This section is a practical guide on how to welcome, encourage, and facilitate the admission of disabled students by providing the support they need in interviews.
Please also read the general guidance on meeting people and working with their assistants.
- General guidance
- Unseen impairment or illness
- Specific learning difficulties
- Visual impairments
- Hearing impairments
- Mobility impairments
- Asperger syndrome/ High-functioning autism
- Enrolling/registering for a course
It is worth asking all candidates if there is anything they would like to tell the interviewers about any impairment and consequent support requirements. When arranging interviews, ask them if they have any particular access requirements, which could include interpretation as well as physical access. Please remember that disabled people are still a minority in higher education, and their own knowledge that they may have to overcome barriers may make them more nervous. They may be concerned, mistakenly, that disclosure of impairment may make it less likely that they will be offered a place. Don't forget that they will be the experts in their own requirements, and that they will be experienced in overcoming barriers in whatever subject they have applied for.
This might mean that a candidate cannot attend for interview on a particular day, so please be flexible with interview dates. Even then, the candidate may attend on what is for them a bad day, when they underperform. You can trust them to be knowledgeable on their own impairment and how it has affected them. The question on support requirements would provide an opportunity to disclose their impairment or illness.
Candidates with SpLDs often receive access arrangements for public exams, such as GCSEs and A levels. If a candidate is required to sit an exam as part of the interview process, his/her exam arrangements should be replicated. If the interview includes commenting on and discussing written material, the candidate should be given the passage to read in advance with additional time as above. Using a sans serif font with a minimum point size of 12 is recommended for all written materials. Versions should be available on cream paper. Occasionally, candidates with SpLD can experience word retrieval difficulties when speaking when they are nervous or anxious. Please bear this in mind when interviewing.
People with visual impairment are likely to require information about their interview in a format such as computer disk, large print, email, or Braille. Where it is usual practice to give a written test, consult the candidate in advance to ascertain their preferred format. The candidate may wish to dictate his/her answers. The candidate may need to be met and guided to the interview room, and please remember that he/she may have difficulty making eye contact. Introduce yourself and anybody else present when you meet them, and say a clear 'good-bye' so that they know when you are leaving them. You may have to accommodate a guide dog.
Please read the notes on lip-reading. A Deaf person may regard British Sign Language, with its own grammatical structure, as his/her first language, so please consider their ability to read English in light of this. Support for an interviewee with hearing impairment may be technological (e.g. a hearing loop) or personal (e.g. an interpreter). Address questions to the candidate and not the interpreter, and also remember that interpretation will mean the interview needs extra time.
A candidate whose mobility is impaired, and who may be a wheelchair user, will need flat and spacious access to the interview building and room, and access to a suitable toilet. The shorter the distances people have to move, the better. Some candidates may need longer breaks. Some may also have speech impairments (they may need an interpreter), or impairments affecting face muscles that make it harder to maintain eye contact or control facial expression.
People with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, may have difficulty with social skills such as conversation, eye contact, and body language, so please make allowances for this and put them at ease. For more information and further resources, see the Etiquette page.
Standing in a queue to fill in a form to enrol or register can be difficult for any disabled people. You may be able to offer online or telephone enrolment instead. If enrolment in person is essential, please ensure that the venue is accessible, that people can sit down when queuing, and that help to fill in forms is available.