SOAS University of London

Student Advice and Wellbeing

How to Support Students with Disabilities & Neurodiverse conditions

Information for staff on working with students with Disabilities & Neurodiverse conditions

The following pages give information for staff working with students with a range of conditions that are included under the umbrella terms of 'Disabilities and Neurodiverse conditions'. The guides give a general overview only and two individuals with the same condition may vary considerably in terms of how they are best able to access teaching and course materials.

Services at SOAS

The Disability & Neurodiversity Team contacts all students at SOAS who have declared that they are disabled (e.g. visual or hearing impairment, mobility difficulties), or have a neurodiverse condition (e.g. autistic spectrum conditions, Specific Learning Differences like dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD). The Disability & Neurodiversity advisors aim to meet all students declaring a Disability or Neurodiverse condition as soon as possible to discuss what needs to be in place to ensure they are able to access the course. As a result of that conversation and upon receipt of medical or other supporting evidence, a Study Inclusion Plan (SIP) is completed. 

The student is responsible for reviewing and confirming their Study Inclusion Plan (SIP) each academic year in order to distribute it to their new module convenors via their online student services on the student intranet.Students should also make a PDF of their SIP and email it to other teaching staff (e.g. Graduate Teaching Assistants or Programme Convenors). If the student changes modules or wants to share the SIP with other teaching staff, it will be up to them to send it separately. The academic department office will also have a copy of the SIP. Whether or not the student has an SIP, please feel free to liaise with the Disability & Neurodiversity Team throughout the course regarding any questions or concerns you may have.

FAQs regarding services available to students at SOAS.

A few ideas for initial contact with students

Make it clear to all students that you aim to make your classes accessible.

Ask students at the start if they need adjustments and invite them to come and see you or to email you for an appointment. Make it clear that any information will always be kept strictly confidential unless they agree to it being shared with other tutors.

Talk individually to students about their needs. Students have different learning needs and are members of diverse communities: a student with dyslexia may also be a single parent and a student with depression may also be struggling with finance. Talking to students about their individual needs helps to avoid pigeonholing students into specific groups with predictable and fixed approaches to learning.

Feel free to ask the Disability & Neurodiversity Team for any advice you might need by emailing disabilities@soas.ac.uk

Useful websites

Demos Project: online learning package
Aimed specifically at academic staff, this package examines the issues faced by disabled students in higher education.

Making your teaching inclusive (account required)
This site is full of practical advice about teaching inclusively and will give you an insight into what study is like for disabled students.

Social Model of DisabilityArticle by Tom Shakespeare on the Leeds University Disability Archive.