study and time management

7

Assignments and exams

8

Maintain your wellbeing

9

Plan for the future

10

Support services and resources

11


STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES

INTRODUCTION While all students face challenges during their time at university, living with a disability or chronic health condition brings extra challenges, such as balancing studies with self care. Overcoming these challenges with support and the right information can enhance your university experience and give you tools to meet challenges throughout your life and career. This booklet is a collection of tried and tested tips and hints from students like you. These ‘pearls of wisdom’ have been shared by students with a disability or chronic health condition at Western Sydney University. We hope this information will help make your university experience more rewarding and enjoyable.

In this booklet all ‘top tips’ from experienced students are marked with this symbol.

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STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES

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STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES

PREPARE AHEAD FOR STUDY Time spent in preparation before the teaching session starts, gives you a head start, helps to minimise stress levels and maximise the enjoyment you get from your studies. You can also put these top tips into practice at any time during the year.

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STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES

Visit the campus before the session starts. Find your way about without the crowds and stress of having to rush to the next lecture or tutorial. Find the buildings where your classes will be held.

Stay in contact with your Disability Advisor – this is the person who can help you with exam modifications and assistance you may need during your time at Western. Let them know if your situation changes!

Meet with a Disability Advisor early – preferably before you start your course. There’s one on each campus, you just need to make an appointment.

Write down what you want to accomplish, then prioritise and plan. Decide what is most important and know the steps to achieving your goals.

Seek help! Don’t think, “I’ll see how I go” before asking for help, and don’t be afraid to ask. It is better to have your Academic Integration Plan all sorted - you might not even need it, but it’s there just in case.

Consider how much time you can spend studying. Some students choose parttime study so they can manage all their commitments. When you plan your studies, consider your energy levels and other commitments. Think ‘sustainable’ rather than ‘sprint’.

Hang on to all your medical and education records. Keep them safe and organised – copies of things like hospital discharge notes, specialist appointments or HSC provisions can be important in making plans or adjustments to your studies.

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Be yourself – do not hide the thing that gives you unique insights into life’s challenges and triumphs. Realise that university is a life-changing experience and it can be a very good one – even if adjusting is challenging.

WESTERN SYDNEY U TIP Some courses have abilities, skills or knowledge required to complete the degree called inherent requirements. Learn more online and discuss with your Disability Advisor if you have any concerns.

Ask yourself – ‘What do I need to have an enjoyable and successful experience at university?’

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STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES

BE PROACTIVE ABOUT YOUR NEEDS

Western Sydney University has an extensive range of study and disability services to enable students with a disability or chronic health condition to reach their goals. Below, students who are familiar with these services share their Top Tips to help you to achieve your goals and enjoy your time at university. Head to the back pages for a directory of services at Western Sydney University.

Don’t be afraid to talk to the Disability Advisors, they are there to help you. Take advantage of this – I have, and it’s made things a lot easier for me. Be prepared. Know exactly what requirements or adjustments you need and be clear about communicating this. Put everything in writing. Self-advocate. Ask yourself – “What do I need to ensure I get the education I deserve?” Let your Disability Service know if you don’t need your notetaker or assistant at any time. It’s courteous and they might be available to assist someone else.

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If schedule or room changes create problems for you, let your Disability Advisor know so they can help you sort it out. If you can’t physically make it to the Disability office you can also book a phone appointment or send an email. Don’t ignore an issue you need to discuss.

WESTERN SYDNEY U TIP Head to the Disability website to learn more about the support available.


USING ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY

Learn about adaptive software – where the computer does the things you are not so good at. If you qualify, the uni will provide software and training.

Be prepared to use something different. Don’t just focus on the thing you need – try instead to think of what you need it to do – be creative and open-minded about your options.

Specialized equipment (like smart pens or powered stethoscopes) can be borrowed for the length of a teaching session so you can try it out before you buy.

If you use any assistive technology, practice using it throughout the session to increase your confidence in an assessment or exam.

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STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES

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STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES

STUDY AND TIME MANAGEMENT

Do you find that you can study better on some days than others, or that a ‘brain-fog’ can hijack your best intentions? These Top Tips from students can help you to navigate the ups and downs of successful study while managing a disability at Western Sydney University.

Have a consistent study plan for the entire session. Prepare in advance - start studying much earlier than you think is necessary to avoid cramming! Create the right study environment for you. Do you need total quiet or do you need background noise? Do you study better in the morning or the evening? Study during your most productive time of the day. Use the library or team up with a study buddy. Keep up to date with readings and attend as many lectures and tutorials as you can.

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Try to be early to lectures, tutorials or group work. That way you can get comfortable and settle in. Speak up and don’t be afraid to ask questions or to have something repeated or re-phrased. There is probably someone else in the room who will be secretly glad you asked, because they were wondering the same thing.

WESTERN SYDNEY U TIP Find out about free student workshops and programs to improve your maths, academic writing and study skills at westernsydney.edu.au/ workshops


ASSIGNMENTS AND EXAMS

Start preparing early! Know your needs and the course requirements and keep in touch with your Disability Advisor to ensure adjustments can be made. Go through your Academic Integration Plan with your Disability Advisor to ensure that if you need specific items to assist you in the exam these are identified. Make sure of the details, like if you need extra time allowance for stretching or you have a need to eat.

If you have issues during the exam due to your disability, tell the Exam Supervisor so they can fill the appropriate form, then telephone or go to the Disability Service to make an appointment with your Disability Advisor to advise them of the circumstances.

“Every disability is different. I have a physical disability and as part of my preparation, I did regular exercises, had a good night’s sleep and ensured I took care of myself.”

