Disability statement for students

Introduction

The School of Advanced Study aims to provide an environment where everyone can access its programmes and activities – conferences, workshops and seminars, library provision (through the University of London Research Library Services), and teaching programmes. The School welcomes all students who are academically qualified and motivated to benefit from the programmes we offer through the member Institutes. This Statement summarises the arrangements we have put in place to minimise the barriers to study posed by disability, and will help you judge whether the School might be the right place for you to study.

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Disability and special needs access

The Disability Discrimination Act Part 4 (DDA) covers a wide range of conditions.  It may be helpful to you even if you have never really considered yourself as having a disability.  It includes people who have a long-term disability (lasting or expected to last for at least 12 months) which has a significant effect on their ability to study, such as:

  • physical disability (e.g. limitations to dexterity or mobility)
  • sensory (visual, hearing)
  • impairment mental health difficulties chronic illness (e.g. asthma, epilepsy, diabetes)
  • medical conditions, which may cause pain or other symptoms, which affect your studies (e.g. side effects of treatment, poor attention, poor concentration)
  • Asperger’s Syndrome/Autism Spectrum Disorder specific learning difficulties (e.g. dyslexia, dyspraxia).

The DDA requires us to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that individuals are not placed at a substantial disadvantage in comparison to someone who is not disabled.  There are some limits but in practice, according to an individual’s needs, “reasonable adjustments” can be almost anything; examples could be:

  • ensuring that your classes are scheduled in suitable rooms
  • arranging an alternative room for you to meet your research supervisor or tutor if their office is not accessible
  • making sure that you can access necessary facilities on your own computer
  • allowing you to record lectures or have copies of handouts in large print format adjusting assessment deadlines or the way you submit work for assessment (provided that the academic standard required for success is the same as for other students)
  • helping with access to special equipment.

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About the School

The School has approximately 300 students registered each year, with approximately 5% declaring disabilities. Each of the Institutes in the School forms its own academic community, with between 15 and 80 students. Tutorial, lecture and seminar sizes are relatively small, so that people know and support each other.

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Disability services

The School has an external disability advisor who provides information, advice and support on disability issues to all School of Advanced Study students and potential students. The Disability Advisor also advises staff on improving accessibility of the curriculum and teaching as well as buildings and facilities.

The disability advisor will make contact with or meet with the student to discuss support available. The advisor will develop a support form outlining the support available for the student and communicates the information, with the permission of the student to the course and relevant staff. The disability advisor will also provide information on the disabled students’ allowance.

Students can seek confidential advice and support from the Disability Advisor. No information will be passed to academic departments or other parts of the university without the permission of the student. However if information is not passed on this may restrict the adjustments that are able to be made.

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Access to buildings

The Institutes of Classical Studies, Commonwealth Studies, English Studies, Germanic and Romance Studies, Historical Research, Musical Research, Philosophy and Institute for the Study of the Americas are all located in the Senate House-Stewart House complex. Senate House is a listed building, there are some limitations to the alterations that can be made but there are ramps, lifts, and accessible toilets, and there is ongoing work to improve accessibility.  Wheelchair users and those with reduced mobility are able to access all necessary facilities although it is not always easy for them to do so in a fully independent way.  Some teaching and meeting rooms are equipped with a fixed induction loop system for hearing-impaired students, and there is a mobile induction loop system for use elsewhere. 

The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and the Warburg Institute are in nearby buildings which have ramps, lifts, and accessible toilets.  Again, although wheelchair users and those with reduced mobility are able to access all necessary facilities, it is not always easy for them to do so in a fully independent way.

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Applications

If you are considering an application to the School you may find it helpful to discuss access confidentially with the Student Administrator in the relevant Institute before applying. Application forms and application information can be supplied in alternative formats.

When an application form is received, an initial assessment is made of whether you satisfy the academic requirements for the programme you are interested in. The application form invites you to say whether you have special access or support needs and asks that you provide the information on a separate sheet. Applicants who declare a disability on the application form will be contacted by the Disability Advisor to seek further information. This is to help us make reasonable adjustments.

This information is treated as confidential and is retained by the Disability Advisor until after your application has been considered on its academic merits. Disability is not a factor in making the judgement about whether you should be offered a place. 

If you already have expert assessments of your needs, it is useful to send the relevant papers. The Institutes do not always interview applicants before offering them a place so you may find it helpful to visit the Institute to discuss your needs and to help you decide for yourself whether the physical and learning environment is right for you. If you visit, you will normally meet the Student Administrator and the academic co-ordinator for the relevant programme.

Information which you provide about your disability (as an applicant or as a student) is not, without your consent, disclosed to other students, or to anyone who does not need to know.  However, the School has a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments to meet your need, and to make these it is usually appropriate for some people to know about your disability.  Legally, the School is “deemed to know” about your disability if it is obvious, or if you have told us about it.  If you ask us not to inform other staff, we will discuss the implications of that decision with you.  Also, for health and safety reasons, you should make known to tutors and fellow students any disability that would prevent you from responding to an emergency evacuation.

