UCL Changemakers


Induction about disability for new UCL students

This case study documents a project aimed at highlighting and improving awareness of the services available for students with disabilities at UCL

9 August 2021

Case study by Manuela Sadik

What was the aim of your project?

This project had two main aims:

  1. To modify the induction procedures for new students so that it includes more information on the types of help available for those suffering from physical or mental health-related disabilities, as well as information on what UCL can do to help from a legal standpoint.
  2. To organise a training event for staff to guide them on how to talk about disabilities and make them aware of the informal solutions they can provide to students with disabilities whilst waiting for UCL to provide a formal solution.

What did you do?

We started by creating a two-page document filled with information, e.g. on the types of services available for students with disabilities at UCL. This document was then transformed into a one-slide presentation that could be easily shared and included in the induction procedure for new students. Before finalising this presentation, we shared it with many individuals, both staff and students, to gain feedback on how we could improve it.

Our next step revolved around organising the staff training event. We started by approaching multiple different charities, UCL services and disability officers in order to find a host and provider for the training event. Once we had found an appropriate charity, we liaised with them to arrange a date and to discuss what we wanted staff to gain from the event. We particularly wanted the training to be tailored towards lab-research students, and to include topics such as making the lab space suitable for students with disabilities. Eventually we agreed to host the event in September.

What were the main successes of the project?

We had initially wanted to include our one-slide presentation in the university-wide induction procedure for new students but soon determined that this was an unrealistic goal. As such, at first we aimed only to modify the induction procedures within our own faculty. However, once starting the project, the positive feedback we received encouraged us to work towards achieving our initial goal and we ended up succeeding in having our materials included in the UCL’s online induction for all new students.

What difficulties did you face during your project? What would you do differently?

Our main challenges revolved around the organisation of the staff training event. For example, we struggled to determine whether the event should be made compulsory. On one hand, we reasoned that the staff who voluntarily attend the training sessions would most likely already be interested in helping students with disabilities, so it is the ones who do not attend that we need to target. However, we recognised that forcing people to attend was not a nice thing to do. After much deliberation, we decided to make this year’s event voluntary. Once we have run the event and received feedback, we will (possibly) make next year’s event compulsory.

What impact has your project had? On whom?

We hope that this project will positively impact students with disabilities. We want them to know that there is help available for whatever they may be struggling with and we hope that, through our work, more will feel comfortable with approaching their supervisors or other staff members when they need help.