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Section 3: Reasonable Adjustments for Disabilities and Long-term Conditions

Published for 2022-23


3.1 What are Reasonable Adjustments?3.4 How a Summary of Reasonable Adjustments (SoRA) works
3.2 When to use Reasonable Adjustments3.5 Acute episodes and fluctuating conditions
3.3 What support is available?3.6 Frequently Asked Questions

3.1 What are Reasonable Adjustments? 

1.In line with the Equality Act (2010), UCL is responsible for anticipating and implementing ‘Reasonable Adjustments’ for students with a disability. We do this by working with you to set up a ‘Summary of Reasonable Adjustments (SoRA)’. 
 Help and advice 
2.Help with using these procedures is available from UCL’s Student Support and Wellbeing (SSW) team. Section 1.2: Help and Advice includes more information. 
3.Your Department has a dedicated SoRA Contact. You can get in touch with them if you have any questions or concerns related to your SoRA.  
 Looking after your data 
4.UCL will look after your data carefully and sensitively. Where your personal information needs to be shared with members of the UCL community in order to facilitate your support, this will be done only with your consent and on a 'need-to-know' basis. Section 1.4: Confidentiality and Looking After Your Data includes more information. 

3.2 When to use Reasonable Adjustments 

1.

A disabled person is defined in the Equality Act (2010) as someone with "A physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities."

  • Normal day-to-day activities include mobility, manual dexterity, physical co-ordination, continence, ability to lift, carry and move everyday objects, speech, hearing, eyesight, memory or ability to concentrate, learn or understand, and perception of risk or physical danger. 
  • Substantial means more than minor or trivial e.g. it takes much longer that it usually would to complete a daily task like getting dressed. 
  • Long term means likely to last for 12 months or more.  
2.The definition includes (but is not limited to): 
 a)Mobility differences such as wheelchair users, or musculoskeletal conditions 
 b)Sensory differences, such as individuals certified as blind or partially sighted, and those who are D/deaf  
 c)Long-term health conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, cancer, HIV or autoimmune conditions 
 d)Long-term mental health conditions such as depression, eating disorders or schizophrenia 
 e)Specific learning differences (SpLD) such as dyslexia or dyspraxia 
 f)Social or communication differences such as an Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) 
 g)Progressive conditions such as motor neurone disease, muscular dystrophy or forms of dementia 
 h)Progressive conditions such as motor neurone disease, muscular dystrophy or forms of dementia 
3.It is also important to note that: 
 a)Any terminal condition is included regardless of timeframes involved. 
 b)Progressive conditions are covered from the point of diagnosis, regardless of the symptoms. 
 c)Conditions that are intermittent, or that fluctuate in their effects will entitle the person to protection under the Equality Act at all times (provided the condition is likely to recur), even at a particular point in time the condition is in remission. 
4.Unlike other protected characteristics, the Equality Act (2010) places an obligation on education providers to take active steps to reduce discrimination of students with a disability, impairment, mental or physical health condition, and to make reasonable adjustments to learning, teaching and assessment.  
5.UCL follows the ‘social model’ of disability. Society is structured in a way that many individuals with protected characteristics experience a number of barriers. The social model views the barriers experienced by disabled people as what disables the individual, rather than the conditions themselves (medical model). Removing these barriers enables the access, participation and inclusion of disabled people in work and study. Reasonable adjustments are one way of removing these barriers for individuals where it is possible and reasonable to do so.  
6.All UCL programmes require you to reach specific academic standards in order to be awarded a UCL qualification and some also have particular Fitness to Practise requirements or Professional Competency Standards (e.g. for clinicians or teacher training). UCL cannot reduce or change those standards, but we are committed to removing barriers to helping you attain them. 
7.UCL’s Equality, Inclusion and Diversity website provides further guidance about the definitions of Disabilities and Reasonable Adjustments. If you are unsure if you meet the definition under the Equality Act (2010), you can contact UCL’s Student Support and Wellbeing team for advice.  

