SOAS University of London

Disability and Dyslexia Service

Who we are and what we do

The Disability and Dyslexia team is part of the Student Advice and Wellbeing department and includes: 

  • Student Disability Advisors: Angela Axon and Zoë Davis
  • Learning Advisors: Carol John and Carol Rifkin
  • Disability Administrators: Caroline Miller and Monwara Seetul

We provide specialist guidance and support for disabled students at SOAS.   We can advise on the facilities that are available to you and help to ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to make SOAS accessible.  We use the feedback we get from students about what works and what doesn’t to inform the more strategic parts of our role, eg the creation of policy and working with other staff members to make SOAS as accessible as possible.

Which students do we work with?

We work with students who are disabled. The term “disability” is wide. According to the Equality Act (2010), disability can include the following impairments:

  • problems with mobility, seeing or hearing;
  • specific learning differences (e.g. dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia);
  • social / communication difficulties (such as asperger syndrome and autism);
  • mental illness or mental health difficulties;
  • severe disfigurements;
  • unseen, long-term medical conditions such as cancer, HIV/Aids, epilepsy, diabetes;
  • progressive conditions even at an early stage, conditions characterised by a number of cumulative effects such as pain or fatigue and a past history of disability

If you aren’t sure if you are covered by this definition but are experiencing difficulties, please contact us for advice.

Models of Disability

At SOAS, we use the above categories to identify disability as these are the categories used by funding bodies and legislation.  However, we would like to highlight the idea of the Social Model of Disability which we believe is an ideal to work towards.  This model of disability makes an important distinction between the terms 'impairment' and 'being disabled'.  

An 'impairment' is a physical, intellectual, sensory, medical or psychological difference which may cause individual functional limitations, such as those listed above.  However, according to the Social Model, these impairments would not necessarily lead to being 'disabled' if society took account of, and included people regardless of their individual differences.  For example, someone who has a hearing impairment may be able to get the same out of lectures as anyone else if there are adequate hearing loops fitted in lecture theatres, but he/she will be 'disabled' if these are not available.

SOAS is working to ensure that it is accessible in both its course design and the fabric of its buildings.  We welcome any feedback on where further improvements can be made.