Student Disability Service

Handling student disclosure

Information and guidance on what members of staff should do if a student discloses a disability, health condition or Specific Learning Difference (e.g. dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder, autistic spectrum).

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What should I do if a student discloses a disability, Specific Learning Difference or health condition to me?

Students frequently disclose a disability, health condition or Specific Learning Difference (e.g. dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder, autistic spectrum) to staff members they know. The information below suggests the steps that should be followed before any actions can be taken. It is particularly important that staff know how to handle a student’s request for confidentiality (see point 4 below).

When a student discloses a disability we would suggest that the following steps are taken:

1. Evidence

Advise the student that they need to provide some form of evidence if this is impacting upon their course work and they require some adjustments e.g. extensions to deadlines. Guidance regarding acceptable types of evidence is available at the link below. Please note that evidence is always required, no matter how obvious the disability.

2. Temporary disabilities

If the disability or injury is of a temporary nature, often this can be managed appropriately at departmental level. The Student Disability Service is pleased to offer any additional guidance if required.

3. Permanent or long-term disabilities

If the disability/health matter or Learning Difference is more permanent in nature, we would recommend that the student contact the Student Disability Service. This would ensure that any issues are fully evaluated and appropriate support can be put in place.

4. Student insists on confidentiality

If the student insists that the matter be treated in confidence, it is still essential that they provide evidence to you.

Whilst any student is entitled to request confidentiality, it can be helpful if you discuss the pros and cons of disclosure. You should therefore explain that only limited support can be offered at departmental level, and this may not be adequate to ensure that they can complete their studies. However, staff in the Student Disability Service are keen to ensure that any issues affecting their learning are identified and supported.

5. Helping distressed students

If you have serious concerns about a student’s emotional wellbeing e.g. if you think that they could harm themselves or others, and they still request confidentiality, Health and Safety concerns would override this request.  There is further information regarding this issue and the range of available supports in the “Helping Distressed Students” publication.