Our blog post this week is written by guest blogger Ellen Gibbins who is an ‘Outreach and Retention Administrator’ at the University of Exeter. She is providing all prospective students with information on ‘declaring a disability’ to the university and also within your application for accommodation:
What do we mean by ‘Declaring a disability’?
‘Declaring a disability’ can sound intimidating, especially when you might be looking forward to starting your time at university free from preconceptions or labels. However, when you come to Exeter ‘declaring your disability’ simply means that appropriate services and departments within the University will know that you may have some additional requirements to allow you to achieve your full potential. It serves no other function than to ensure you receive the appropriate support for your situation, and it doesn’t disadvantage you at all – your rights are fully protected by the Equalities Act 2010.
Who do I contact?
The term ‘disability’ covers a range of conditions, and if you feel that you may have a disability, even if it is undiagnosed, it is a good idea to get in touch with Wellbeing Services at the University to discuss your options. The Mental Health team support students with mental health conditions, and the AccessAbility team support students with any other disabilities, such as dyslexia, physical disabilities, and sensory impairments. If you haven’t been diagnosed we can offer advice and general guidance, and once you have a diagnosis we will be able to put appropriate study support in place.
What happens next?
Your support will be organised through the creation of an Individual Learning Plan (ILP), which is a personalised support plan based on a discussion of your needs and relevant medical evidence or diagnostic reports that you provide. Your ILP can include measures such as exam adjustments and deadline extensions, and will be shared with relevant departments and individuals within the University (for example your college and lecturers) in order to provide you with the best support. If you have specific accommodation requirements as a result of your disability or health condition Wellbeing Services can also support your application with the Accommodation team, on receipt of appropriate medical evidence and as long as you state within your accommodation application that you have spoken to one of our support services.
Declaring your disability to Wellbeing Services allows us to share your information appropriately, whereas if you decide not to declare your disability we cannot do so, and this limits how much support you can receive.
When should I declare a disability?
If you are a prospective student, it is best to make the University aware of your disability as soon as you can prior to your arrival, as we can then make every effort to put support in place for you by the time that you arrive. Our Prospective Student online form allows you to give details of any support you have had in the past and to upload relevant medical evidence, and one of our team will then be in touch with you to discuss your support options.
If you are a current student and you would like to declare a disability, please contact Wellbeing Services in order to make an appointment.
Is there any financial support available?
You may also consider applying for Disabled Students’ Allowance if you are a student from the United Kingdom, as if eligible you can receive a wide variety of extra support depending on your disability.
Please do contact Wellbeing Services if you have any questions or concerns about declaring your disability; we are here to help make your time at Exeter as successful as possible, so get in touch!
Ellen Gibbins – Outreach and Retention Administrator (Wellbeing Services)