SOAS University of London

Disability and Neurodiversity Team

Unseen Disabilities

  • Which conditions count as unseen disabilities?

    Impairments or medical conditions are considered 'unseen' if their effects are not obvious. 

    Examples include conditions like kidney / lung / heart disease; diabetes;  pain conditions; chronic fatigue syndrome; stammering; epilepsy; Crohn's disease; ME; cystic fibrosis. 

    This is NOT a full list; many conditions and impairments fall into this category and it is very common for students to have an unseen condition.  

    Click on 'Useful Websites' in the navigation menu on the left for lots of interesting links related to Unseen Conditions.  

  • What do I do if I need to evacuate quickly from a SOAS building?

    Your disability adviser will create a personal emergency evacuation plan with you. Please contact the disability office as soon as possible to arrange this. More information is at  Policy for Emergency Egress for Disabled People (pdf; 73kb) .

  • Are there any mentors available who can help me manage my work?

    Some disabled students find it helpful to have some regular time with a specialist tutor called a mentor to help them to manage their studies e.g. time planning, assignment planning, etc. A typical arrangement might be to see the mentor once a week for an hour. The Disability Advisors can help to arrange this form of support if you think it would be helpful.

  • 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 

  • 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 & Neurodiversity Team needs to be notified is given on the Exams and Assessment page.

    For students with dyslexia: your dyslexia report can be the report of an assessment taken either before or after you turned 16, but in some cases a new report may be requested if it was taken before you turned 16 (e.g. if the report was done at a pre-school age and/or has no information on educational requirements).

    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.

  • Are there any extended deadlines for essays?

    All students with a SIP are entitled to extended deadlines for some assignments in 2020-21 - please read the FAQ document linked below for information, as not all assignments are eligible:


  • What is access to the library like for people with mobility difficulties and/or visual impairments?

    There are 2 lifts in the library (lifts A and B) but they are relatively small and heavily used.  Generally speaking, access to the recently refurbished ground level is good, other levels have yet to be refurbished and remain in their original state, so the shelves are very close together and there is a lack of circulation space. For this reason, the school asks wheelchair users not to go to Levels A-D and to make use of the book fetching service provided by the Customer Services staff.

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

    The library also has two scan and read machines. These are the Sara reading machine and a Scan and Read Anywhere machine. These mean that you can put a book on the scanner and it will read it to you straight away. You will need headphones for this. The portable scanner is kept at the issue desk and can be borrowed with a library card. The large scanner is likely to be kept on the lower level – please ask library staff for more info.

  • What library services are available?

    Please visit  for information on Library Services

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • Can I change my timetable to ensure access to classrooms?

    Most of the classrooms at SOAS are accessible but if you are a wheelchair user, or have a long term condition or visual impairment that would make accessing a certain room difficult, please contact us; we can usually arrange for all your classes to take place in accessible rooms.

  • 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.

  • Is there any space available if I have to rest during the day?

    Students who need to rest during the day may, if arrangements are agreed, make use of the rest room on the first floor of the main building. Please contact the Student Disability Advisors to make such arrangements.

  • I have difficulty carrying books. How can I arrange a locker near the library?

    If you have difficulty carrying books and need a locker, email and we will arrange this for you.

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

    If your Study Inclusion Plan 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 & Neurodiversity Team and let us know on