Study advice

Using print

If you have difficulty reading print quickly and/or for long periods, or have problems seeing boards and other display screens, ensure that this is documented in your support plan so that print and other visual materials can be provided to you in a preferred format. This will also include issues surrounding making and using notes and presenting your work.

Making notes

Taking notes in class can require some preparation. We would recommend speaking with the lecturer before to get an idea of aims and objectives from the class. Try to concentrate on the core points in the class and take notes which will help you to revise them in the future.

If you are using a recording device, set it up in an area which will produce the best quality recording.

Using equipment

Equipment that supports your journey through university ranges from the simple (felt tip pens, magnification aids, reading lamps), to the complex and sophisticated (electronic braille displays, scanners and associated computer equipment such as magnification and screen reading software).

It is vital that your equipment needs have been assessed by staff who have the necessary expertise.  Any assessment of your equipment needs should focus on the following:

  • Which format is appropriate:  print, large print, audio/aural, braille, or perhaps a combination of these?
  • Is output going to be print, speech, braille or a combination of all three?
  • Where is information about the range of equipment available?
  • What criteria should apply to the choice of technology? For example, curriculum requirements?
  • How competent are you at using the technology and what training will you require? Don’t forget that you will be working as an independent learner, which will require you using your technology to conduct your own independent research.

Check out the RNIB’s ‘Beginners guides to assistive technology’ which highlights what technology can help you and get you started on the basics of what to do.

Non-visual study methods

Braille can be an excellent method of study but needs training from specialists if you are not already fluent.  Learning braille to ‘grade two’ standard is a lengthy process and requires commitment.

For details about where to learn braille contact your local voluntary society for the blind, social services or the RNIB Helpline on 0845 766 9999 or email

Transcriptions of new printed material needs to be arranged in advance or alternatively you could explore the option of an electronic braille device to read electronic documents.

Audio-recording of books and lectures is also a useful note taking process however, it is recommended that this is predominantly used as a back-up referral method within your studies.

You may want to use a personal reader from time to time, either to read onto a digital recording device or directly to you, so you should speak to the university’s Disability Support Office for advice about arranging this.

Finally, for more information and guidance on study advice, check out these ‘top study tips whilst studying in higher education’.

Check out the other sections of this guide...

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