LSE is positive about disability as an aspect of diversity, and acknowledges that isabled students have often overcome additional barriers in order to achieve a place.
A student may have a visible impairment and/or may choose to disclose to you. Disclosure should be encouraged, by promoting the benefits of accessing services. An open invitation in orientation talks, early tutorials or first lectures is appropriate. Home students may be eligible for a Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) from their local authority. The School also receives some additional funding on a per capita basis for students in receipt of DSAs; therefore, it is very much in the student’s and the School’s interests to encourage disclosure.
Once a student has disclosed, it is important to follow through. The obvious first step is to encourage the student to contact the Disability and Well-being Service (DWS) – for details see the DWS website. Departmental tutors and academic advisers can also seek guidance in supporting the student’s education. The DWS also manages funding to put certain adjustments in place for EU/International students not eligible for DSAs.
Legislation states that even if only one staff member knows, the institution is deemed to know and has a responsibility to actively promote equality of opportunity for that student. At the same time, the student has a right to confidentiality through the Data Protection Act. In some circumstances, a student may disclose to you but ask you not to pass this information to anyone else. In this situation, a form to record the decision can be downloaded from the DWS website (lse.ac.uk/disability).
Students who come to the DWS have an interview with the adviser, who will then put together (with the student’s input) an Individual Student Support Agreement (ISSA). See Appendix 4 for an example. This is a record of any necessary adjustments/resources required. Copies are kept in the DWS and will be distributed, with the explicit consent of the student, to relevant School personnel and reviewed as necessary. A departmental tutor, academic adviser or class teacher may be given a copy of a student’s ISSA, which might recommend arrangements (see Section 5.3b) or other adjustments as appropriate. This needs to be read carefully, and further discussion, advice and/or assistance sought as necessary, or alternative suggestions made.
Note: As the student has the right to confidentiality, they may choose to disclose to the DWS and not to their department/advisers. This does not mean that nothing needs to be done. Proactive steps still need to be taken to support disabled students, encourage disclosure and promote equality. Also, students may choose to disclose at any point during the academic year. As such, staff can receive an ISSA at any time. Occasionally “adjustments” may be made without specific reference to a given student. For example, a student with chronic fatigue, timetabled on an upper floor of a building with unreliable lifts may request that lectures are moved to a more accessible venue. This change could be done without needing to identify the student.