physical disabilities

having a physical disability at university

Student Support Service (SSS)

SSS can provide you with a wealth of support. You will have to disclose your disability to them and provide evidence and SSS give you the option not to tell your school or anyone else in the university. They are a separate department and information cannot be disclosed to anyone without your consent.  They can help with:

  • Information and advice on planning for university life and study
  • Specialist study skills tuition
  • Access and accommodation requirements
  • Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) applications and process
  • Assessment of study support needs
  • Examination arrangements
  • Access to relevant local services and advice to your home Social Services providers
  • Provision of additional study support
  • Loaning laptops and other equipment
  • Assistance with Fresher’s Week and registration if required
  • Campus orientation
  • Liaising with Faculties and Schools of Study
  • 1:1 confidential counselling
  • 1:1 advice and guidance meetings with a mental health or disability advisor


The best way to ensure the support meets your individual needs is to have an appointment with a disabilities advisor.  This can be done in person or over the phone.  You will need to fill in an Information and Disclosure form.

If you have a medical condition or disability that from time to time may cause a seizure, anaphylaxis, hypo- or hyperglycaemia or other adverse event you will also need to fill in a Notification of Medical Condition.

You can contact SSS on or by calling their reception at 01603592761.


Your Hub

You may also find it useful to submit your evidence of disability to your hub. If you are unwell around a deadline, they will be able to help you get an extension and you can also let the exam board know, meaning that your disability will be taken into account when they decide your final mark.

PEEP form

The aim of a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) is to provide people who cannot get themselves out of a building unaided during an emergency situation, with a managed arrangement to evacuate the building. In particular this will be the case for persons who are unable to use fire escape staircases. If you need a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) to access an area of a university building, contact the Fire Safety Officer, University Safety Services on  who has responsibility for developing and reviewing all PEEPs.


If you are in a wheelchair, in case of a fire you may have to use an Evacuchair. If you cannot get yourself out of your wheelchair you will not be able to go upstairs in a building that doesn’t have a fire safe lift. You will need to let the university know, so that they can timetable you correctly, so you can access all of your teaching hours. You will also need a PEEP form.

Disabled Students Allowance (DSA)

You can apply for DSA to cover some of the extra costs you have because of a mental health problem, long term illness or any other disability. You can get the allowances on top of your other student finance. You won’t need to repay DSA. How much you get depends on your individual needs - not your household income.

2017 to 2018 academic year:

Type of student

Specialist equipment allowance

Non-medical helper allowance

General allowance


Up to £5,358 for the whole course

Up to £21,305 a year

Up to £1,790 a year


Up to £5,358 for the whole course

Up to £15,978 a year

Up to £1,342 a year

Postgraduates can get a single allowance of up to £10,652 a year. These figures are the maximum amounts - most students get less.

What DSA can pay for

You can get help with the costs of:

  • specialist equipment, for example a computer if you need one because of your disability
  • non-medical helpers
  • extra travel because of your disability
  • other disability-related costs of studying

You may get a new computer if you don’t already have one, or your current one doesn’t meet the required specification. More information will be provided to you if you’re assessed as needing a new computer. You’ll need to pay the first £200, which is the minimum cost that any student is likely to incur when buying a computer.

Your ‘needs assessment’

Once your eligibility for DSA is confirmed, Student Finance England may ask you to contact an assessment centre to work out what help you need. This is known as a needs assessment. Don’t book this until Student Finance England asks you to. The assessment is paid for through any DSAs entitlement you may have. After the assessment, you’ll get a report listing equipment and other support you can get for your course.

Radar keys

If your disability causes you to have an urge to go to the toilet, or you need a wheelchair accessible facility, you may want to get a radar key. You are eligible to buy a radar key without VAT. You can buy a one here.

Money off on campus accommodation

If you need a wheelchair accessible room, or an en-suite room, then you may be eligible for a discount on you accommodation. To access this you will need to speak to SSS at

Nap nook

The nap nook is a chill out zone on the top floor of Union House. You can go there to have a nap or just chill out. This can be really useful if you have a condition causing fatigue or just need to take some time out and don’t live on campus.

Home run

If you want to live off campus but have certain needs when it comes to accommodation, Home Run is a good place to start. Home Let is the SU’s own letting agency, and Home Run is an accreditation scheme run by the Union. Both provide a range of houses and flats. One of the big benefits of using them is that these services don’t charge fees to students. They also list the properties accessible facilities in an easy to view checklist. To find out more about this click here or contact the Advice Centre downstairs in Union House.

Medical Centre

One of your first ports of call should be the medical centre on campus. They will be able to help with referring you to CBT and with any medication you need. All the doctors there are used to dealing with students and see lots of people with a variety of mental health conditions every day. If you are not registered you can register online.


Umbrella is the peer support group for students with disabilities. They have weekly meetings that you can attend which you can attend. You can sign up here. It’s totally free and you will receive email updates about the meeting times and their social events.