When I did my degree, it was hard work. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to try and do that degree if I was also balancing a physical, medical or mental health condition, or a learning disability.
I therefore have a lot of respect for those of you who have health conditions or learning disabilities and who also take on the challenges of a university course/degree.
I don’t have a lived experience of studying with a disability, and from speaking with the Disability Advisors here at Flinders, one of the challenges I’ve learned that students with disabilities face, is how much (if any) information about their disability to disclose to lecturers/ tutors/ academics/ uni staff.
Whilst it is important to note that the only disclosure that is required, is to a Disability Advisor and that this is treated as confidential within Health, Counselling and Disability Services, disclosing to lecturers/ tutors/ academics/ uni staff can be helpful in getting suitable adjustments or supports (e.g. extra exam time, negotiating extensions on assignments, changes to course of study), but it can be confronting to know how much or what to disclose when asking for adjustments.
A tool that might be helpful in both thinking about and preparing to disclose is a ‘disclosure script‘.
A disclosure script is a pre-prepared and rehearsed explanation of your disabilities, strengths, limitations and the adjustments required for you to study effectively.
It is a way of making self-advocacy (i.e. speaking up for yourself publicly) easier.
Attached to this post (see at the end) is a quick guide to preparing a disclosure script. It describes what a disclosure script it, describes the steps to creating and using one, and provides some example scripts that you can use as a guide.
Even if you do not end up using the disclosure scripts you create, the process of creating a few can help you become a better self-advocate.
It can help you:
- better know your skills and strengths
- set and achieve goals
- take more timely action on your behalf in terms of seeking supports
- make well-informed decisions about courses
- better understand your limitations and the impact(s) of your disability
- feel more confident seeking out resources and supports
- know your rights and responsibilities
- communicate better with lecturers/ tutors/ academics and uni staff
Let me know if you find it useful, and please give me feedback (positive or negative) on how it could be improved.