Study impaired ... this is how it works

Prospective students and students with impairments as well as representatives, advisors of students with impairments will find extensive information on the IBS web pages. This page serves as a quick orientation to the topics:


Students with impairments ... am I one of them?

Students may have various health impairments, both visible and non-visible. These impairments include, for example:

  • Chronic physical illnesses
  • Dyslexia or dyscalculia
  • Movement impairments
  • Mental illnesses
  • Visual, hearing or speech impairments

Do you have a health impairment and fear that you will have difficulty in your studies because of it? Or have you already experienced that strict attendance requirements, a lack of accessible teaching materials or prejudices because of your impairment hinder you in your studies? Then the following information may be important for you.

Information in German Sign Language

For further reading: Studying with a disability - do I belong?

Good to know ... there is information and advice available.

Information is available from the Information and Counseling Center for Studies and Disability (IBS) of the German Student Union.

The advisors on site will support you in asserting your rights and developing strategies with which you can overcome impairment-related difficulties:

  • the representatives and advisors for students with disabilities and chronic illnesses at the universities and student unions
  • the social counseling of the student unions
  • the psychological counseling of the student unions and universities
  • the disability departments of the student self-administration (e.g. AStA)

Counseling at your university: contact the representatives and counselors for students with disabilities

Information in German Sign Language

For further reading: Advice for students with disabilities / chronic illnesses

Good to know ... You have rights

You have a right to study without discrimination and with equal opportunities. This is regulated by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the German Basic Law, the Framework Act for Higher Education and the state higher education laws.

Universities have the task of creating accessibility - in access to buildings, in teaching or in communication. Wherever accessibility is not or cannot be guaranteed for all, appropriate provisions must be made. This includes disadvantage compensations. They are an instrument to compensate for barriers and disadvantages on an individual basis and to ensure equal opportunities. There are compensations for disadvantages in BAföG, in the admission procedure, for the course of studies and in examinations.

Information in German Sign Language

Read more: Legal basis

Into the studies ... this is how it works

Prepare: What do I want to study? Where do I want to study? Think about these questions regardless of your impairment. Your own abilities and interests are decisive.

Once your decision has been made, you should research the conditions at your desired university and place of study well: Are the teaching and learning spaces accessible? Are the required medical specialists available on site? Does the university have special offers for students with impairments?

University information days, campus tours or a so-called trial study offer a good opportunity to get to know the future place of study.

Apply: The same applies to prospective students with and without disabilities: The formal admission requirements must be met (e.g. Abitur).

If the desired course of study has admission restrictions, prospective students can increase their chances of admission by proving the serious effects of their impairment. The hardship application is particularly important. At many universities and at "" you can submit applications for compensation for disadvantages in addition to your application.

Plan enough time for the preparation of your studies and the application. It is also best to make an appointment with the representative of your chosen university. During the consultation, you can clarify how studying without barriers is possible for you, whether you meet the requirements for one of the applications when you apply, and what proof you need to provide for this.

Information in German Sign Language

For further reading: Application and admission

Through your studies ... Compensation for disadvantages

Compensation for disadvantages in studies are measures that compensate for difficulties in the course of studies and in examinations caused by impairments. Compensations for disadvantages are not awarded across the board, but are always individual and situation-related. They depend, for example, on the effects of the impairment and the respective subject of study. Compensations for disadvantages are also not facilitations. The performance objectives of the study and examination regulations remain the same.

Please note: You have the right to compensation for disadvantages, but not necessarily in the form you desire.

Examples: Examination times and deadlines can be extended, examinations can be moved to separate rooms or breaks can be arranged individually. After a longer stay in hospital or in case of high care needs, individual study plans help to adjust the study pace. Individual regulations regarding compulsory attendance are particularly relevant for chronically ill students. Clarify the options for your particular situation.

Application: Many compensations for disadvantages must be applied for in writing. As proof of an impairment that makes studying difficult, you can submit a medical certificate from a specialist, sometimes also from a family doctor, or a statement from your psychotherapist. You can find out how applications for compensation for disadvantages are regulated at your university by contacting the representatives. Individual counseling increases your chances of obtaining compensation for disadvantages.