Like other academic institutions, we maintain records of the number of students with disabilities, and whether they are known to receive a Disabled Student Allowance (DSA). The DSA is administered by Local Education Authorities (LEA). Access to this information on the student records database is restricted to the student administration.  The reason for keeping such records is to enable us to monitor the data in order to check that we are not, unwittingly, discriminating against any particular category of applicants.  For other purposes (such as submitting statistics to the Higher Education Statistics Agency) the information is aggregated and presented anonymously.

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Information for study

When you register as a student, you receive documentation such as a student handbook, a handbook for your programme of study, copies of the regulations, and other essential information.  Your Support Needs Form should highlight whether you need these documents in alternative formats.  If we know in advance, they can be available at the same time as all other students receive the information.  Similarly, handouts issued during your course would be made available in other formats.

Admissions tutors are expected to seek advice from the Disability Advisor whenever there is a concern about the impact of a disability on a student’s ability to follow a course.

The limitations of physical access to parts of the School’s buildings are discussed with potential students for whom access may pose difficulties. 

It is possible to arrange for new students with impaired vision to be accompanied both within the building and to the tube station or bus stop, until they have become familiar with these routes.  Your Institute can help arrange this in conjunction with Camden’s Sensory Disabilities Team.

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Library services

The University of London Research Library Services (comprising the Senate House Library and the Institute Libraries) combined catalogue is available online with access for registered students to online research resources and journals. If you have disabilities which affect your use of libraries, arrangements will be made for you to meet relevant library staff to discuss how best to help you. The Warburg Institute Library, in Woburn Square, and the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Library, in Russell Square, have ramped access. The libraries of Historical Research and Classical Studies, Germanic, Commonwealth, Latin American and United States collections and the Romance, English, and Philosophy collections are all located in Senate House.

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Senate House Library (SHL)

Access by lift is available to all major open-access areas. Staff assistance is made available to users where physical mobility is a problem. This includes assistance with wheelchairs, using computers, locating and fetching material, and photocopying. A postal service is offered for loanable texts and ordered photocopy offprints, the latter can be delivered as electronic attachments via e-mail. An e-mail enquiry service (enquiries@shl.ac.uk) is available.

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Using computers

The School Computer Room is currently located on the second floor of Senate House. There is ramp and lift access and a manned reception. Additional computers are available in the ULRLS libraries. Disabled students, including many dyslexic students, who qualify for the DSA may receive support for computer purchase. Remote e-mail access and web access to the Library’s electronic research resources and journals are available via the internet. Advice on personal computer adaptation can be obtained free from AbilityNet . AbilityNet will also carry out assessments of individual need. It is not possible to alter the set-up of the computers in the School’s Computer Room but your personal profile could be adapted to your needs – please contact your Student Administrator to discuss this.

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Personal assistance schemes

If you have a disability which requires personal care – for example a carer, or a note-taker – you may already be receiving financial support for this, through the DSA. The School can help you to find assistance but you will need to pay the cost, through the support funding you get.

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Support for students with specific learning difficulties (e.g. dyslexia)

If you have already been diagnosed as dyslexic, you should bring your needs assessment or diagnostic report because it may help us to identify the best ways of supporting you. Your LEA may also ask for a reassessment before you can be considered for the DSA. Some students discover for the first time that they are dyslexic when they have already started their studies. If you - or we - suspect that you may be dyslexic, we can advise you on how to get a dyslexia assessment. It may be possible to get ALF support (see below) for the cost of your dyslexia assessment, and the assessment may result in funding through the DSA, which may pay for special support sessions or for equipment.

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Changes in circumstances

Occasionally, a disability may be diagnosed after you have registered, or you may develop a condition which disables you, either permanently or temporarily. If this happens, you should notify your tutor or the Institute’s Student Administrator. This is especially important if your disability would not otherwise be obvious. Reasonable arrangements will be made to support you.

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Assessment

If your disability affects your capacity to undertake a particular piece of assessment in the same way, or at the same time, as other students, then reasonable adjustments can be made. The requirements should be discussed when you first register as a student. In some cases, arrangements may be made within each assessment or course. The University’s Examinations Office and the Institute’s Higher Degree or Research Degree Committee will consider arrangements to provide for disabled students. Arrangements could include enlarged print papers, rest periods, extra time, an amanuensis, special seating or separate invigilation. Alternative methods of assessing the same learning can sometimes be arranged. Written course assessments usually have quite a long lead time. Sometimes assessment involves oral seminar presentations. If the nature of your disability places you at a disadvantage in these pieces of assessed work it may be possible to make some adjustment, either to the deadline or, in some cases, to the way you present the work. It is important to discuss alternatives as early as possible – as soon as the work is set, or at least well before the deadline. We may make adjustments, but we will not change the academic standards required to pass.

