SOAS University of London

Disability and Dyslexia Service

SpLDs (Incl. Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia, ADHD)

  • What are SpLDs?

    Specific Learning Differences (SpLDs)  include dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia and AD(H)D.

    Many people have difficulties with learning of one kind or another and there are many reasons why we might find aspects of studying difficult and challenging.  However, SpLDs such as ‘Dyslexia’,  ‘Dyspraxia’, ‘Dyscalculia’ or ‘ADHD’ are labels given to a particular pattern of neurological differences in the ways people process information, language or thought.  

    Diagram showing all the main SpLDs (called 'NEURODIVERSITY') together with some of the typical difficulties people with SpLDs experience. (Diagram created by BRAIN.HE, based on the work of Mary Colley) . 

    The learning difficulties people with SPLD’s have are independent of intelligence.   These difficulties are also not because of a lack of educational experience or skills and not because someone is having difficulties in a second language (although these may also be additional factors for some people).   

    In an academic context, these differences can make things like reading, writing essays, organisation or time management much more difficult and time-consuming than they would typically be.   

    People with an SpLD share a pattern of differences / difficulties but the extent and experience of this is unique to each individual. 

  • Do I have an SpLD? (dyslexia, dyspraxia, AD(H)D, dyscalculia)

    If you think you have an SpLD, make an appointment to see a Learning Adviser to have an SPLD screening.  (Click here for contact details).

    • After the screening, if the Learning Adviser recommends that you have a full diagnostic assessment, she will discuss any funding options which contribute towards the assessment fee
    • You will then be referred to an Educational Psychologist or Specialist Tutor (Assessor) for an assessment and will receive a detailed report.   When you get your report, you need to make an appointment with a Disability Adviser to discuss the findings and support options.
  • Are there any adjustments made for exams?
    Exam adjustments

    Adjustments to your exam arrangements can usually be put in place on the basis of recommendations  made by an Educational Psychologist, specialist teacher, doctor or consultant.  The Disability Advisor will need to see a copy of your evidence and will meet with you to discuss the recommendations.

    These adjustments might include: extra time, use of a computer, rest breaks,  use of screen reading software such as JAWS,  enlarged text or an amanuensis (scribe).

    The deadline by which the Disability Office needs to be notified is given on the Special Arrangements for Exams page in the disability section of the SOAS website.

    For students with dyslexia: your dyslexia report must be the report of an assessment taken after you were 16. If it is an assessment made by an educational psychologist or specialist teacher, it should include adult tests (WAIS) rather than child tests (WISC). The author of the report should certify that the assessment was conducted and report written in accordance with the Specific Learning Details Working Group 2005/DFES guide-lines for assessment of specific learning difficulties in higher education. (read more).

    For students with medical evidence: medical evidence should be current and outline the condition you have that necessitates special arrangements. It should also, if possible, explain what arrangements are necessary and why. This should be on headed paper, dated and signed by your medical practitioner.

  • How do I apply for DSA and other Funding?

    Click on the link below for information about DSA and other funding

    Applying for DSA and other Funding 

  • What is one-to-one specialist study skills support and how can I arrange it?

    One-to-one specialist study support is tutorial work with a specialist tutor which focuses on the specific SpLD-related needs of the student.  Students with DSA funding will be funded for this support and students with SpLDs who are not funded can arrange some one-to-one support through the learning adviser. 

    One-to-one learning support would include things like:

    • Developing strategies for organising one's thoughts and ideas and structuring these into an essay plan
    • Reviewing approaches to reading which take into account specific difficulties with managing the volume of reading or difficulties with comprehension of text-based material
    • Giving feedback on writing which looks for patterns that could be developed or improved
    • Working with relevant software packages which offer useful solutions to typical difficulties
    • Addressing organisational or time-management difficulties  
    • Addressing exam anxiety in practical and constructive ways 

    One-to-one support is there to develop students' skills and practices as independent learners and does not involve subject-specific support or correcting students' work for grammar errors.

