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5.3 Disabled students (including students with dyslexia and mental health problems)

All academic advisers need to be aware of the new duty to promote disability equality, introduced by the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 (DDA, 2005) and absorbed into the Equality Act 2010. The definition of disability under the Act is wide: “a person has a disability if s/he has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his/her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.” This includes long-term medical conditions such as ME, repetitive strain injury and diabetes and some from the point of diagnosis (cancer, HIV/AIDS), as well as neurodiverse conditions such as dyslexia and dyspraxia.

Five priorities for academic advisers are:

  • not to discriminate against disabled students;
  • to invite your students to disclose disabilities, and, if they do, ensure that they are fully aware of the services available;
  • to be responsive to guidance in Individual Student Support Agreements (ISSAs);
  • to put in place “reasonable adjustments” as recorded in ISSAs – these are designed to diminish barriers and enable students to benefit fully from their educational experience;
  • to be proactive and inclusive, ensuring equality of opportunity for all students.