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HEFCE

CP3/95 Specification for Disability Statements to be Required from Institutions

Higher Education Funding Council for England

Proposed Specification for Disability Statements to be Required from Institutions


To Heads of HEFCE-funded institutions
Heads of DENI-funded institutions
Summary Consultation document seeking comments on the proposal purpose and content of the Disability Statements to be required from higher education institutions.
Reference 3/95
Publication Date December 1995
Response by by Friday 5 April 1996
Enquiries to Sandie Cusack Tel 0117 931 7363n

Introduction

1.  Following the Government's White Paper, "Ending Discrimination 
Against Disabled People" the Disability Discrimination Bill gained Royal 
Assent on 8 November 1995. It addresses issues of discrimination in 
employment and in the provision of goods, facilities and services. Higher 
education institutions (HEIs) will need to take account of the new Act in 
their capacity as employers. The Act also amends the Further and Higher 
Education Act 1992 to impose new statutory duties on the Funding Councils. 

2.  The amendments to the 1992 Act are:

In section 62 (establishment of higher education funding councils), after 
sub-section (7) the following is inserted -

`In exercising their functions, each council shall have regard to the 
requirements of disabled persons.'

In section 65 (administration of funds provided by higher education 
funding councils), after subsection (4) the following is inserted -

`Without prejudice to the power to impose conditions given by sub-section 
(3) above, the conditions subject to which a council makes grants, loans 
or other payments under this section to the governing body of a higher 
education institution shall require the governing body to publish 
disability statements at such intervals as may be specified.'

Disability statement means a statement containing information of a 
specified description about the provision of facilities for education and 
research made by the institution in respect of persons who are disabled 
persons for the purposes of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995; and 
Specified means specified in the conditions subject to which grants, loans 
or other payments are made by a council under this section.' "  

3.  While the law now requires HEIs to produce and publish disability 
statements the Council wishes to consult institutions on the details of 
these statements, in particular: their purpose and content; the frequency 
of their production; and the proposed timetable for their completion in 
1996. 

4.  This consultation document is addressed to all heads of institutions 
but should also be directed at all those with responsibility for providing 
support for students with learning difficulties and disabilities.

Purpose

5.  Disability statements provide disabled students with a description 
of the facilities for education and research that an HEI offers them. The 
statements will also inform the Council of such provision and will offer 
institutions the opportunity to highlight good work which the Council may 
draw upon in the future to identify and promote examples of good practice. 

6.  It is not intended through this requirement to compel institutions 
to make changes in their provision. Institutions will continue to decide 
for themselves what provision they should offer. However, the Council 
encourages HEIs to consider their provision for students with disabilities 
and to plan strategically for future developments. 

7.  In order to achieve these objectives the statements will need to 
cover the nature and range of provision for disabled students available at 
an institution. These will need to inform disabled students whether 
provision is suitable for their requirements and needs, and should provide 
such students with the opportunity to acquire further information as 
necessary. Therefore, there should be a balance between providing relevant 
information in the statement and referring to further detail available 
elsewhere. 

8.  Institutions are invited to comment on the main purposes of the 
statements:

a.  To inform disabled students of the provision available. 

b.  To inform the Council of the nature and extent of provision. 

9.  The Council proposes that the disability statements should be 
concise, informative and developmental. Therefore, institutions need not 
reproduce details of existing policies and other related information if it 
is available in separate documents. However, the statements should make 
clear reference to other relevant documents and give details of their 
availability. Other related information should be available at the request 
of interested parties. Institutions will need to consider producing their 
statements and other related material in a number of formats - for 
example, large print, Braille and on tape in order to meet the particular 
requirements of individual disabled students.

Content of the Disability Statements 

10. It is proposed that the statements be structured under the following 
headings: 

a.  Existing policy.

b.  Existing provision.

c.  Future activity and future policy development.

