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Disability is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. 

The Equality Act 2010 seeks to protect individuals from being treated unfairly because of any different abilities or disabilities they may have. The Act defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that has a 'substantial' and 'long-term' negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities. 

Disability, therefore, extends beyond physical impairments. It includes both visible and non-visible conditions, such as mobility-based confitions, neurodivergent conditions, and people living with cancer, multiple sclerosis, significant visual impairment, or HIV.

People with impairments experience different disabling barriers and universities can provide a range of support and adjustments to remove or mitigate the effects of the barrier. This can be done on an individual level, or by anticipating barriers, universities can remove barriers in advance for all students and staff. It is therefore essential that everyone is aware of universities' responsibility to provide accessible and inclusive services and to provide 'reasonable adjustments' for students and staff. 

To help ensure we do our best to continuously support our students and staff with disabilities, we have joined the Disability Confident scheme as an employer who is Disability Confident Committed. The commitments we have signed up to as part of this scheme are as follows: 

  • inclusive and accessible recruitment 
  • communicating vacancies 
  • offering an interview to disabled people 
  • providing reasonable adjustments 
  • supporting existing employees.

Our work as an employer who is Disability Confident Committed is supported by collaboration and consultation with our Disability Staff Network and Disabled Students Network, as we work to centre lived experience in our efforts to create a more inclusive campus environment. 

St Mary's Initiatives to Promote Disability Inclusion

The Sunflower Scheme   

One core initiative in fostering an inclusive culture for St Mary’s disabled staff and students is our participation in the Sunflower Scheme. Launched by our Disability Staff Network, SMSU, Widening Participation, and Student Services, the scheme allows staff and students with hidden disabilities to discreetly indicate to people around them that they might need additional support, help, or a little more time. Staff and students are able to pick up a sunflower lanyard, bracelet, or badge from Student Services, Registry, the Student's Union, HR, and Main Reception. Staff and students who would like to find out more information about the Sunflower Scheme at St Mary’s may do so by accessing our Moodle page.    

More information on our work with the Sunflower Scheme and Disability Confident can be found on our Disability Confident and Disability Inclusion page

Resources and support for students

What do I do if I have, or think I have a disability at St Mary's?

Our Student Wellbeing Service offers confidential advice and support to students who have support requirements as a result of a recognised disability, mental health condition, specific learning difference (such as dyslexia, ADHD, and dyspraxia), medical condition(s) or a temporary disability, such as injury. We have over 900 students registered with our service at St Mary's University so you won't be the only one! You can self-refer for disability and dyslexia support from a phone or computer. For more information on the ways we can provide support, or how we provide that support, visit our Disability and Dyslexia Support page.   

Careers support   

Employability Services, through the Careers Service and Centre for Workplace Learning, also offers support and careers advice for students with disabilities, a long-term health condition or a specific learning difference. If your programme has the option to undertake a workplace learning module we can support with finding placements through our relationships with local employers. To learn more, visit our Workplace Learning Moodle pages We can also help with finding disability confident employers and engaging with them positively for example how to disclose. We also have the Employability Confident programme to support employability development for students with disabilities. To find out more and book an appointment please visit our Careers Service Moodle page.   

Additional resources  

  • Seek support from a trained counsellor in our Student Wellbeing Service.  
  • Seek support from a member of our St Mary's Student Union student officer team.

Resources and support for staff

We have several options for staff members with disabilities who are seeking advice and support, one of which is applying to Access to Work. Staff seeking wellbeing support are encouraged to reach out to one of our trained St Mary’s Mental Health First Aiders or our 24/7 Employee Assistance Programme. Both of these services are confidential and available to all St Mary’s staff. For more information on the ways we can provide support, visit our Support for Staff Who Have Disabilities page. For line managers looking for guidance as to how best support employees who have disabilities, visit our Guidance for Managers on Supporting Staff with Disabilities page.   

We also invite you to join St Mary’s Disability Staff Network - devoted to improving the experience of disabled staff at the University. Their intranet page provides a range of information and useful resources and training at St Mary’s and details of external resources.

 Finally, our Dignity at Work Statement and Dignity at Work Policy provide additional support for staff.