Information in German Sign Language

For further reading: Compensation for disadvantages in studies and examinations

Through your studies ... teaching and learning

University buildings: Whether accessibility, orientation aids, induction loops or quiet rooms - structural accessibility is not yet a given everywhere. Commissioners can apply to the university for minor construction measures or the purchase of special equipment. Therefore, please contact the representatives with your needs in good time. If access to events cannot be provided, the lecturers should make arrangements for rescheduling.

Information, literature and learning materials: Accessibility standards also apply to digital and print media. They are not always met. Often you have to take care of a needs-based implementation or support yourself. This can usually be financed through integration assistance. Libraries often grant students with disabilities special lending and usage conditions.

Technical aids, study and communication assistance: The organization is usually in your hands. Financing is provided by the integration assistance. The type and extent depend on the individual impact of your impairment in your chosen course of study.

Reasonable accommodation in courses: lecturers and fellow students should take your needs into account appropriately. This may mean making sure everyone uses a microphone, verbalizing the images of a presentation, or providing you with lecture notes for preparation and follow-up. It may also mean adapting break arrangements to your needs or arranging office hours so that you can attend them.

Contact the lecturers with your needs at an early stage. Keep in mind that instructors depend on you to understand the specifics of your study situation. Ask for confidentiality and agree on what information may be shared with third parties. In the event of conflict, ask for assistance from the designees.

Information in German Sign Language

Read more: Teaching and learning and accessibility

Everyday study ... this is how it works

Housing: The student unions are a good address for barrier-free housing. In many places, they also take into account the needs of students with visual or hearing impairments or allergies. If you need an accessible room, you will usually be given priority for a place in a hall of residence. Please contact the dormitory administration as early as possible.

Eating: The refectories and cafeterias of the Studierendenwerke are mostly barrier-free. The student services also take into account the needs of students with allergies and food intolerances.

Mobility: Whether you use public transport, an adapted car or are good on foot - your local mobility should be clarified before you start your studies. If you need an impairment-related parking space on university property, contact the designees or university administration. In addition, guide dogs for the blind may be taken into university rooms, residence halls, or dining halls.

Information in German Sign Language

For further reading: Everyday Study

Financing ... this is how it works

BAföG: BAföG is also the top priority for students with impairments when it comes to financing their living expenses and their own funds are not sufficient. For some requirements of the BAföG you can apply for a disadvantage compensation. This is possible, for example, with regard to the age limit, the allowances for income and assets or the maximum duration of funding. You can also apply for a disadvantage compensation when changing your course of studies, if an impairment makes this necessary.

Special life situations: semesters off due to illness, studying part-time, increased living expenses due to an impairment, or the loss of all sources of funding shortly before the end of studies - for some life situations, there is no BAföG. In individual cases, you can receive benefits from the Jobcenter.

Integration assistance: Study and communication assistance, technical aids or mobility aids can be financed through integration assistance for disabled people if your own resources are not sufficient. It is important that the supports are available at the beginning of the studies and cover the needs.

Scholarships: The major foundations for the gifted (e.g. foundations of political parties and churches) are obliged to pay special attention to the needs of impaired students. A few small foundations specifically support students with impairments.

Questions about funding quickly become very complex. The social counseling service of your student union will advise you.

Information in German Sign Language

For further reading: Funding

In between ... abroad

Study stays and internships abroad can be crucial for a good degree and for starting a career. Do not forego them.

You should prepare a stay abroad well. Clarify the circumstances and support options on site, the financing of living expenses and additional expenses, for technical and personal assistance as well as the assumption of costs for care and medical treatment. Begin planning at least one year in advance.

Inclusion assistance for study assistance and technical aids is also available abroad in individual cases. In all programs funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) - including the EU's "Erasmus+" scholarship program - special funding is available for students with impairments.

Information in German Sign Language

To read more: Study Abroad