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Careers advice

The University of London Careers Group can advise on the legal aspects of disability and employment, give information on organisations providing specialised advice for disabled individuals, as well as information on jobs, postgraduate study, issues of disclosure, and specialist equipment. The Careers Group staff will provide one-to-one advice and respond to letter, e-mail or telephone enquiries. Any information disclosed is treated as confidential. The Careers Library contains reference files specifically for students with disabilities covering general information, employment, education, and training. The Careers Group are based in Malet Street (Stewart House and the ULU building).

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Transport

Most people access Senate House and the Bloomsbury area by public transport. Some disabled people living in the London area may be eligible for a London Transport Freedom Pass (www.freedompass.org) which allows free travel on public transport; the borough where you live will be able to tell you if you are eligible. There are a number of underground stations near to the School and many buses, but the streets and the transport tend to be crowded, and may pose some difficulties for some disabled people. Transport for London’s Access and Mobility unit has information about schemes such as Dial-a-Ride and Taxicard for subsidised door-to-door transport for people who have serious mobility impairment and difficulty in using public transport:

Access & Mobility, Transport for London

Windsor House, 42/50 Victoria Street, London, SW1H 0TL

E: travinfo@tfl.gov.uk

T: 020 7222 1234 

Textphone: 020 7918 3015

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Parking

Facilities Management Helpdesk, Senate House Reception: reception@lon.ac.uk

There are some disabled parking spaces at Senate House. Only vehicles issued with a disabled permit will be eligible for parking in the designated disabled spaces. Disabled drivers should book a parking space 48 hours in advance, with details of the date and duration for which the space is required together with your vehicle details. Please make the Helpdesk operator aware if assistance will be required on arrival. Your details will be maintained on the Helpdesk database for future bookings. Your Student Administrator can help with contacting Facilities Management.

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Emergency evacuation

If you have a disability which might cause delay in recognising or responding to an emergency alarm a personal emergency evacuation plan will be agreed with the University Safety Officer. If your disability is likely to affect your ability to evacuate the building, we should notify your tutors of your evacuation plan, so that others know how to help you in an emergency.

(Both these London Travel Information lines are open 24 hours)

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Residential accommodation

The School’s students are eligible to apply for accommodation in the University of London Intercollegiate Halls: two of these (Canterbury Hall and Hughes Parry Hall in Cartwright Gardens) can provide for wheelchair users, and have street level entrances and modern lifts. All eight of them make specific provision for students with other disabilities, including those with sight and hearing difficulties, and restricted mobility. Wardens oversee the residences. Disabled students can usually get access if they apply early enough as they fall outside of the quota system. Dedicated rooms are kept free by the Halls for allocation to disabled students until the beginning of the academic year. Applications should be made via the SAS Registry, once you have been offered a place, which will support your application. The University of London Housing Services has a database of private accommodation for rent and can give advice on finding accommodation. A section for disabled students, with information on private accommodation, can be found here.

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Financial help for disabled students

You may find that, because of your disability, you incur additional costs as a student. This section summarises two sources of financial help for disabled students.

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Disabled students’ allowance (DSA)

UK (home) students may be eligible for the Disabled Students’ Allowance from their LEA. There is one DSA allowance for postgraduate students to meet disability-related course costs of up to £5,500. More information is available from the Directgov website. As a general guide, to be eligible for the DSA you must:

  • have been resident in the for three years immediately before the start of your course, and have “settled status” in the UK (although there are some special arrangements for European Economic Area migrant workers and for refugees)
  • be taking an eligible full time course
  • if you are taking a part time course, the course must last more than a year, but must not take more than twice as long to complete as the equivalent full-time course.

The DSA is not means-tested, and there is no age limit. You can get an application form from your LEA. If you do not already have a disability needs assessment, the local authority will usually require this, and you may have to pay for the assessment yourself.

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Access to learning fund (ALF)

The School receives a small amount of money each year from the government to alleviate unexpected financial hardship. The fund is available to home students. You can apply for help from ALF, once registered on a course, at any time during the academic year. Disabled students are encouraged to apply to ALF especially where the DSA is unable to meet particular costs – such as help towards the cost of the preliminary diagnostic test for dyslexia prior to applying for a DSA.

More information is available at: www.dfes.gov.uk/studentsupport/students

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The student’s responsibilities

Please:

  • let us know about your needs in good time so that we have the appropriate opportunity to address those needs
  • give both positive and negative feedback so that we can improve our services - let us know if the recommendations for your support are not carried out and you do not receive alternative format handouts, for example
  • let us know if your situation changes and you need more, or different kinds, of support.

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Feedback and contact

Feedback, comments and suggestions, in confidence if preferred, can be made to your Institute Student Administrator or to the Disability Advisor or to the School of Advanced Study Registrar, Rachel Stickland rachel.stickland@sas.ac.uk

This statement can be provided in alternative formats.

Updated July 2010

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