Students with Disabilities Disclosure Guidelines


Application

Prospective and current students at the University and staff members

Purpose

To support students with disclosing disabilities or impairments in order to access services and adjustments to support their success at the University.

Confidentiality

The University takes confidentiality issues seriously. However, with the consent of the student, relevant information about their disability or impairment and required support strategies can be discussed with appropriate staff members. This can also reduce the need for students to continually explain their requirements.

Introduction

The University has made a commitment in its Strategic Plan 2013 – 2020 to ‘Identify students of ability whose personal circumstances limit their opportunity to access and succeed at University and assist them to overcome those barriers through a coordinated, research-informed suite of support programmes.’. It seeks to create an inclusive learning environment in which students feel safe to disclose disabilities or impairments.

The Kia Ōrite / Achieving Equity Code of Practice for an Inclusive Tertiary Education Environment for Students with Impairments (Ministry of Education, 2004, p. 42) outlines a vision where:

‘Communication systems are effective in providing relevant and timely information to both staff and students, and a safe environment exists for students to disclose impairment information.’

Guidelines

The decision to disclose is a personal one, and may depend on the nature of disabilities or impairments, the type of course or programme being undertaken and the kind of support that is needed.

There is no legal requirement for students to disclose information about their disability or impairment at the time of application or enrolment.

However, in order to access disability support, such as special accommodations for studies, tests and examinations, students will need to disclose information about their disability or impairment to the relevant section/s of the University such as Student Disability Services, University Health and Counselling, Examinations Office, Inclusive Learning and appropriate faculty staff.

Reasons for disclosure

Early disclosure can enhance a successful outcome for the student and assist staff members in managing their workload. It takes time for Student Disability Services and other support services to plan, organise and implement requested support and adjustments.

If students do not disclose, it may be difficult to arrange any course-related adjustments and lecturers or tutors may not be able to meet students’ specific needs that remain unknown to them.

Students may choose to disclose their disabilities or impairments because:

  • It may help prevent and/or reduce barriers.
  • Support can be put in place, e.g. having access to all the services available from Student Disability Services and other services at the University of Auckland.
  • It gives students the opportunity to explain the impact their disability has on their study.
  • Disclosure may help the University respond to the needs of other students with disabilities.

What is disclosing and who needs to know?

Disclosing is when a student shares information about their disability, impairment or medical condition and their specific needs with an appropriate staff member.

Some types of support, such as note-taking, accommodations for tests and exams, disability car-parking or access to disability study areas is only available to students who have registered with Student Disability Services.

To do this, students need to provide current documentation from a relevant health or other professional to confirm their disability or impairment.  Student Disability Services staff will discuss with the student what kind of information is required.

Wherever practicable, and subject to consent, Student Disability Services (and Inclusive Learning for students with learning disabilities) can liaise on behalf of the student with the relevant department(s) and/or staff members about appropriate support strategies.

When to disclose?

Disclosure can occur at any time including:

Application stage

Students have the opportunity to disclose a disability or impairment when applying for acceptance at the University. This information is collected for (1) statistical reporting of students with disabilities (in a form which ensures individuals cannot be identified) as required under NZ law or by statutory agencies and (2) used within the University to enable staff to provide appropriate services to students with disabilities or impairments.

Disclosure is required to prove eligibility if applying for admission on the basis of disability or impairment to limit-entry programmes or courses through an Undergraduate Targeted Admission Scheme (UTAS).

Prior to the start of Semester

Students requiring support should contact Student Disability Services before lectures start to ensure there is adequate time to identify and implement appropriate strategies.

At any time during their studies

Students can discuss initial or changing requirements with Student Disability Services or a University staff member of their choice.  

How to disclose?

When disclosing a disability or impairment to a staff member, it is important that the student provides as much information as practicable about the impact of their disability or impairment on their study and the kinds of support needed.

Choice of degree and subjects

Students choosing a course of study that leads to a professional qualification (such as law, teaching, nursing, or other medical professions) should make themselves aware of the relevant registration requirements for becoming a practitioner, in addition to on-course study and work-placement requirements.

Feedback on these guidelines is welcome at any time and will be considered carefully and in regular reviews on policy and guidelines.

Definitions

Disability: many definitions of disability exist. The New Zealand Disability Strategy: 2016-2026 (Office for Disability Issues, 2016, p. 12) states that:

‘Disability is something that happens when people with impairments face barriers in society; it is society that disables us, not our impairments, this is the thing all disabled people have in common. It is something that happens when the world we live in has been designed by people who assume that everyone is the same. That is why a non-disabling society is core to the vision of this Strategy.’

The Kia Ōrite / Achieving Equity Code of Practice for an Inclusive Tertiary Education Environment for Students with Impairments (Ministry of Education, 2004, pp. 6-7) adopts a similar vision for a fully inclusive environment. The Code of Practice outlines how tertiary education providers should aim to identify and remove barriers in all areas of campus life, and refers to people or students with impairments. This includes people with permanent impairments, those with impairments resulting from long or short-term injury or illness, the Deaf community and people with other impairments such as a learning disability, neurological or cognitive difficulties, mental illness and other more hidden impairments.

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) provides Equity Funding to support students with the following range of permanent (ongoing for six months or longer) or temporary disabilities or impairments, including (but not limited to):

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Deaf
  • Hearing impairment
  • Blind
  • Vision impairment
  • Specific learning disabilities (e.g. dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia)
  • Medical
  • Head injury
  • Mental health
  • Physical/mobility
  • Speech impairment

Staff member refers to an individual employed by the University on a full or part time basis.

University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.

Document management and control

Owner: Pro Vice-Chancellor (Equity)

Content manager: Manager, Student Disability Services

Date approved: 24 July 2019

Review date: 24 July 2022