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Jemma Brown | 10:11 UK time, Wednesday, 27 August 2008

I'm almost ready to get going on the biggest life change of my life. Leaving home for the first time to go and study at university. I am very excited about starting my course but naturally I am also a bit apprehensive, it has been a very rocky road to even get this far so I am determined that it will all work out ok.

I have however had a few problems along the way. Trying to sort out a student loan equals a huge amount of forms to fill in. As a disabled student you have a few extra forms to fill in and if you have a disabled parent like me, you have yet more forms to fill in and in some cases, like mine your poor disabled parent has to go to the job centre and get the people there to fill out yet another form!

On the for mentioned forms I distinctly remember being pleased when I ticked the box requesting all correspondence in large print. Unfortunately this has caused me more problems; the correspondence I have got through the post has been intermittent, it would appear that I sometimes get the large print and sometimes don't. Furthermore a week ago I rang up the student loans people to find out how my application was going because I had not heard from them in quite a while. I discovered that on their system they had my address down as somewhere in Glasgow, a whopping 445 miles away from Gosport in Hampshire where I live. The explanation for this was that I had requested information in large print, unfortunately somewhere between them and Glasgow none of my paperwork was making it to me. I have now abandoned the large print and have asked them to simply send things to me.

On the other hand my disabled students allowance application has run really smoothly I requested large print and have received everything I asked for in large print. My assessment was really relaxed and it was obvious from the outset that the assessor was out to insure I receive all the help and support I need at uni. There was at one point a small hiccup with the budget for my DSA but that was resolved quickly and I will be receiving all the equipment I'm being provided with later this week, a few weeks before the start of my course.

So I'm all ready to go, well almost... there is one small issue in that I have not done the route to and from where I will be living and I don't know where the nearest food shop is, I am working with the trainer that has been training Gus and I to sort that out though.

Southampton Solent University themselves have been utterly fabulous! The have looked into transcribing important documents into DAISY format for me, allowed time for me to visit for several orientation sessions, and built Gus two very luxurious spending areas for him to go to the toilet in, they even have a rain shelter so he can wee in the dry when its raining.

Walking around campus it was evident to see that they really have thought of people with disabilities whilst designing and maintaining the campus, the signage is all very clear, in high contrast colours that even I can read. Every single step I saw on my tours had a clearly marked edge so it was easy to identify. There where tactile markings at each flight of stairs inside and out. Outside the students union building there is a small road with a zebra crossing, the pavement is completely flat which would cause a problem for a visually impaired person, but know the university thought of that and installed tactile markings to show where the pavement ends and the road begins.

Overall, as you may have gathered I am extremely impressed by the university's attitude to disability and I can't wait to get started and stuck into my course.

• Visit Diary of a Monkey




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