Disabled Students and Equality & Diversity
In keeping with current UK legislation, the University of Nottingham takes the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA, 1995) very seriously, hence the University welcomes applications from all students and aims to provide a high level of support and guidance from first enquiry to graduation. The University aims to support all international disabled students in their chosen course in respect of educational resources, whereas home students are eligible to claim for a nationally funded Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) which covers education and accommodation.
All staff employed by the University are required to abide by the DDA 1995 and any subsequent amendments. There are a number of key elements to the legislation that all staff should be aware of; these include:
1) - Reasonable Adjustments
The University Estates Department provides reasonable adjustments to the physical environment where appropriate. However disabled students are usually eligible for reasonable adjustments once they have disclosed their disability to the University through Academic Support. These adjustments may include anything from the provision of documents in large print through to additional time in assessments. Academic Support will assess a disabled student's requirements (once they have disclosed) and recommend any reasonable adjustments necessary through a discussion with the student. Each School’s Disability Liaison Officer (DLO) will usually be the person who disseminates that information to relevant staff within their School/Department. A reasonable adjustment is one that does not affect academic standards, but removes barriers to the student participating effectively in teaching and assessment.
2) - Anticipatory Duty
All members of staff (both full time and part time) have an anticipatory duty under the DDA 1995. Staff need to consider the possible impact that a student’s disability may have when they undertake their role at the University.
Certain disabilities may have very little impact on a students studies, and this will depend on each individual. However, considerations should be taken when delivering / designing a course, course materials, presentations, experiments, assignments, assessment criteria, web pages, examination materials and access to buildings.
Not all disabilities are externally visible, thus you are unlikely to know who has a disability and who hasn’t. However, if you operate by general ‘Good Practice’ principals the number of barriers faced by disabled people will be reduced; these principals not only help disabled students and staff but generally they will help the majority of students.
3) – Disclosure and Confidentiality
The University encourages all disabled students to disclose their disability, although it is a student's right not to. If a student does not disclose their disability, it is unlikely that they will receive additional support or reasonable adjustments that go beyond the ‘Good Practice’ that all staff should offer. Therefore if you know a disabled student who has not formally disclosed their disability, it would be helpful to discuss this option with them, or advise them to contact Academic Support or the School’s Disability Liaison Officer. The student may not realise what support they are entitled to receive.
4) – Good Practice
Many barriers are reduced for disabled students, as well as international students, if staff use Good Practice in their role. Most of Good Practice is just common sense and covers everything from the layout of written documents to the language used in the classroom.
For example, if a document is not structured clearly with white space incorporated, then it becomes difficult to read by many people, but especially by dyslexic students. Also, when presenting, lecturing or speaking it is always advisable to face your audience. You may not know whether anyone in the audience has a hearing impairment and lip-reads to back up the verbal information they receive. Hence, if you turn away from your audience and continue to speak, then a person with a hearing impairment will not have access to that information and this can be seen as discriminatory.
For more information or training on Good Practice, visit Professional Development , Central Short Courses and the Disability Policy Advisory Unit .
Equality and Diversity: Inclusive Teaching
Inclusive teaching is, in essence, having a critical understanding of your own teaching and assessment strategies, and of the ways in which all learners might experience them. The need for this has been highlighted in recent years because:
Students from across the world travel to Nottingham to study, and UK students may come from a wider set of backgrounds than previously.
UK disability legislation requires that disabled student’s needs be anticipated and integrated into curricular and teaching design.
Inclusive learning and teaching methods generally support equality and diversity agendas, because teachers are recognising and accommodating the learning needs of all their students. Therefore inclusive teaching recognises that students have diverse learning needs and creates environments which take account of them.
It is important that reflection on teaching activities, rather than using stereotypes, informs teaching and assessment methods. You will need to think about some of the following:
Responding to the needs of disabled students
Using a range of teaching and assessment methods
Regularly reviewing your own teaching and assessment activities
Recognising different learning styles
Matching provision to student needs
Using appropriate case studies, exercises, examples etc
Responding to people as individuals rather than stereotypes
Drawing on all the previous knowledge and experience of students
You might also find that an adjustment made for one learner actually benefits all learners – for example, you might talk through a diagram because that supports visually impaired students learning, and find that this makes the diagram more accessible to all in a group.