I was slightly anxious in the build up to my Needs Assessment on Tuesday, but now this seems rather silly looking back on what happened. Everything ran smoothly, and it was more an informal chat about the support I would need at University next year.
A main piece of advice about Needs Assessments is making sure you are prepared to emphasise what your needs truly are, especially if you have a long-term, progressive condition. That way the assessors will understand that funding needs to be made available for support like; specific assistive tehcnlogy, software programmes, computer equipment or help with travel costs.
I am quite fortunate at my age with my condition, due to how much physical movement I still have, however, I still need to have the right provisions in place to access a University course like any other student. This makes it incredibly important to start from scratch at Needs Assessments never say ‘I have help sometimes at my college.’, you must say things like ‘I get a lot of help at College.’
Make certain that your Needs Assessment takes place before you leave your current education institution, don’t make the mistake of leaving it to August when you have your results. For me having it in April means there is plenty of time to make sure I get the right provisions in place in time for when I start my course in September. I haven’t had the assessment too early though which has given me enough time to do my research on the assistive technology available. Research is key because I was able to speak confidently about what technology would help me during the course.
As I have mentioned before in these blogs, it is important to have a sound idea of what your support requirements will be at University. Don’t get me wrong, you cannot possibly look into a crystal ball and foresee what will happen in the future. But, talking to course leaders about what the course entails and what current university students in a similar position find helpful has given me a better insight into what will be required next year.
Although there are few things to remember with Needs Assessments, they are not nearly as stressful as I first thought. Most Needs Assessors will have a good idea of a range of assistive technologies out there and understand the difficulty of your position. The lady who did my assessment asked thorough questions about how my condition affects my study so she could use her knowledge to suggest what would help me.
Much of the technology shown to me was new, despite the research I did. The journalism course will entail many lectures and seminars like most other courses, and to access these in the best way software programmes such as Dragon Voice Recognition, Mindmapping, Audio Notetaker and Read and Write have all been reccomended. Full details will be passed on about these softwares and how you can use them when I get a summary of what was discussed in the assessment in a few weeks. To simply know the names of a few of these programmes can be so useful, because it meant the Needs Assessor and I were on the same wavelength.
Other important provisons to have in place for any course are; mentoring,
library support and a voice recorder. You are at more of an advantage if you ask for more support or assistive technology to be set up for when you start, even if you don’t know to exactly what extent you will be using them. Things could become quite problematic if you ask for more support in the middle of your course, especially with assistive technology as very often this will require training.
One last tip for this week to remember is that whenever you have any appointments related to University don’t let others speak on your behalf, those from support organisations or your parents. At the end of the day, you are responsible for your own needs.