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Online Materials for Staff Disability Awareness


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(See also: Abbreviations & Acronyms)


Alternative format
Many disabled students have problems accessing text-based documents. Therefore, it is necessary to produce an alternative version of the document. For blind and visually impaired students it may be necessary to produce brailled copies of documents or sometimes tapes with spoken versions of the text. Dyslexic students are also beginning to use tapes and the spoken word to access text. Other formats include enlarged font documents and web based versions. (Find out more.)
see: scribe
Assistive technology
Refers to a range of technological devices that a disabled person can use to access their environment. In its broadest sense this term could include devices such as wheelchairs and hearing aids. More usually it refers to devices that use computer technology:
  • to enhance access in general such as handheld spellcheckers;
  • to enable access to computers and computer networks;
  • specialist software written for disabled people.
For a fuller discussion please see: http://www.disinhe.ac.uk/library/chapter.asp?id=85 [External link: Open in new browser window]



British Sign Language
The language used by the deaf community in the UK. It has its own grammar and syntax, completely different from the grammatical rules of English. It uses both manual and non-manual components: handshapes and movements, facial expressions and shoulder movement. (Royal National Institute for the Deaf RNID)
For a useful list of links including the alphabet try: http://www.soft.net.uk/kclobb/bsl/bslpage.htm [External link: Open in new browser window]



Disability Premium - Mainstream Disability Funding
This is a fund that the Higher Education Funding Council for England allocates to higher education providers; it is part of the university's block grant and is not ring-fenced. It is calculated using statistics on the proportion of students claiming DSAs.
For further details see: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/circlets/2000/cl07%5F00.htm [External link: Open in new browser window]
Allocations to HEIs for 2001-03 are available in Annex A of the following document: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/Pubs/hefce/2002/02_21.htm [External link: Open in new browser window]
Disabled Students' Allowances
There are three allowances available:
  • A general allowance to pay for additional study materials such as books and photocopying costs.
  • A specialist equipment allowance that can pay for a computer with specialist software and various other bits of equipment such as a spellchecker etc.
  • A non-medical helpers allowance which can pay for human support for example deaf students might need BSL interpreters in lectures or dyslexic students might need additional tuition from a dyslexia specialist tutor.
Disability Statements
These are statements produced by higher and further education providers, of their provision for disabled students. Institutions were legally bound to produce them as part of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) however, since the introduction of SENDA in September 2002 they are no longer required by law.


Although not a definition of graduateness the following quote from the HEQC document on the subject succinctly describes the term:
The idea that graduates should be expected to possess certain general qualities as a consequence of their experience of higher education...
Examples of these general qualities include:
  • managing tasks and solving problems,
  • working with others,
  • a grounding in the content and methods of the discipline.
Source: The Higher Education Quality Council (HEQC) (1996) What Are Graduates? Clarifying The Attributes Of 'Graduateness' - A paper to stimulate discussion. London: HEQC. http://www.lgu.ac.uk/deliberations/graduates/starter.html [External link: Open in new browser window]



Higher Education Funding Council for England.
HEFCE are responsible for allocating government monies to higher education institutions in England for research and teaching. Allocations often reflect current policy initiatives such as widening participation and disability.



Although the numbers of disabled students attending higher education has increased in recent years, in order for inclusion to be achieved universities must ensure that this numerical increase is coupled with strategic polices and practices that ensure that the student is given a equal chance to participate fully in the educational environment and is supported in order to achieve to the best of his/her ability.
'Inclusive education means disabled and non-disabled children and young people learning together in ordinary pre-school provision, schools, colleges and universities, with appropriate networks of support.
Inclusion means enabling pupils to participate in the life and work of mainstream institutions to the best of their abilities, whatever their needs.'
(From the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education (CSIE) website [External link: Open in new browser window] )
Individual Medical Model
Sometimes referred to as the individual model or the deficit model.
Michael Oliver (1996) has raised 2 important points that describe the essential elements of this model:
..it locates the 'problem' of disability within the individual and secondly it sees the causes of this problem as stemming from the functional limitations or psychological losses which are assumed to arise from disability.
The model focuses on how the individual copes with their impairment and is linked to the medicalisation of disability summed up in the medical model. That is, disabled people have historically been 'treated' by the medical profession who seek to find cures and measures to help the individual overcome the personal tragedy of disability.
To gain a fuller understanding of this model it is important to contrast it with the social model of disability.



