Of all health conditions on record in the UK that have a claim to be one of the most common and under-supported, Diabetes has one of the strongest. According to Diabetes UK, Diabetes is ‘the fastest growing health threat facing our nation’, with over 3 million people suffering from the condition.

The term ‘Diabetes’ however is really a general term, since the health condition itself refers to at least two variations, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. This means that the support required for people with diabetes is far from simple, and the ‘one size fits all’ support approach simply isn’t enough for each individual sufferer of the condition. Sadly, this has had a grievous effect on both the quality and longevity of people with diabetes, with life expectancy said to decrease by up to 10 years for Type 2 Diabetics and a horrifying 20 years for Type 1 Diabetics. However, despite its prevalence throughout the UK and worldwide, there still exists a severe deficit in the availability and quality of support and healthcare available to Diabetics, and like many other conditions, this sad truth owes its existence to the lingering lack of awareness of the condition. In the case of Diabetes, it is quite astounding how unawareness of the condition remains so great, since as stated earlier, it is the fastest growing health threat in the UK with 3.5 million diagnoses approximately. Yet far too few people even know what Diabetes is, let alone the hardships that face those who have it.

diabetes-uk In my own experience, I had never encountered anyone with Diabetes or even developed a rudimentary understanding of it until the age of 24. On this occasion I was fortunate enough taken on in a graduate internship by my old university. In short, the interns were tasked with making the sterling research carried out by students and professors known to the public through brief social media productions. Of my two assigned researchers, one of them was a Msc student by the name of Josh, who was himself a Type 2 diabetic if I recall correctly, and was taking part in a project designed to make a ground-breaking artificial pancreas (also developed by the university) compatible with exercise in those it was to be implanted. For me, meeting these guys on my internship was both uplifting and illuminating, and I believe it reinforces a truth that I believe is too often overlooked – that despite the hardships they face, with the correct support people with Diabetes can make great strides through the educational and employment spheres and make valuable contributions to the rest of society. In the case of education, Access2Learn is here to provide said support and make a positive difference to the studies of those with diabetes, allowing them to do the same for society.

diabetes-statistics Students with diabetes may have difficulty with fatigue, concentration, adverse effects on stamina and worry about sharing medicine storage with others. This on top of the difficulty of studying itself is bad enough, but they must also stay on top of their blood sugar levels – which is far easier said than done. While all this must be kept in mind, don’t despair. If you are a student with diabetes and are thinking about attending University, or are currently attending, you could be eligible to apply for Disabled Students Allowances (DSA). DSA is a grant that does not have to be paid back, and can provide great help and support to students with a disability or learning difficulty. As a student with diabetes, you could be eligible to receive:

• A new, study-worthy laptop (subject to a small student contribution)

• Text-to-speech software, to you to ‘proof listen’ which can be a more effective way of recognising errors

• Notetaking software that creates audio files in a visual and interactive format, allowing the ability to sync audio and visual notes

• An external laptop mic or Digital Voice Recorder to record lectures

• An allowance for printing or photocopying

• Access to a personal fridge to store medication

• Training on any recommended software

(please note that the support mentioned above is only indicative and is tailored to the individual student – not all support may be agreed by your funding body)

So if you are a student with diabetes, or you know someone who is and is thinking about or currently attending University, get in touch with Access2Learn to see whether DSA can help.

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