3.3 What support is available? 

1.Reasonable Adjustments can take a wide range of forms depending on your specific circumstances. The following examples are provided to help you understand the types of adjustments that might be available (please note that some adjustments are subject to eligibility criteria): 

For lectures, seminars and teaching events 

  • Recorded lectures via UCL’s Lecturecast scheme 
  • Lecture slides available in advance 
  • Hand-outs and lecture notes that can be modified so that you can edit the font or background to your own preference  
  • Hand-outs and lecture notes in alternative formats such as email, large print or braille 
  • Prioritised reading lists to help you access and digest readings ahead of time 
  • Extended library loan facilities and other library support 
  • Sign language interpreters for lectures, seminars or group work 
  • A reader or scribe to help you take notes and participate in classes 
  • Access to the Digital Accessibility Hub - a dedicated IT workroom and team of advisers to help you study independently using a variety of assistive technology software 

For your assessments 

  • Regular coursework extensions 
  • Extra time in exams and take-home papers 
  • Rest breaks in exams 
  • Exam papers in accessible formats, including large print or braille 
  • Assistive technology in exams such as sitting exams on a PC with assistive software 
  • A reader or scribe for exams 
  • Adapted or improved lighting for exams 
  • Adapted or ergonomic furniture for exams 
  • Sitting your exam in a smaller venue 
  • Support for your PhD upgrade meeting, viva or oral examination 
  • Alternative methods of assessment (please note that this is only available if approved by your Programme Leader and External Examiner) 

For getting around campus 

  • Support with travel for academic purposes  
  • Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) 
  • Liaison with UCL Estates to minimise physical barriers in the built environment 
  • AccessAble – a website with accessibility information on thousands of buildings across London, including around UCL’s campus 
  • Adjustments to UCL accommodation e.g. an en-suite, a larger or accessible room, continuing accommodation beyond your first year 
  • Guided tours of campus  
  • Early access to large-scale events so that you can avoid busy periods 

For your ongoing health and wellbeing 

  • Specialist welcome events 
  • Access to a specialist mental health mentoring scheme including regular meetings with a mentor who will work with you to help you identify and overcome barriers to your learning 
  • Access to a specialist Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) mentoring scheme including regular meetings with a mentor who will work with you to help you identify and overcome barriers to your learning. 
  • Specialist study skills tutoring for specific learning differences (SpLDs), providing tailored learning strategies to remove academic barriers.
2.You can find more detailed information about the types of support available for different circumstances on the Student Support and Wellbeing website

3.4 How a Summary of Reasonable Adjustments (SoRA) works 

 UCL’s Student Support and Wellbeing (SSW) team can help you to set up a Summary of Reasonable Adjustments (SoRA). 
 

Step 1: Tell us about your disability, long-term condition, neurodivergence or learning difference

  • Let us know when you apply to UCL or during pre-enrolment so that we can put in place the support that you need as soon as possible. We will then send you an invitation to complete an Applicant Support Questionnaire.  
  • Alternatively, you can contact the SSW team at any stage during your studies to request an appointment. 
 

Step 2: Make an appointment 

  • An SSW adviser will contact you via email or phone within 10 working days to invite you to an appointment to discuss your support in more detail. 
 

Step 3: Provide medical evidence 

  • You will be asked to provide medical evidence to ensure that your request for a SoRA is aligned with the Equality Act (2010) – you should send this to your SSW adviser in advance of your appointment so that they can prepare for your meeting. Section 1.5: Providing Supporting Evidence includes more information. 
 

Step 4: Discuss your SoRA with your SSW adviser 

At your appointment, your SSW adviser will discuss your circumstances, experiences and expectations, and the types of support that are available. This may include the following topics: 

  • Your adviser will ask if you would like to include a short personal statement in your SoRA, explaining the impact of your condition on your learning and what approaches to support are most helpful to you. This is optional, but it can help your Department to support you more effectively. 
  • Your adviser will consult your Department’s guidance on the types of adjustments that are suitable for your subject area to help ensure that your SoRA aligns with the activities that you will be undertaking on your programme e.g. if you will be doing lab work, clinical exams, field trips, placements, examinations, take-home papers, coursework, exhibitions, etc. 
  • Your adviser may liaise with UCL Information Services (ISD), UCL Estates and/ or the UCL Library in order to arrange your adjustments. You may also be referred for non-medical support such as specialist tuition, mental health mentoring, note-taking support, etc. 
  • In some cases, SSW may need to work with external providers, for example to source equipment or engage with note takers. The time frames for working with external providers are often outside of SSW’s control – letting us know about your circumstances before your programme starts will allow us to put in place the support that you need as early as possible. 
  • You may also be asked to complete an application for Exam Adjustments if you need support to sit online or in-person Controlled Condition Exams or Take-Home Papers. 
  • Your SSW adviser can also talk to you about any concerns you might have about confidentiality. Section 1.4: Confidentiality and Looking After Your Data includes more information. 
 

