Student Disability Disclosure Policy
Why is it important for students to disclose information about disability to the University?
The University is obliged, under the Equality Act 2010, to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled students are not placed at a disadvantage as a result of their disability. Some adjustments can only be put in place if we know about a student’s disability and are able to pass relevant information to the members of staff who will make the adjustment.
For some students disclosing a disability is straightforward or their disability may be obvious. Other students may be reluctant to disclose their disability because it is hidden, because it is newly acquired or identified, because they do not think of themselves as disabled, or from fear of discrimination. As students and applicants are not obliged to disclose their disability, it is important to foster an environment and culture which encourages disclosure.
What is the purpose of the Student Disability Disclosure Policy?
Students and applicants may tell the University about a disability in a variety of contexts. As a result of such a disability disclosure, which can be either oral or written and to any member of staff, the University as a whole could be deemed to know that the student is disabled.
Information about disability is also sensitive personal data under the Data Protection Act 1998, and such information is subject to additional safeguards. In these circumstances, there are implications for the University in terms of how it records and stores such information, how it disseminates the information and what happens should a student ask that the disclosure be kept completely confidential.
The policy provides guidance to staff in the University on appropriate management of disability disclosures and information on the management of disability data within the University. The full policy is available below.
What should I do if a student discloses a disability to me?
The policy illustrates at what points students may tell the university about their disability. If the first time a student discloses is to an individual member of staff there is a ‘Disability Disclosure Confidentiality Agreement Form’ that should be completed. This form should be completed if a student is disclosing his/her disability to the University for the first time or a student has already disclosed a disability but wishes to change the level of confidentiality assigned to the disclosure.
Completing the form ensures that members of staff who need to know about a student’s disability in order to make reasonable adjustments are passed relevant information. The form also provides written confirmation from a student about the level of confidentiality he/she wishes to be assigned to the disclosure of a disability, in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.
A copy of this form is available below.
Confidentiality and disclosure
There are two levels confidentiality:
• Consent to share: the people who reasonably need to know, for instance to teach or support the student effectively, can be given the information necessary to perform their role. The information will be kept confidential to those people.
• Completely confidential: access is restricted to the person to whom the student disclosed their disability. This may limit the adjustments which can be made and some adjustments may be impossible. Alternative adjustments may be possible that that ensure the disclosure remains private while still meeting the needs of the student as far as reasonably possible
There is guidance for staff available on completing the form which explains the possible impact of these levels of confidentiality on making adjustments. The guidance and form are available below.
Though you may find it useful to keep a brief note of any discussion, do not fill out the disclosure form if:
• the student has disclosed his/her disability to anyone else, including the Disability and Dyslexia Service or during the admissions process;
• the student is disclosing the same disability to a new member of staff;
• the student is not disabled; for example, a student with a broken leg or suffering from flu. However, your department/service may choose to develop a policy about managing requests from such students.
Disability Disclosure and supporting documentation
There is no requirement on a student to support his or her disability disclosure with documentary evidence. Evidence may be required prior to deciding on making some adjustments and will be sought by the Disability and Dyslexia Service.