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How to Support Disabled Students

Guidance for staff on how to support disabled students and where to find information.

How to respond to a student

If a student discloses a disability, mental health condition or long-term health condition staff are encouraged to respond sensitively, reassuring the student that University support is available to help them succeed in their studies. Some students may not be aware of this, or staff may be unsure if the condition qualifies them for support. All students are welcome to meet with the Disability Service to informally discuss their individual circumstances and identify any Reasonable Adjustments that may be suitable.

The Disability Service are unable to diagnose conditions, but can signpost students to appropriate diagnostic pathways or referrals.

Some students choose to disclose a disability directly to their academic department, rather than via the Disability Service. To ensure we fulfil our legal duty to support disabled students, we encourage staff to ensure students contact us to discuss their support needs.

Contacting the Disability Service

Staff can contact the Disability Service via the Student Support helpdesk on 01225 383838 or email

Students are encouraged to book their own appointments with the Disability Service. They can do this via the Student Support helpdesk in 4 West.

What the Disability Team will do

What happens in a Disability Advice appointment?

A Disability Adviser discusses the impact of a student’s disability on their studies and works with them to identify suitable support available and any Reasonable Adjustments needed on their course.

What is a Disability Access Plan (DAP)?

A Disability Access Plan (DAP) identifies Reasonable Adjustments to help students fulfil their academic potential and reduce the impact of their disability on their studies.

DAPs are written by Disability Advisers in consultation with students, where evidence of a disability and/or long-term health condition is provided, often involving discussion with their department. Recommendations for support are tailored to students’ needs and their course requirements.

We encourage students to regularly discuss and review the content of their DAP with their department and the Disability Service. Please see our guide for more information on DAPS.

What is the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)?

DSA is a government funded support for Home UK students to help meet the extra course costs students face because of a disability, such as specialist equipment or 1:1 specialist support such as a Study Skills Tutor or Mentor. Students not eligible for DSA can receive comparable support, funded via the University.

What is a Needs Assessment?

Students eligible for DSA are required to attend a Needs Assessment (external to the University) to discuss the impact of their disability on their studies and make recommendations for support to be provided through DSA. Needs Assessments take place nationwide and there is no cost to students for attending one.

What are the responsibilities of staff?

The University's Disabled Students policy outlines roles and responsibilities for staff supporting disabled students.

Colleagues in academic departments are responsible for viewing DAPs and implementing the recommended Reasonable Adjustments or considering alternative methods of supporting disabled students. Reasonable Adjustments are suggested modifications or considerations to teaching and learning that enable disabled students to access their course. This may include practical requirements such as changes to the formatting of course related information, or considerations to be aware of when teaching students with particular needs.

Some students will require a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) or Risk Assessment. This will be recommended on a DAP, but the Department may also identify a need for particular students. There is guidance on the University website for completing a PEEP.

Good practice in supporting disabled students

Disabled students may benefit from slightly modified teaching techniques and learning tools. The following guides have been created to help staff:

The Centre for Learning & Teaching also supports staff in the delivery of high-quality learning and teaching.

If you have concerns about a disabled student

Please contact the Disability Service via the Student Support helpdesk on 01225 383838 or email

If you have concerns about any student, please call the Student Support advice line on 01225 384321 or extension 4321.

In exceptional circumstances, you may be concerned about a student’s ability to study or significant concerns about the impact of their disability. Further guidance about the Health, Wellbeing and Support for Study process is available on the University website.


If you have any questions, please contact us.

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