Alongside a range of other support services available on campus, Disability Support Services can form part of your education support network, helping to make your University of Waikato experience as successful and rewarding as possible. The section below outlines specific educational assistance accessed through Disability Support Services. You can also download the Student With Disability Handbook.
If you are not able to take notes in lectures due to a disability, alternatives such as taped lectures and copies of overheads can be arranged. Some lecturers provide notes on Course Reserve at the library or online for you to read on computer via Moodle (University's online learning system for accessing paper information, resources and online discussion forums), while others are recorded and available as video or podcast. However, some are only made available by agreement with the particular Faculty or School.
If you are unable to access notes in any of these ways a note-taker may be able to take notes for you. Disability Support Services employ and train staff (usually students experienced in your particular subject area) to take notes. You are required to attend the lecture in order to receive copies of notes. Eligibility for note-taking services requires specific documentation so make sure you contact Disability Support staff as soon as possible and at least two weeks prior to the start of each semester.
New Zealand sign language interpreters
If you are Deaf and require a New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) interpreter, please contact Disability Support staff well before the start of the semester so arrangements can be made to book external NZSL interpreters.
Laboratory and research assistance
Individual support is also available for students where disability affects access to learning. This can involve having someone to assist in practical laboratory sessions, obtain books from the library, or read text unavailable in alternative formats. The assistance available to you will reflect your particular needs.
Resource material in alternative formats
Students with a range of disabilities may require print material in alternative formats. This includes large print, different coloured paper, Braille, audio or electronic format. Many Students directly purchase electronic textbooks where available. Students who need alternative format library books or textbooks will need to organise this with Disability Support Services well in advance of the course starting, as it can take considerable time for textbooks to be transcribed.
Course related audiobooks from the University of Auckland can be issued on interloan through the University of Waikato Library's Interloan Service. Requests should be made at the Library Information Desk and must be course-related.
Scanners, OCR and screen reading software are available for scanning print information and reading it on a computer as required. These are located in the Disability Computer space on Level 3 of the Student Centre and the Access Room located in the Student Services Building on Hamilton Campus. Tauranga students should contact Disability Support staff to discuss access on Tauranga Campus.
If you are a first or second year student who would like to have a mentor, or if you are a graduate student or student who has been around for a while and you have something to offer new students as a mentor, please contact the Disability Support staff for more information
Alternative test and exam arrangements
Arrangements for in-class tests
Alternative test arrangements are available for eligible students who require a more accessible way of sitting their tests. If you require additional time, a separate room, use of a reader/writer for tests or require other specific arrangements, please contact Disability Support staff before the start of semester so that your eligibility can be determined. If approved, you must then submit an application for alternative test arrangements by the end of the first week of each semester.
Applications are available on the Disability Support website or from the Disability Support Office.
Complete your application in full including test dates, times, lecturers name and all other information as found in your paper outlines. Paper outlines are provided in your first lectures. If you are having trouble completing your application please drop in and see us as we would be happy to guide you.
Arrangements for examinations
Disability Support Services work with the Assessment and Graduation Office which is responsible for providing special arrangements for formal examinations. Disability Support staff are happy to guide you through the process of submitting your annual application for special exam arrangements and explain how to provide the appropriate clinical evidence.
Needs Assessment Forms are available at the Disability Support Office or at the Student Centre.
Please also refer to the relevant sections under the "Regulations Governing Examinations and Other Means of Assessment" in the University Calendar. For more information and contact details, see Examination and Assessment Office.
Assistive Technology refers to the various software and hardware options that assist in addressing a range of disabilities, such as vision, learning and mobility impairments. The following range of equipment, hardware and software may be borrowed or accessed for use on campus by students who require it. Loaned equipment is normally provided free-of-charge through a booking system at Disability Support and needs to be returned at the end of each semester.
Disability computer labs
Disability Support Services operate two computer labs with specialist software and equipment for use by students with a disability who are registered with our service. Equipment includes a CCTV, scanner and software converting print to voice or to electronic format, voice recognition software and text-enlarging software. Access and training to use the equipment can be arranged with Disability Support staff.