Step 5: Confirm your SoRA on Portico 

  • Your SSW adviser will let you know when your SoRA is available on UCL’s student record system, Portico. You will need to accept the SoRA in Portico in order to activate your adjustments and make them visible to your Department. 
 

Step 6: Receive confirmation from your Department 

  • Once your SoRA is activated, your Department will be able to view it and work out how to make adjustments to individual modules and assessments. Your Department should contact you within 10 working days to confirm arrangements, and may invite you to a meeting to discuss your support. 
  • If your Department has any queries about your SoRA they should contact the Student Support and Wellbeing team for advice. 
  • If you are taking modules in another Department, they will also be able to see your SoRA and make appropriate arrangements. 
 

Step 7: Work with your Department to ensure your SoRA is supporting you effectively 

  • Your Department has a dedicated SoRA Contact. You can get in touch with them for any issues related to your SoRA, including help to understand how your SoRA works, what practical academic support may be available to you, how your SoRA is being implemented, etc. Your SoRA Contact can also liaise between your Department and the SSW team to clarify any uncertainties around your SoRA if these arise.  
  • If you are having difficulties with the implementation of your SoRA in your Department, you can write to your Faculty Tutor for help and advice. 
 

Step 8: Engage with support and keep your SoRA up to date 

  • Agreeing a SoRA is just the start of our support for you. Make sure that you make full use of all the support offered to you and stay in contact with the SSW team throughout your studies as they can help to ensure that your SoRA is up to date and supporting you effectively. 
 

Step 9: Request regular reviews  

  • You can request a review of your SoRA as and when you feel it is necessary. Regular reviews are beneficial for all students but are particularly important if you have a condition which fluctuates or changes over time. 
  • Your SoRA is designed to support you on a specific programme of study. If you change programmes or start a new programme (e.g. you progress to a Masters or PhD) you must get in touch with the SSW team to revise your SoRA. 

3.5 Acute episodes and fluctuating conditions 

3.5.1 What is an acute episode or fluctuating condition? 

1.If you have a disability or long-term health condition, you may feel better at some times than others. This may be because you have symptoms which change over time, or you may experience ‘flare-ups’, or a period of crisis. Your Summary of Reasonable Adjustments (SoRA) is designed to proactively support all the different aspects of your condition, including acute episodes and fluctuations. It does this by anticipating your needs in advance and making sure that you have easy access to effective support when you need it. A typical example is coursework extensions – your SoRA may give you the option of having a one-week extension as and when you need it. It is up to you to decide when to use it. You do not need to ‘apply’ for an extension each time, and you do not need to keep providing supporting evidence; you can just take advantage of the support that is already available to you in your SoRA. 

3.5.2 When to use Extenuating Circumstances for a longer-term condition  

1.Extenuating Circumstances (ECs) are for shorter-term emergencies and unexpected events, including short-term physical and mental health conditions. If you already have a SoRA, you are not expected or required to use the Extenuating Circumstances procedure to support your condition.  
2.If you have an acute episode or flare-up of a condition and you feel that your SoRA does not provide sufficient mitigation, your first step should be to speak to your Departmental SoRA Contact or a UCL Student Support and Wellbeing Adviser to request a review of your SoRA (see Section 3.4, Step 9).  
3.There may also be occasions where you have another difficulty which is separate from the condition covered by your SoRA e.g. you might experience a bereavement. You can still apply for Extenuating Circumstances if you need shorter-term support for other difficulties. 
4.While we will try to put your SoRA in place as quickly as possible, there may be occasions where you need support for teaching events or assessments while you are waiting for your SoRA to be set up. If you are in this position, you should speak to your Departmental SoRA Contact who can liaise with UCL Student Support and Wellbeing to work out whether temporary adjustments can be put in place until your SoRA is confirmed. You should not normally need to submit Extenuating Circumstances to access temporary adjustments. 

