What to do if a student declares a disability to you
- Note the date and brief details of the conversation in your records.
- Gain the student’s consent to share this information.
- Actively listen to the student: they may wish to share with you the impact of their disability, what barriers to study they experience or what strategies they use to overcome difficulties—however do not prompt the student to share these details. Tell them broadly about the support the university can offer and the role of DAS and Disability Coordinators in working with the student to arrange support.
- Email the student after the meeting to confirm your conversation.
- If the student has consented to their information being shared, refer the student to the Disability Advisory Service, via email, copying the student. Mark all such email correspondence as confidential in the subject line.
- If the student has not yet given their consent to share information, advise the student to contact either the Disability Advisory Service or the Disability Co-ordinator at their college (for undergraduates) or department (for graduates).
- All notes, emails and other documents must be stored securely.
What if a student wants me to know but no one else?
If a student approaches you indicating they wish to share personal information, you should not give absolute assurances of confidentiality.
If the student asks you not to share any information with others please explain the significant limits to the support and services that can be provided without disclosure. Explain that if consent is given, information will be shared confidentially and on a need to know basis, data will be stored securely, and according to the permission given on the ‘Consent to share disability information form’.
If possible, ensure the student knows before disclosing any information that you cannot guarantee absolute confidentiality even if they withhold consent. You should say that you might still have to make a disclosure in exceptional circumstances, where there was evidence of risk of serious harm to the individual or others.
If a student withholds consent to share information, they should still sign the consent form. Note the date, time and brief detail of your conversation in your records. Send a summary email to the student. Ensure that the subject of the email is marked confidential.
Please don’t tell my... only tell...
Explain the limitations of support the university can provide if information is not shared. You could offer support in helping them discuss their disability with the member of staff with whom they have concerns. It is helpful to encourage students to think and talk about the strategies they have developed to overcome any difficulties, as well as the impact of their disability.
If the student wishes to restrict the sharing of information, they should still sign the Consent to share disability information form. The form should be modified by hand to reflect the student’s specific requests regarding the individuals to whom a disclosure can be made. Note the date, time and brief detail of your conversation in your records. Send a summary email to the student. Ensure that the subject of the email is marked confidential.