If you miss an exam remember you will need supporting documentation as evidence.

WESTERN SYDNEY U TIP

Learn techniques to help you relax and stay calm. Mindfulness and breathing exercises can make a big difference.

Take your Academic Integration Plan and student card for identification.

STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES

Look for the “Study, Money & Life Skills” modules on your vUWS site for online ways to improve your study videos and practical skills.

  Don’t worry if you need to do your exam in a separate room from the other students. This can be a really good thing if you are easily distracted.

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STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES

MAINTAIN YOUR WELLBEING

Have a plan. Allocate a set amount of time to an activity and do it. Knowing the demands that your disability or illness can place on you is so important when you are studying, because it lets you plan in the best way for you. Take care of yourself! Get moving to reduce stress, make sure you get enough sleep, eat well, drink plenty of water and make time for yourself.

9

Celebrate your milestones before rushing to the next thing. Take a break. Don’t wait ‘til you have everything done. Time for relaxation improves your study time - you come back to study refreshed. Don’t stress about perfection. Life is messy don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go right or your study area isn’t Instagramworthy. Some days you’ll be at the top of your game and the next you might drop the ball – be kind to yourself!

Take a deep breath and stretch – keeping present in the moment will help you use your time well, but don’t forget to move!


PLAN FOR THE FUTURE

Graduation can sometimes seem a long way away, especially if you are studying part time or have had a break in your studies. Remember, with persistence and hard work you are on track to achieving your goals.

STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES

There are skill sets that will help you both in your career and in managing your disability - technology, communication and networking. Practice! Talk with a careers advisor or mentor (but don’t let anyone hold you back if they have limiting views about what is possible for you!) Look for opportunities to volunteer, even before you graduate. You have experience and insights that are really useful. This is excellent experience and it looks great on your resume.

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STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES

SUPPORT SERVICES AND RESOURCES

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ABOUT THE DISABILITY SERVICE

Western Sydney University has a number of services and facilities to help students with a disability or chronic health condition. The Disability Service is a team of professional Disability Advisors and trained educational support staff who offer support and assistance to future and current students with disabilities and chronic health conditions. This service is confidential and available to all Western Sydney University students.

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Types of support provided includes: STUDY SUPPORT ≥ Pre-admission advice ≥ Academic Integration Plans ≥ Educational Support Service staff (academic notetakers, readers, practical assistants and sign interpreters)

STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES

WESTERN SYDNEY UNIVERSITY DISABILITY SERVICE Phone: (02) 9852 5199 Email: disability@westernsydney. edu.au westernsydney.edu.au/ disabilityservice

DISABILITY SERVICE FACILITIES ≥ Training in assistive technology ≥ Access rooms ≥ Advocacy for disabilityrelated issues ≥ Referrals ≥ Transcription of videos and podcasting ≥ Textbooks and educational material in alternative formats

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STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES

INFORMATION AND SERVICES

Student Central — your first point of contact Student Central Infoline: 1300 668 370 Email: studentcentral@ westernsydney.edu.au westernsydney.edu.au/ studentcentral Security and emergency information 24-hour Security Hotline: 1300 737 003 Emergencies (police, fire, ambulance): 000 westernsydney.edu.au/security

Academic Literacy workshops westernsydney.edu.au/ academicliteracy Accommodation westernsydney.edu.au/ accommodation Campus life, food and fitness services westernsydney.edu.au/services

Campus maps westernsydney.edu.au/campus

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Career advice, jobs and workshops westernsydney.edu.au/careers

Childcare centres westernsydney.edu.au/ childcare Counselling, mental health and wellbeing westernsydney.edu.au/ counselling

Maths Start workshops westernsydney.edu.au/mesh Mature age information westernsydney.edu.au/ matureage Mental Health and Wellbeing westernsydney.edu.au/mhwb

Mulifaith Chaplaincy westernsydney.edu.au/ chaplaincy

Disability and chronic illness services westernsydney.edu.au/ disability

PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions) westernsydney.edu.au/pass

Glossary of Western Sydney terms westernsydney.edu.au/ glossary

Printing, copying, scanning and binding services westernsydney.edu.au/ printservices

International exchange programs westernsydney.edu.au/ goglobal

Scholarships westernsydney.edu.au/ scholarships

IT and systems support westernsydney.edu.au/its MATES program westernsydney.edu.au/mates

Services for Indigenous Students westernsydney.edu.au/ badanami


STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES

Services for International Students westernsydney.edu.au/ internationalstudentsupport

Western Sydney U Facebook page facebook.com/westernsydneyu

Starting at Western Sydney University website westernsydney.edu.au/starting

University Library library.westernsydney.edu.au

Student Legal Service westernsydney.edu.au/sls Student Representation & Participation westernsydney.edu.au/ studentrepresentation Student Services Fair westernsydney.edu.au/ servicesfair Textbooks theuniversitystore.com.au

Western Sydney U Twitter feed twitter.com/westernsydneyu Western Wifi wireless network westernsydney.edu.au/ westernwifi Welfare, financial help and accommodation assistance westernsydney.edu.au/welfare

Workshops, programs and online resources westernsydney.edu.au/ workshops

Transport and getting to uni westernsydney.edu.au/ gettingtouni Online student support hub westernsydney.edu.au/ onlinesupport

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Western Sydney University Locked Bag 1797

Penrith NSW 2751 Australia

WESTERNSYDNEY.EDU.AU


Top Tips from Students with a Disability or Chronic Health Condition  

Western Sydney University

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