3.5.3 Submitting an EC claim relating to a SoRA condition  

1.Any EC claim relating to a condition that is already covered by your SoRA should normally be accompanied by supporting evidence (i.e. it is not normally eligible for self-certification). Section 1.5: Providing Supporting Evidence includes more information. 
 First EC claim relating to a SoRA condition 
2.The first time that you submit an EC claim relating to a SoRA condition, the EC approver should consult both your Departmental SoRA Contact and UCL Student Support and Wellbeing, and together agree one of the following: 
 a)Normally, your SoRA should be reviewed to ensure that it covers all aspects of your condition. If SSW feels that you are eligible for additional support, they may amend your SoRA, for example by including adjustments for use in the event of an acute episode or fluctuation, such as access to longer extensions. 
 b)If SoRA amendments are not possible (e.g. there is not enough time to put them in place before the assessment), you may be offered a one-off EC mitigation, if that would be appropriate in the circumstances. 
3.Departments can use their Departmental SoRA Statement to advise UCL Student Support and Wellbeing on appropriate adjustments in the subject area to help tailor SoRAs to individual students and expedite the process. 
 Subsequent EC claims relating to a SoRA condition 
4.If you submit a subsequent EC claim relating to a SoRA condition, a full EC Panel should be convened to discuss the options: 
 a)You should be referred for a more holistic review of your support needs in the form of a Support Plan under the Support to Study Procedure (see Section 7). 
 b)If the EC Panel feels that a Support Plan is not yet necessary, they may agree to consult both your Departmental SoRA Contact and UCL Student Support and Wellbeing, and together agree whether your SoRA should be amended, for example to include additional adjustments for use in the event of an acute episode or fluctuation, such as access to longer extensions. 
 c)The EC Panel may offer you a one-off EC mitigation, if that would be appropriate in the circumstances. 

3.6 Frequently Asked Questions 

1.

What happens if I have assessments before my SoRA is set up? 

  • The start of the academic year is always a busy time for the Student Support and Wellbeing team and it may not be possible to give you an appointment as quickly as we would like. If you are able to provide evidence that you have made an appointment with SSW but are yet to be seen, your Extenuating Circumstances Panel may use its discretion to offer you an extension or other temporary mitigations - see Section 2: Short-term Illness and other Extenuating Circumstances for details of how to apply. 
2.

Can I have reasonable adjustments for attendance? 

  • Each faculty has a minimum attendance threshold that allows for a small amount of absence, for example if you need to attend medical appointments. This means that reasonable adjustments are already built into UCL’s Student Attendance Policy. It is not possible to lower the minimum attendance thresholds any further.  
  • If you are unable to attend an individual class on a particular day or time, but you will still be able to meet the minimum attendance thresholds, please ensure that you check the local policy before taking any leave, and that you report all absences through RegisterUCL.  
  • If you think you might be unable to meet the minimum attendance requirements, please get in touch with your Department as soon as possible to discuss your options. 
3.

How do extensions work? 

  • If extensions are considered to be an appropriate adjustment for you, this will be explicitly stated in your SoRA. You do not need to complete a separate ‘Extenuating Circumstances’ claim.  
  • Your Department will automatically apply SoRA extensions to your submission due dates. You can choose whether to submit work by the original deadlines or the extended ones. We encourage you to consider your decision holistically, taking into account all deadlines you are working towards.  
  • If a Department has concerns about the impact of an extension on your ability to attend teaching activities or complete other assessments, they should contact the SSW team for advice. 
  • If extensions are not explicitly included in your SoRA then the same regulations around extensions apply to you as to all other students i.e. you will need to submit an Extenuating Circumstances claim. 
4.

What happens if I am on a Study Abroad or Placement programme? 

  • If you are going on a Study Abroad Year or Placement, you will be encouraged to contact a Student Support and Wellbeing adviser beforehand to discuss your plans. The adviser can liaise with the receiving institution/organisation to put adjustments in place for you, and can also discuss whether you will continue to engage with any support at UCL. 
5.

What happens on Clinical and Initial Teacher Education placements? 

  • If your programme includes a professional placement, such as teacher training or a clinical placement, you are required to notify UCL of any condition which might affect your ability to undertake the placement at the application stage or during pre-enrolment. 
  • If any health-related issues arise during your programme, you should contact UCL Workplace Health directly for a confidential one-to-one appointment. Your Personal Tutor or Programme Leader may also refer you to UCL Workplace Health using a Student Referral Form. 
  • UCL Workplace Health will invite you to an appointment to discuss your support needs and then draw up a report giving suggestions on the support and adjustments that the placement provider may wish to consider. Your placement provider, Personal Tutor and/ or Programme Leader are responsible for determining whether the adjustments are possible and appropriate in that environment. 
  • Faculties or departments may publish local Fitness to Practise policies covering students on professional placements on their programmes. The faculty is responsible for ensuring that these policies are communicated to the students which are affected. 
6.

Does my Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) apply if I take a module in another department? 

  • Yes, your PEEP applies across the UCL campus and online environments. The Module Organiser in your Teaching Department should find out which students have a PEEP from Portico. They should then work with your Home Department to make sure that appropriate arrangements are put in place. Your SoRA Contact or SSW adviser can also liaise with the Teaching Department.