Written by Lydia Keys
BA (Hons) Politics & Media
Coming to university knowing you will be needing more support than your peers makes the leap from school/college even more daunting. But rest assured, you can stop worrying. Bournemouth University has an Additional Learning Support (ALS) team who will support and help you every step of the way throughout your university journey. The team aren’t just here for your everyday disabilities; they also help and support those who have short term difficulties at university. They make allowances and changes for students who injure themselves causing an impact on their studying and those who are unable to write in exams because of a short-term injury.
Within Bournemouth University’s ALS department there are plenty of sensory tools to make the space safe and inviting; however the star of the show works in the office. His name is Jack, he has four paws and is a great listener. This little worker is a unique aspect to BU because he can help those who have difficulties speaking up to a human, it also helps that he is super cute and loves a cuddle which really does help when you’re in need of additional support or just want to unwind during stressful periods. As well as Jack, the people who work in the ALS team are so lovely, kind and caring. They try to understand every individual case and tailor their support to every situation to offer as much help as you feel you may need throughout your time at BU. ALS make it a lot easier for those with and those who develop additional needs to be able to do their best and enjoy their time at university.
My route into ALS was really sudden and it took me ages to pluck up the courage to go and ask for some additional learning needs as I was starting to struggle with my uni work both inside and outside the classroom. I was diagnosed with a visual impairment just before I started uni in 2014, but within the last year my eyesight has deteriorated to the point where I was really struggling to see and understand what was happening in my lectures and seminars. As soon as I took the first step into the ALS office, I knew I should have come to them sooner, they were super helpful from the moment I stepped foot into the office and immediately gave me the help I was so urgently in need of!
After your first encounter with the ALS team you are assigned a tutor who will help and advise you throughout your time at BU – they set up any adjustments you may need for your exams or assignments to make sure that you’re able to achieve your best throughout your time at Bournemouth University. Your tutor will be able to advise you about the tools that may be available to help you further your study and overcome any barrier that is facing you.
The team within ALS are such lovely people that by the time you leave the office you no longer feel scared at the thought of having to tell people about your difficulty at university. They make you believe that you are not disabled – the world around you disables you by not being accessible for your individual circumstance. They take the time to listen to how your difficulty affects you and try to work with you to see what provisions can be put in place which will work for you.
So, if you are in need of any additional learning support during your time here at BU, do go to the ALS team who will be happy to help everyone who walks through their door.
I thought I would include a picture of me looking rather cool after one of my eye operations. If I can get to final year with a visual impairment, you can all do anything!!