Previously education was excluded in most respects from legislation that covers disability (i.e. the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)1995). However, recently the SENDA was passed through parliament. The SENDA bill covers most aspects of educational provision. Universities are legally required to offer 'reasonable adjustments' and ensure that they do not 'unfairly treat' disabled students. (see: SENDA)



(sometimes referred to as a Text Telephone (TTY))
Minicom is actually a brand name for a textphone. A textphone is a device that is used instead of a voice telephone by people who are deaf or have a speech impairment.
A textphone has a keyboard like the keyboard on a computer and a scrolling display screen. Instead of speaking into a telephone mouthpiece, you type what you want to say on to the screen. (Royal National Institute for the Deaf RNID)
For more information:
http://www.ultratec.com/info/TTYWhatis.html [External link: Open in new browser window]



panic attacks
A psychologically triggered experience that consists of a number of discomforting physiological symptoms that a person experiences e.g. dizziness, feeling that you will faint, increased heart rate, shortness of breath. 'Sufferers' usually experience such symptoms when they are in a situation that is perceived as stressful for the individual and which acts as a trigger for the attack e.g. examination rooms. Attacks are often the result of or can lead to agoraphobia, sociophobia or a phobia linked to the trigger situation.



QAA Code of Practice
The Quality Assurance Agency has introduced a suite of 7 codes of practice which will be used to guide subject review teams. One of these codes of practice covers provision for students with disabilities and is a useful starting point for those wishing to examine the standard of their support for this group of students. Another code covers assessment practices.
[External link: Open in new browser window]



Reasonable Adjustments
This is a term used in the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (2001) and refers to positive steps that an institution must take towards ensuring that disabled people are not treated less favourably than others when accessing higher education. It is anticipatory in application i.e. higher education providers are expected to make steps towards ensuring inclusion from September 2002 and it will not be valid for a university to only make adjustments as and when a student arrives or applies.
Please see Chapter Five of the SENDA code of Practice for a full discussion:
http://www.drc-gb.org/drc/InformationAndLegislation/Page34A.asp [External link: Open in new browser window]



Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (SENDA) (DDA Part IV)
This Act was passed through parliament in 2001 and is an amendment to the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995. From September 1st 2002, the Act makes discrimination against disabled people in the provision of education, training and related services unlawful.
Learn more:
[External link: Open in new browser window]
SENDA - Code of Practice - Post-16 provision
This document gives extremely useful guidance on how the SEN and Disability Act may be interpreted in law. Case studies are highlighted to explain key points such as 'reasonable adjustment' and 'less favourable treatment'.
[External link: Open in new browser window]
Social Model
Oliver (1996) states that disability is:
...all the things that impose restrictions on disabled people; ranging from individual prejudice to institutional discrimination, from inaccessible public buildings to unusable transport systems, from segregated education to excluding work arrangements, and so on.
The onus is on society to remove such barriers and focus is placed on dealing with disabled people as a group who are discriminated against.
This is in contrast to the individual or medical models of disability, which focus on an individual's experience of impairment and in seeking medical interventions to lessen the impact of impairment.
scribe (or amanuensis)
Disabled students often make use of a scribe for the purposes of examinations where a computer is unavailable or inaccessible. The scribe handwrites or types a manuscript of the information that is relayed to them through speech or in some cases sign language (e.g. deaf students). It is recommended that the scribe receives some training in the method so that for instance they do not try to interpret what the student communicates and that the student practices dictating before using the method in an examination situation.
Study Skills
Many groups of students will benefit from information that guides their study at university. Subjects covered might include examination techniques, how to complete a reading list, how to structure an essay etc. Certain groups of disabled students (such as dyslexic students) often rely on some structured study skills support from a trained tutor.



Universal design
Universal design, is design that provides access to objects, technological devices, urban spaces and learning environments, for as broad a range of people as possible without the need for assistive devices or where this is not possible it is at least compatible with the use of assistive devices.
Note on terminology: There are several phrases being used at the moment to describe these general principles - universal design, inclusive design, design for all, transgenerational design, barrier-free design.
For a further discussion on this and inclusive design in general see: http://www.drc.org.uk/drc/Documents/
(PDF file)