Disability Advisory Service
The service's over-arching goal is to work with students and staff to create an accessible and inclusive learning environment for students with disabilities. This includes providing advice on individual reasonable adjustments designed to remove or reduce barriers to learning.
While collaboration between all parts of the collegiate University, including the Disability Advisory Service, is a key theme of provision at Oxford, it is important to note that overarching responsibility for decision-making in respect of reasonable adjustments rests with the appropriate body legally responsible for meeting the requirements of the Equality Act; colleges in matters relating to college provision, and the University in matters relating to departments and faculties. Disability Advisory Service recommendations are made in order to support colleges and the University as they consider their obligations to make reasonable adjustments.
The role of the Disability Advisory Service is to:
- provide advice and guidance to students with disabilities about study-related matters;
- make recommendations about inclusive practice and individual reasonable adjustments for students with disabilities and collaborate with all parties to support implementation;
- provide advice and information to staff working with individual disabled students, respecting appropriate confidentiality requirements;
- promote inclusive practice and compliance with the legal responsibilities across the collegiate University in respect of students with disabilities;
- engage with the student voice through liaison with OUSU and other interested student groups.
Disabled staff can find information about sources of support at work through the Equality and Diversity Unit.
The role of the Disability Advisory Service in supporting students
The Disability Advisory Service is available to prospective and on-course students of the University, including both matriculated and non-matriculated students. All on-course students registered with the service will be allocated a disability advisor, who will work with them and co-ordinate any necessary support. The Disability Advisory Service will:
- Provide information and advice to disabled students on study-related matters. This includes guidance on: establishing evidence of disability to meet University guidelines; accessing funding for disability-related study support; considering the impact of a disability on study and potential adjustments;
- Support students who contact the service with concerns about previously un-diagnosed disabilities and direct them to appropriate services for further investigation if necessary;
- Prepare a Student Support Plan, in collaboration with the student, to summarise recommendations for reasonable adjustments, including examination adjustments, using appropriate specialist evidence. The Disability Advisory Service will provide students with a copy of the plan so they can share it with staff directly if they wish but will also share it with relevant disability co-ordinators;
- Respond to student requests to review, amend or develop support provision in light of new circumstances or evidence;
- Co-ordinate provision of in-house support workers where appropriate.
The role of the Disability Advisory Service in providing advice and guidance for staff working with students with disabilities is to:
- contact prospective students who declare a disability and seek to gather early evidence of need to advise colleagues of reasonable adjustments in advance of a student’s arrival in Oxford;
- provide guidance where requested on anticipatory inclusive practice;
- identify a member of the Disability Advisory Service team to be a first point of contact for staff at each college. This person will lead on the co-ordination with the college in disability matters. Where departmental colleagues have questions about a particular student they should identify the student’s college and then the appropriate Disability Advisory Service advisor, which we believe provides the best solution for the student to maintain clear and smooth communication;
- communicate the recommended disability-related adjustments for individual students to the student’s college disability co-ordinator, and the appropriate disability co-coordinator in the lead department and, where necessary, the Disability Librarian at the Bodleian library. The Disability Advisory Service will incorporate information from colleagues about the demands of the course when making adjustment recommendations and discuss in advance any substantial or unusual adjustment recommendations with the college/department as appropriate;
- provide an over-arching, regular review of disability support arrangements with college disability co-ordinators, to support ongoing monitoring of student progress. The Disability Advisory Service will respond to individual requests for information and student support on an ongoing basis, and attend cross-collegiate case conferences where necessary to contribute to collaborative support arrangements;
- advise staff who receive requests for individual reasonable adjustments, for example in the admissions process or in examinations;
- provide general guidance on the potential impact of a range of disabilities on study-related activities;
- collaborate with staff in complex cases and give ongoing guidance for adjustments and support for individual students;
- provide training and development opportunities for staff working in disability-related roles;
- develop and maintain the virtual handbook as part of the Common Framework on supporting students with disabilities.
It is outside the remit of the Disability Advisory Service to:
- complete Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPS);
- arrange social or personal care – this falls to the social services in the student’s home town/country;
- arrange or facilitate financial support for living costs or personal care arrangements;
- arrange medical care or medical assessment reports;
- provide mobility aids – again this falls to the student’s social care service as the aids are not deemed to be specific to study;
- provide emergency support.