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Declaring a disability

Declaring a disability

Equality Act 2010 Legislation states that students who declare a mental health difficulty to the University are entitled to have their specific needs considered and appropriate support put in place.

The Equality Act 2010 gives the definition of disability as follows:

 ‘A person has a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment, and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.’

 For the purposes of the Act, these words have the following meanings:

  • 'substantial' means more than minor or trivial
  • 'long-term' means that the effect of the impairment has lasted or is likely to last for at least twelve months (there are special rules covering recurring or fluctuating conditions)
  • 'normal day-to-day activities' include everyday things like eating, washing, walking and going shopping

Progressive conditions considered to be a disability:

There are additional provisions relating to people with progressive conditions. People with HIV, cancer or multiple sclerosis are protected by the Act from the point of diagnosis. People with some visual impairments are automatically deemed to be disabled. 

What does it mean to declare your health to the university?

The Equality Act 2010 supersedes the Disability Discrimination Act. This legislation states that students with health conditions that meet  the criteria of having a disability, are entitled to additional support. Disabilities create additional barriers to accessing education and students may be disadvantaged compared to their peers. The purpose of additional support is to remove these barriers and to put the student on a level playing field. Therefore, the University of Exeter encourages students to declare their health so that additional support options can be considered and put in place.   

What will happened once you’ve declared?

Once you’ve completed the mental health appointment request form, which invloves the declaration of your health, you will be offered an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) appointment.

During this appointment the impact of your mental health difficulties on your studies and time at university will be assessed and reasonable adjustments discussed. With your agreement an ILP and other possible adjustments will be put in place. The ILP will be communicated with your college and/or the exams team, and other adjustments with the relevant University teams. As part of your process your disability coding, stored on the restricted access student record system, will be changed.    

Please be aware that if you do not attend the ILP appointment reasonable adjustments will not put in place. However, as you will have declared your condition to the University by completing the online declaration form, your disability coding (stored on the restricted access student record system) will be changed. Please be aware that this data is sensitive data under the Data Protection Act. For more information see the University data protection pages.

If you would like to discuss this in more depth please email