Disability & Specific Learning Differences / Difficulties (SpLDs)

If you have told us you are disabled, you have a learning difference or a medical condition that impacts on your learning, UCA’s experienced Disability & SpLD team is here to support you and academic colleagues to provide an accessible learning experience.

Our aim is to encourage and foster independent learning – we do this by helping you develop the strategies, skills and knowledge you need to succeed on your course.

We will work with you to:

  • Think about your needs, expected outcomes and the support you need to successfully access learning.
  • Support you through the process of applying for any external support you need for example, Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA).
  • Signpost and refer you for additional assessments, if required for example, Dyslexia Assessment.

Under the Equality Act 2010, disabilities include:

  • Neurodiverse conditions: Specific Learning Difficulties such as Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, ADHD and Autistic Spectrum Conditions/Disorders.
  • Mental Health Conditions including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, bipolar disorder and personality disorders.
  • Chronic Health Conditions, for example, diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, chronic fatigue, HIV, Crohn’s disease.
  • Sensory and Physical Conditions for example, hearing impairment, visual impairment, mobility difficulties.

We will create an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) in order to have support or reasonable adjustments put in place. For more information, you can read UCA’s Guidance to Making Reasonable Adjustments.

Our service is confidential, information about you is only passed to other people in the university or external services providers with your agreement to ensure you’re provided with the support you need.

For more information, see the Support for Success booklet.

Disability FAQs

  • How do I declare a disability or additional support need?

    You can declare a disability or support need on your course application, once you have accepted your offer of a place, once you have enrolled or at any time during your course.

    If you have already started your course, you should contact the Disability team via the Gateway desk located in the Library.

  • What about funding for Home/UK students?

    In many cases, UK students applying for higher education courses may be able to apply for the Disabled Students Allowance. If you are in any doubt about financial arrangements or funding, please contact the Disability & SpLD team.

  • What about funding for International Students

    To be eligible to apply for Disabled Students’ Allowance you need to hold home residency status.

    If you are an international student, you should seek advice on what support you might be entitled to from your home country. You could also consider what other funding may be available through grant giving trusts and charities. Further information can be provided by our Specialist Advisers.

    Further information on fees, funding and support for international students can be found on the UKCISA website.

  • What is a DSA needs assessment?

    The aim of the external DSA needs assessment is to discuss and recommend the type of support you might require on your course. There are several Needs Assessment Access Centres around the country.

  • What support is available for students with a disability?

    We have a team of experienced and trained support staff who can work with you to understand your requirements and what you might need to support your learning. This could include accessibility and on-course reasonable adjustments, external specialist support and access to specialist equipment and resources.

    For example, adjustments for students with hearing impairments could include:

    • Installation of loop systems in lecture theatres
    • Improved signage across all colleges to aid the location of facilities
    • Special communication and safety equipment in the halls of residence
    • Co-ordination of support such as interpreter, communication support worker and/or notetaker
    • Personal evacuation plan (known as PEEP).
  • Medication

    We have qualified first aiders on site who will be able to administer epi-pens in emergency situations. However, our staff are not trained to administer any other medications to students, so it is important that you are able to self-medicate, without support.

  • Parking

    Parking permits are available to students who hold a blue badge.

  • Funding for Personal Care

    The local authority in your home town where you are ‘ordinarily resident’ remains responsible for assessing and paying for any social or personal care support whilst you are living away from home at university. They can assist with completing applications for financial support through the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or for Personal Independence Payments (PIP), which can help with some of the extra (non-study related) costs caused by a disability. UCA’s Support with Personal Care document provides further information.

Disabled Applicants with Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP)

Your Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) will no longer apply when you start at university. Instead, you will be able to apply for funded support through Disabled Students Allowances (DSA).

It can, however, be a good idea to share your EHC plan with the university as it will help the Disability & SpLD team to understand your needs and make sure the right reasonable adjustments are put in place for the start of your course.

Dyslexia & Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs) FAQs

For students with SpLDs, including dyslexia, attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder (ADHD), dyspraxia or autism, you may find this section helpful.

  • What is dyslexia and how can it affect your study?

    Dyslexia can occur at any level of intellectual ability and its effects can be alleviated by skilled specialist teaching and committed learning.

    If you have dyslexia, you may experience difficulties in one or more of the following areas:

    • reading
    • organising and expressing ideas in writing
    • spelling, grammar and punctuation
    • handwriting
    • note-taking
    • time management, and procrastination
    • memory
  • What about other Specific learning differences/difficulties (SpLDs)?

    Specific learning differences/difficulties (SpLDs) is the umbrella term for a number of associated learning differences or neurodiversity.