  • How do the teaching staff get to know about my recommended support?
    All students with a disability can have plan drawn up which describes any adjustments that need to be made or support you may need to access the course. It includes advice to your lecturers / tutors and other relevant SOAS staff on: physical access; access to the curriculum; exams; other forms of assessment; study skills support; mentoring; library; IT; and health and safety.

    Students who registered BEFORE 2016/2017:  If you registered before 2016/2017, the plan was called a 'Learning Support Agreement' (LSA).  NB: The LSA is still in use and you DO NOT need to change it to the new Study Inclusion Plan.  The LSA was agreed between each student and your disability advisor. The agreed document was then emailed to you and copied to your course convenor and your faculty student support office.

    If you want lecturers / tutors to see your Learning Support Agreement and act on the recommendations in it, you will need to send it to them. They will not see the LSA if you do not send it to them.

    Students who registered in 2016/2017 or later (ie students whose first year at SOAS was 2016/17): The plan that describes adjustments and support is now called a STUDY INCLUSION PLAN.  There is a link to Study Inclusion PLans FAQs on the left hand navigation bar of this page (or you can click on this link to get to the same page).

  • Are there any extended deadlines for essays?

    Students with SpLDs are entitled to extended deadlines for essays - please read the FAQ document below to see if you are entitled:

    FAQs for Permitted Extended Deadlines

    Leaflet about Extended Deadlines

  • Are there any specific SpLD marking guidelines for students' coursework?

    No, there are no specific SpLD marking guidelines for students' coursework.  Staff use the following general marking criteria for all students' coursework: 

    Click here to see the SOAS Undergraduate (UG) Marking Criteria

    Click here to see the SOAS Postgraduate (PG) Marking Criteria

    The UG and PG Marking Criteria have been designed to be inclusive for all students by focusing on the courses' Learning Outcomes:

    Where spelling / grammar errors are not part of the learning outcomes and do not interfere with the meaning of what is being communicated, these errors are not considered as part of the mark awarded.  However, in courses where spelling / grammar errors are part of the learning outcomes (eg in language courses), these will be marked down accordingly.

    Note: These criteria replace the old 'Marking Guidelines for Students with Specific Learning Differences'.  Students with SpLDs therefore no longer need to make a request on their essays for marking guidelines to be used.

  • Are there any particular library services available for disabled students?

    Your disability advisor can organise for you to have access to extended loans, use of the quiet study rooms D12, D15 and 482 (with assistive technology) and assistance with retrieval, photocopying and scanning if any of these are necessary to make the library accessible to you.

    There are also two height-adjustable workstations suitable for wheelchair users and a wheelchair-accessible toilet on Floor F in the Library.

  • I don't have my own laptop or any assistive software. Is there any equipment I can borrow?

    SOAS has a small stock of laptop computers (loaded with a range of assistive software), digital recorders and other equipment for loan to students who are either not eligible for the DSA or who have not yet received any equipment. Please contact the Disability Advisors if you would like to borrow any of this equipment.

  • Are there any computers on campus with useful software for disabled students?

    All the computers for student use at SOAS run a screen reading/spelling/grammar programme called Claroread and a mindmapping/visual planning programme called Mind Manager. Group training in this software will take place regularly.  

    Rooms D12, D15 and 482 (which can be booked by disabled students through the library issue desk) also have JAWS (screen reading software for visually impaired students) and Zoomtext installed. These rooms also have printers, book scanners and large text display machines which magnify books, magazines and pictures and project the enlarged image onto a screen.
    Training sessions on the assistive technology software can be arranged through the disability office.

  • Is there anyone available to assist me with notetaking?

    If you have difficulties taking notes in lectures, please talk to your disability advisor about a range of options that can be put in place.

  • Am I allowed to use a recorder or laptop in lectures and tutorials?

    If your Learning Support Agreement recommends that you record lectures, this should be fine.  It is helpful to mention it to lecturers beforehand.  If there are any difficulties with this, email the Disability Advisers and let us know disabilities@soas.ac.uk

  • What group workshops are available for students with SpLDs?