The Access Room
This is a combined computer lab, study and drop-in space for use by students with disabilities. Along with all the technology mentioned above, the room has comfy chairs and a kitchenette with a microwave and hot drinks provided courtesy of Disability Support Services. Make visiting this room a priority to meet other students with similar interests, goals and study plans, or just to have time out from your busy day. The Access Room is located next to the Disability Support Services offices in the Student Services Building and is open 9.00am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday during the semester or at the Disability Co-ordinators discretion. Please see Disability Service staff if you wish to study in the Access Room.
Library Disability Space
This space is located on Level 3 of the Student Centre Library.
This space houses similar hardware and software as featured in the Access Room. Disability Support staff will be happy to show you through and talk over any specific needs you might have. This space is accessible during the Central Library's opening hours.
Equipment and hardware
Dictaphones for audio recording lectures
Taping lectures is a useful way to "fill in the gaps" in your paper notes. Digital recorders are made available for students to record audio material which can be saved to a computer for future reference. Re-listening to all of your recordings is often time-consuming and unmanageable, so speak to the Disability Support staff about practical strategies and advice.
Most of the larger lecture theatres are fitted with hearing loop systems. These are signposted outside the specific lecture theatres. If you are in a lecture theatre that does not have a fitted system you should contact the Disability Support staff to borrow a portable Easy Listener system.
FM hearing equipment for hearing lectures and tutorials
The Easy Listener is a portable FM transmitter/receiver listening system with a hearing loop or a headset. It allows you to hear the lecturer's voice directly in your ear with little or no distracting noises. They are primarily used by students with hearing impairment and Deaf students who wear hearing aids. However, they are also good for people who have head injuries, ADD/ADHD, mental illnesses and others who have common concentration or distraction difficulties.
Ergonomic chairs for use in lectures
There is a range of chairs available including ergo office chairs with adjustable height and back support; kneeling chairs designed to promote good sitting posture; Bambach Saddle Seat designed to reproduce the upright standing position with height and seat tilt adjustment.
Read-write stands for holding books and paper
These provide an angled work surface for writing or holding books and notes at the correct angle.
Specialist computer software
Specialist software for eligible students can be used in the labs on campus and allows users with a variety of impairments to access and produce material in alternative formats.
Dragon Naturally Speaking software
Dragon Naturally Speaking is a voice recognition program that allows you to interact with the computer using your voice to control its actions. The version that we currently use at the University of Waikato has a very good recognition rate and is easy to train and use.
Voice recognition software is a good solution for students who struggle to write/spell independently or who have trouble using a keyboard and/or mouse to access a computer. You will need to spend a bit of time personalising the software, but once done you will be able to dictate notes, essays and assignments directly into the word processing program, send emails, browse the internet and use almost every aspect of the computer with your voice instead of your hands.
JAWS is a screen reader program primarily designed for people with low vision or who are blind. JAWS reads back what is happening on the computer screen, for example, what menu is active, or what option is selected.
OpenBook converts printed documents or graphic-based text into an electronic text format on your PC using quality speech and the latest inaccurate optical character recognition. OpenBook will scan and convert your hardcopy material and can be customised to work with PEARL camera for portable scanning and will also convert PDF image-only files. It includes built-in support for Braille and DAISY audio files. There are user-controlled settings for magnification, character spacing, colour and contrast as well as easy to use reading enhancement features.
TextHelp Read&Write GOLD software
Read&Write is a text to speech reading software program. Read&Write text to speech reading software provides an easy to use toolbar that works within any of the Windows-based applications such as word processors, email, Google Docs, internet, spreadsheets or databases to read text aloud.
The software was designed to address some of the issues that people with Specific Learning Disability/Dyslexia face daily, namely reading difficulties, writing difficulties and problems with spelling. Hardcopy materials (such as books and handouts) and image-only files can be converted into readable text using the Scan/OCR functions. Read&Write also reads aloud web pages and screen-readable text on the computer. The program includes some advanced study skills function and also allows users to create MP3 audio files of documents for listening to on a portable audio player. The main features include: Text to Speech function where text is highlighted and simultaneously read out loud, phonetic spell checker, and a word prediction function that aids sentence construction by suggesting and predicting words.
ZoomText is a combined screen magnifier and screen reader. It has clear images, smooth panning, and enhanced cursor for easy tracking, colour filtering for better contrast and readability and full and partial screen magnification support up to 36x. It includes a screen reader with human-sounding male and female voices that speak all program controls, menus or text content in applications or web pages. ZoomText is designed for people with low vision or who are blind.