It is important for the University to create an environment that encourages students to disclose a disability; disability disclosure is in everyone’s best interest. Disclosure enables the student to access any additional support they may need to enable them to effectively participate on their course, and it increases the chances of them obtaining a successful academic outcome, positively reflecting on the University’s reputation.
The more effort your department can make in creating a safe and comfortable atmosphere in which to disclose, the more likely students are to be honest and open. Students can sometimes be reluctant to disclose for various reasons; they may not see any benefit in disclosing, or they may have experienced hostility or prejudice in the past. As DDC, you can help your colleagues create an environment within your department that proactively encourages students to declare their disability.
You can do this by:
- ensuring an open and supportive culture in which students feel comfortable in disclosing their disabilities
- asking questions on application forms
- publicising the provision available to students with disabilities
- facilitating pre-entry visits for applicants with disabilities where possible
- providing information on physical accessibility (LINK TO DISABLED GO)
- ensuring disabled students are visible and represented in marketing and publicity material
- providing opportunities for disclosure and privacy in which to disclose
Responding to disclosure
If a student discloses a disability to you it is important that you know how to appropriately respond. The following guidance outlines what you should do if a student discloses a disability to you:
Information relating to a disability is classified as “sensitive personal data” under the Data Protection Act and should be treated and stored as such. Students should be advised that the information will only be shared with the relevant people in order to ensure adjustments are made. Please refer to the guidance above for further information on how to deal with a situation in which a student does not want you to pass on the disclosed information.