Tell us about your disability | University of Oxford
Student working in the library at Somerville College
Student working in the library at Somerville College

Tell us about your disability

This page provides information on registering with the DAS and explains what evidence is suitable. 

You are encouraged to tell the University about your disability as early as possible, ideally before starting your course, if you have a disability, specific learning difficulty (SpLD) or long term health condition. This is so that you can benefit more quickly from the full range of support available. However, you can contact us at any point during your studies. A disclosure will not affect academic review of your work. Disclosing a disability will mean:

  • The University can understand difficulties you face and offer appropriate help
  • Reasonable adjustments and individually tailored support can be arranged
  • The DAS can communicate with you about events or initiatives that might be of interest
  • The DAS can monitor the University’s support and inclusion of students with disabilities

To disclose a disability, you can:

  • Complete the DAS registration form
  • Update the disability field on Student Self Service if you are a matriculated student; the DAS will then contact you directly to explore your support requirements
  • Talk to a tutor, or your college or department disability coordinator. They will be able to refer you to the DAS.

If you feel you might have a disability but have not yet received a diagnosis, please speak with the DAS who can advise you further.

The next tab ('Providing Evidence') contains detailed information about obtaining and providing formal evidence of your disability which is needed for registration with the DAS.

Your information

Information about your disability is sensitive personal data in accordance with the Data Protection Act. It will only be shared with your permission on a need-to-know basis.

You can contact the DAS for informal discussions about how and when any information would be shared before deciding how to proceed. You are not obliged to declare a disability with the DAS.

The DAS do encourage you to give your consent for them to share information. The DAS will need to share relevant details with other key staff within the University to arrange certain types of support. Your requests for confidentiality will be respected if you would prefer information not to be shared. However, this will have implications for the extent of support that the University can arrange.

We will only break confidentiality if there are concerns about a serious or imminent risk to your own or someone else’s health and safety. In the case of a formal complaint, the DAS might need to provide information to the University’s Proctors, insurers, or legal advisers. Disclosure might be required in some (very rare) instances if the Service is ordered to provide information by a court of law.

Sometimes parents contact the DAS to alert them to a concern or to ask if their child has requested help. The DAS will not provide information without your written permission. The DAS would only act on information a parent shares with us if you are aware and consent or if, as above, there is any concern for your safety or the safety of others.

The DAS maintains a written record of your contact with the Service, which will be held securely. We also use statistical information for reporting purposes without revealing your identity.

When you register with the DAS, we require formal evidence of your disability or learning difficulty, and its impact on you. The type of evidence depends on the nature of your condition. You will find details below of evidence requirements if you experience:

Mobility or sensory impairments, long-standing health conditions

For most types of mobility or sensory impairments and long-standing health conditions a medical letter from a GP or consultant doctor is sufficient. Evidence from other professionals is unlikely to suffice.

Mental health conditions 

A letter from your GP, psychiatrist or specialist consultant is required. A letter from a mental health nurse, or treatment centre support worker is not sufficient.

Autism spectrum conditions

A letter from your GP or specialist consultant, or a statement of educational need or an Education Health and Care Plan.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

A letter from your GP, an adult psychiatrist or a consultant at a specialist ADHD clinic, or a diagnostic assessment report from an educational psychologist, an appropriately registered practitioner psychologist, or a suitably qualified specialist teacher, confirming substantial attentional difficulties.

A specific learning difficulty (SpLD) such as dyslexia, dyspraxia or dysgraphia

You will need a full diagnostic assessment report carried out by an appropriately qualified practitioner psychologist or specialist teacher with a valid practising certificate. The report must meet the Guidance on SpLD diagnostic assessments.

In order to access funding for certain support and adjustments, your funding body will require evidence to include confirmation of the following:

  • your condition or impairment (including any diagnosis);
  • how long you have had the condition or when you were diagnosed;
  • the likely impact on your studies of your disability.

Information about the following is also useful:

  • any medical treatment or support which you are currently receiving (or that is recommended); and
  • any alternative examination adjustments you are likely to require. The medical letter must state what the adjustments should be and why it would benefit you. There is guidance available for medical practitioners on typical adjustments at the University.

It is recommended that your GP or consultant uses the Oxford Medical Certificate for the purposes of providing evidence. 

All evidence must be signed and dated by the professional who has prepared it.

Any foreign language evidence must be translated into English by certified translation services.

The DAS is unable to pay for the cost of obtaining medical evidence. In some cases the DAS is able to contribute to the costs of investigating specific learning difficulties.

Your assessment must have been:

  • conducted after your 16th birthday;
  • conducted within five years (for undergraduate students) or eight years (for graduate students) of the start date of your course at the University;
  • conducted on an individual basis; and
  • have used tests designed for adults.

Oxford students continuing directly from undergraduate to graduate study will not normally require a new diagnostic assessment but should still contact the DAS for advice.

The following list gives examples of documents which are not acceptable evidence (please note the list is not exhaustive):

  • evidence prepared before you were 16 years old;
  • the UK “Form 8” – prepared for examination access arrangements at schools;
  • a letter from a school, college or university stating previous support or examination arrangements;
  • a childhood report of dyspraxia from a physiotherapist;
  • a letter from a medical professional; or
  • a diagnostic report written in a foreign language. Any foreign language assessments must be translated by certified translation services – the contents must then meet the University’s guidelines.

Note that many of these documents provide useful background information and you are welcome to supply them but they will not be accepted as ‘core’ evidence of your disability. If you are unsure whether the evidence you have is appropriate, check with the DAS.

Updating an SpLD assessment

If you have an existing diagnosis but your report does not fully meet the Guidance on SpLD Diagnostic Assessment, your disability adviser will be able to establish whether a new assessment is necessary, and then help you to arrange an appointment.

Arranging a new SpLD diagnostic assessment

If you think that you might have dyslexia, dyspraxia or another SpLD but have not been diagnosed formally, you should contact the DAS, who will discuss your concerns with you and see if there is sufficient background evidence and history of difficulty in order to recommend an assessment. With that in place, the DAS will help you to arrange an appointment and the University can contribute to the cost. If you are an offer holder, you will need to pay for the cost of the assessment up front and then claim reimbursement after you have started your course.

Note: University-funded diagnostic assessments are not available for students in their final year of study after Week 4 of Hilary term. The key purpose for the University in conducting these assessments is to facilitate study support. After this point, the time taken to organise, conduct and report on an assessment makes it highly unlikely that any recommendations could be implemented usefully. Also, after this point the deadline for examination adjustment applications has already passed and the disruption to study at such a crucial time makes an assessment inadvisable.

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