familiarising yourself with the campus
It will be important to familiarise yourself with your university or TAFE campus before you commence your studies. This will help you to know what to expect in the physical environment.
visiting the campus
Download the campus map from the university or TAFE website or obtain one from the campus. Highlight particular areas that you will be using, such as the library, lecture theatres and cafeteria. Consider taking photos of these locations if this strategy helps you.
Visit the campus and familiarise yourself with each of these places and find out how to get to each one. Having two routes to choose from can be helpful in case there are changes during semester, such as maintenance or a social event. Find things like the nearest toilets, evacuation routes for emergencies, assignment submission boxes, and mark these on the map too. Remember that things may look different during semester when students return.
Most universities and TAFEs have Open Days for future students to walk around the campuses, meet with staff and attend information sessions. Check the campus website for details of their next Open Day. You may wish to attend this. You can take family and friends along with you.
If you prefer to visit when it is less busy, you can arrange a private visit at another time. You may be given permission to sit in on some lectures before the semester begins. Speak to your schools career adviser or student support services for the campus, or contact a National Disability Coordination Officer (NDCO) to arrange this.
James is a young man who came to TAFE straight from high school. He had been at his school for 12 years, knew the layout and the people well and did not need to think about where things were or how to get around – he simply knew. When he started at TAFE he felt uncomfortable and confused
in the different environment, with lots of people coming and going, and all sorts of ages and cultures represented. When going to his classroom for the first time, James was unsure of himself and not certain that it was the correct place until the teacher arrived.
James then met with student support services and they were able to meet him prior to class and show him across to his classroom. As they went, they took pictures on James’s phone. James then came in and met with student support and downloaded the picture into a simple document with captions giving directions and reminders.
James now walks to class on his own and if he gets confused or feels uncertain of where he should be, looks at his phone to confirm he is on the right track. To everyone else, James is just another student checking his messages.
locating a de-stress area
It is important to identify a place on campus that you can go to if you are feeling stressed or agitated. This may be a quiet place outside, an area in the library or a quiet corridor. Some campuses have a specific area that is set aside for people with disability. These areas provide a quieter place to study. Locate a de-stress area when you are feeling relaxed, so if you do get stressed, you know a safe place to go to help you calm down. Make sure that you know how to get there from all of the places that you will be spending time, such as the library, lecture theatres and cafeteria. If you find it hard to communicate when stressed, consider making a written note or card as a way of asking for help.
Gillian was enjoying her TAFE studies and all was going well, until she arrived at her classroom one day and found a note on the door indicating that due to the necessity of carrying out unexpected maintenance to the room, classes would be held in an alternative location. She was unsure where the new room was located, and felt stressed about trying to find it before the class was due to start. She wandered around the building and was becoming agitated. Another student asked if she was OK and needed help to find the room, but Gillian was not able to respond. Gillian decided to go to her de-stress area, a seat in a quiet area of the library. She sat quietly there and practised some deep breathing relaxation techniques. After 15 minutes she felt much calmer. She decided to email her teacher to make a time to discuss any information covered in the class she missed, and to ask for directions to the new classroom.
travelling to and from university or tafe
You will need to know how to get to and from the campus. It is advisable to plan your route and, if possible, take the journey a couple of times before the semester commences. Again, try to have an alternative plan in case there are any changes, such as road works or public holidays.
table 1: transport information
mode of transport
what you need to know
Public train, bus and/or tram
Timetable and connections
Safest route including nearby bike tracks. Location of campus bike racks.
Car parks available on campus or nearby
orientation and information sessions
It is advisable to attend any orientation and information sessions for new students. Check your university or TAFE website for information on their orientation events. These can take place before semester starts or during the first few weeks of semester. These sessions can be busy so try to go with someone if this helps you. Orientation activities can cover topics such as:
- Campus tour.
- Subject enrolment.
- Signing up for tutorials.
- How to get a student identification card.
- The university or TAFE’s online systems.
- How to access support services.
- How to use the library services to find and borrow items and access online resources.
- Most universities also have orientation activities put on by student clubs and societies. These might be political, religious, sporting, social or ASD student groups. They can be a great way to meet people with similar interests.
If you need to live away from home in university accommodation, you will also need to familiarise yourself with this environment. This will include your room, bathroom, kitchens, dining room, laundry and recreation facilities. There will also be many new routines to establish. This can cause many additional challenges. It is outside the scope of this booklet to cover the issues involved in living away from home. It is strongly advisable to discuss with the accommodation services manager or student support services any impact your ASD may have on your accommodation.
question & answer
Question: How can I find out if the campus I will be attending has a specific area for students with disability? How can I arrange access to this area?
Answer: The disability support service at your campus will be able to give you information about this area and arrange access for you. Ask them if there is a specific area on campus, and if so, whether can they take you to it to view, and then arrange access for you to use it.
Question: I can find the library and lecture theatres but I’m not sure how I locate the rooms where I will have smaller classes. Is there someone that can help me with this?
Answer: Tutorials and practicals are held in various rooms throughout the campus. You may be told the class venue during the first week of semester. It is important that you locate these rooms before the classes are held. You can download the campus map from the internet and find the locations this way, or you can ask student support services for help in locating the venues. Check if your university or TAFE campus is connected to the ‘Lost on Campus’ app. This app can help guide you to buildings within the campus.
Who can help?
- Your career adviser.
- National Disability Coordination Officer Program: https://education.gov.au/ndcoprogramme
- Disability support services at the university or TAFE where you are enrolled.
- Your university or TAFE website information for new students, and