Existing Policy

11. The statement should contain general information on policies and 
procedures as they relate to disabled students in respect of: equal 
opportunities; admissions; examinations and assessments; complaints and 
appeals procedures; quality assessment and monitoring and evaluation of 
support services; staff development and training programmes. Information 
on community/regional links, sectoral/national links and links to support 
agencies/external bodies could also be referred to. Existing Provision

12. Statements would then describe the nature and range of provision 
available to students with disabilities. It should include: 

a.  Name and title of the co-ordinator and also of the member of senior 
management responsible for students with specific learning difficulties or 
disabilities and their contact details (telephone, facsimile, email 
address, standard address). 

b.  The types of information, advice services and materials provided: 
for example, are these disability specific or general counselling and 
welfare?How is support provided - for example, through publications or 
individually by disability advisers? Details of the kind of disability 
support available should be included - for example, human support 
(interpreters, readers) and technical support (equipment and IT) 

c.  Information on academic and curriculum services and support: for 
example, special marking provision (marking content and structure 
separately); special arrangements for examinations and details of 
available support for placement students (including foreign students). 

d.  Information on welfare and careers services including personal 
assistance arrangements, specialist qualified careers advisors and the 
existence of support groups. 

e.  Information on the availability of IT provision: for example, 
equipment loans and purchase advisory services. 

f.  A description of the physical environment: is it a split site 
institution? location of the campus or buildings; access for physically 
disabled students to academic facilities - including Libraries; provision 
of loops; residential accommodation; all other aspects of the site - for 
example access to students union buildings and facilities; catering 
facilities; welfare facilities; sport and leisure facilities; car parks. 

g.  Information on other provision in relation to: medical facilities; 
transport provision; religious and spiritual worship; external services 
(banks, shops), awards ceremonies. Future Activity and Future Development

13. The statements should provide institutions with the opportunity to 
outline their plans for future policy development and improvements to 
provision. This would provide useful information for both the Council and 
potential students. 

14. Institutions are invited to comment on the content of the 
statements, including: 

a.  The appropriateness of the proposed content.

b.  The examples outlined under the three main headings and any 
additional areas which should be included.  

c.  The timescale which the details of future development should cover. 

d.  Whether further guidance on the content would be helpful.  

Frequency of Publication

15. Institutions are invited to consider how frequently the statements 
should be produced. There are a number of options: 

a.  Annual statements - a full statement could be produced annually in 
order to ensure that up-to-date information was available. 

b.  Triennially - a full statement could be produced once every three 
years 

c.  Annual up-date - while provision may change in detail on a yearly 
basis, policy and future plans are less likely to. A comprehensive 
statement might be required every three years with annual updates 
submitted in accordance with the timetable for strategic plans. 

16. Institutions are asked to comment on the frequency of publication of 
the statements and on the possible future link with the strategic planning 
timetable.

Dissemination 

17. One of the main purposes of producing the statements is to provide 
information to students with disabilities. In order for this information 
to reach prospective students, institutions are required to publish their 
statements.  The statements could be tailored for:

-   use as publicity in prospectus and other pre-admissions literature 
-   inclusion in staff induction and awareness training sessions 
-   use in marketing of institutional services.

18. While institutions will need to decide how to produce and promote 
their statements in order to make them accessible, the Council will also 
consider ways in which it might usefully disseminate the information 
provided in the statements. For example, the content of statements could 
be used to produce guidelines on good practice. 

19. Institutions may wish to comment on how the Council might 
disseminate information received in the statements.

Proposed Timetable

20. The following timetable is intended to allow sufficient time for 
HEIs to develop and complete their statements:  

23 May 1996     HEFCE Board approves final template

31 May 1996     Request for first year's Disability Statements issued 

30 September 1996   First Disability Statements received.

21. In future years, if statements are to be returned as part of the 
strategic planning timetable, an earlier return would be needed. 

22. Institutions are asked to comment on the timetable proposed for the 
first year's exercise.

Length of Statements

23. The production of these statements should not impose an undue burden 
on institutions, since many institutions already have similar information 
available. The length of disability statements will be determined by 
individual institutions. However, if they are to provide sufficient 
information for students, statements are likely to be about four pages of 
A4.

Summary of Consultation Questions

24. Institutions are invited to comment on the main purposes of the 
statements: 

a.  To inform disabled students of the provision available.

b.  To inform Council of the nature and extent of provision.

25. Institutions are invited to comment on the content of statements 
including: 

a.  The appropriateness of the proposed content.

b.  The examples outlined under the three main headings and any 
additional areas which should be included.  

c.  The timescale which the details of future development should cover. 

d.  Whether further guidance on the content would be helpful.  

26. Institutions are asked to comment on the frequency of publication of 
the statements and on the possible future link with the strategic planning 
timetable. 

27. Institutions may wish to comment on how the Council might 
disseminate information received in the statements. 

28. Institutions are asked to comment on the timetable proposed for the 
first year's exercise.

Responses

Responses are invited by Wednesday 3 April 1996, to: 

    Ms Sandie Cusack
    HEFCE
    Northavon House
    Coldharbour Lane
    Bristol
    BS16 1QD.