    Being neurodiverse can affect how you learn and process information and can affect your memory, your ability to concentration, your sensory perception and staying organised. Common issues include:

    • Attention
    • Organisation
    • Working memory
    • Time management
    • Listening skills
    • Sensory perception
    • Speed of processing
  • How do I declare dyslexia or a neurodiverse condition?

    You can declare you have dyslexia or a neurodiverse condition on your application, once you have accepted a place, once you have enrolled or at any time during your course.

    If you have already started your course, you should contact the Disability & SpLD team via the Gateway desk located in the Library.

  • What should I do if I think I'm dyslexic or neurodiverse?

    You should arrange to see the Dyslexia & SpLD Adviser via the Gateway located in the Library on your campus. We will discuss your strengths and weaknesses in confidence and find out what choices are available to you.

  • How is dyslexia tested?

    A diagnostic specialist is usually the person who tests for dyslexia. Student Finance England will normally only accept reports prepared by diagnostic specialists so it is best to ask about the qualifications of the person who tests you.

    A dyslexia assessment will last just over an hour. You will be asked questions about your previous learning and your study skills. There will be a series of written exercises that are designed to identify where support is needed.

    The diagnostic specialist will then write a report that will include a statement about whether dyslexia is part of your profile.

  • What support is available?

    We have a team of experienced and trained Dyslexia and SpLD advisers who work with students on a one-to-one basis on areas of need such as essays, dissertations and study skills.

  • Should I tell my course that I have dyslexia or neurodiverse condition?

    You are encouraged to make your tutors aware of your needs. If you feel uncomfortable this, or wish the information to remain confidential, please talk to the Dyslexia & SpLD Adviser.

    For those on courses with written examinations, it is important that you contact the Dyslexia & SpLD Adviser to discuss what adjustments may be possible.

Mental Health Conditions

 The Wellbeing and Counselling Service is here throughout your time at UCA. If you would like support with your mental health, it is important to reach out so that you can get the most from your university experience. The service supports students with their mental health and wellbeing including the following issues:

  • Anxiety
  • Self-Care
  • Depression and low mood
  • Managing stress and worry
  • Grief and loss
  • Loneliness
  • Anger
  • Healthy relationships
  • Improving sleep
  • Existing mental health diagnoses

Support for your mental health and wellbeing is available by contacting the Wellbeing and Counselling Service via email: wellbeing@uca.ac.uk

Chronic Health Conditions

Any disease that has lasted longer than a year, requires medical attention or limits your day-to-day life may count as a chronic illness.
Living with a chronic illness is different for everyone, and not everyone with a chronic condition has a disability.  A chronic illness can cause a disability, both temporary and ongoing.
If you think your condition will impact on your learning, support is available on a case-by-case basis. Please contact the disability service for further discussions to establish what reasonable adjustments may apply to you.

Sensory and Physical Conditions

Physical and sensory needs cover a wide range of medical conditions and can include hearing loss, visual impairment, sensory processing difficulties and physical difficulties.

They can occur for a variety of reasons, e.g. congenital conditions, injury or disease.

Please communicate and share the details of your condition with the Disability team as early as possible. This will ensure that where applicable, support is put in place in a timely manner.

If you require practical help and assistance with daily life tasks (such as pushing a wheelchair), please read our Guide on Personal Care Support.

Useful information

Disability & SpLD Glossary

You may find that UCA uses different terminology regarding Disabilities and SpLDs than you are used to. Our glossary will explain what these terminology mean and how we use them.

Guidance for non-medical helpers (NMHs)

This guidance outlines key information NMH providers need to be aware of when working with UCA students.

Guidance on inclusive language

The language we use is important as it reflects cultural assumptions, the thinking society adopts and the value we place on people. Not everyone will agree on everything. However, there is a general agreement on some basic guidelines that we can all observe when talking or writing about disabilities.

Guidance on personal care support

Personal care support refers to practical help and assistance you
require in daily life. The Disability & SpLD team will work with you to understand
your requirements and what you might need to support your

Making adjustments for disabled students

Guidance for staff on the agreement and delivery of adjustments to learning, teaching and assessment to remove barriers to access for disabled students.

Needs Assessment

We wish to work effectively with Needs Assessment Centres, so have produced an overarching statement to provide information on our current offer for students with disabilities and SpLDs.

Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs)

Support for Success

Our handbook for applicants with a disability or specific learning difference.

Service Statements

Service Statements provide more information on what we can offer you in terms of service provision, reasonable adjustments and further advice and guidance. 

Contact us

General Email: disability@uca.ac.uk 

Tel: +44 (0)1227 817 455
Email: disabilitycanterbury@uca.ac.uk

Tel: +44 (0)1372 202 431
Email: disabilityepsom@uca.ac.uk

Tel: +44 (0)1252 892 926
Email: disabilityfarnham@uca.ac.uk