Where to learn
It is important that you choose the learning environment that suits you. There are a number of options available, from a local college or university, a specialist school, or you can even learn in your own home!
RNIB College Loughborough
RNIB College Loughborough is a specialist college for people with a wide range of disabilities aged 16 – 24 seeking to progress into a fulfilling adult life or for adults of any age seeking to gain employment. There are also part time opportunities. Students can attend on a day or residential basis.
The distinctive “Enterprise Curriculum” has been praised by Ofsted and enables a unique programme to be designed around your individual needs. Government policy changes are giving parents and students with disabilities more say than previously in what school or college they attend, so don’t assume you won’t get funding. For more information ring 01509 611 077 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Your local college or university
Check out the website of your local college or university and see if they have the right course for you.
Arrange a visit
It is really important that you contact the college or university to arrange a visit before making an application to a particular course. It is likely that they will hold 'open days' and/or 'taster sessions' for prospective students.
The Equality Act
Under the Equality Act (2010) all education providers are required to ensure that disabled people's access requirements are met. Ideally, the person to contact should be named in their literature or on their website. You should speak to this person and find out what support you can expect.
Also under the Equality Act (2010) colleges and Higher Education institutions are required to provide publicity and all other materials in a range of accessible formats (large print, Braille, etc) so you should ask for these in the format you prefer. These institutions have an 'anticipatory' duty under the legislation and they should be able to provide materials in an appropriate format without difficulty. You should find out what the college or university provides in terms of other facilities such as computers with screen reading and/or magnification software. The environment should also be accessible and you should be able to get around safely.
You may feel that mainstream education is not for you, and that a specialist college would be better for you. If you feel this is the case, you will have to show that the mainstream provider cannot meet your needs.
Natspec: The Association of National Specialist Colleges is an association for independent specialist colleges providing further education for people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. The Natspec directory provides access to information and contact details about specialist colleges.
This is sometimes referred to as adult learning. Many local authorities will run local adult education courses for personal development or leisure. Visit or call your local council offices or library. They will have a list of the courses available and their locations. Both the local authority and library should also have a website you can visit. Again, these institutions are covered by the Equality legislation and should provide all publicity, teaching and learning materials in a range of accessible formats.
Residential training is for people who need to develop new skills or to re-train to go in to employment. The training usually takes place in a residential setting in accessible buildings. Staff members with specialist knowledge of disability issues teach the courses. Also, confusing as it sounds, Residential training doesn't have to be residential. Some of the providers offer distance learning or programmes in people's home areas.
Nowadays it is possible to learn from your own home. This is sometimes called 'distance learning' which means learning remotely on 'self-study' courses. It is often combined with 'e-learning' which makes use of technology to give you access to course materials.
The Open University specialises in distance learning and adult education. Visit the Open University website or call them on 0845 300 60 90.
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