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Student disclosure of disability

Disability disclosure is a sensitive issue for many students however appropriate disclosure should be encouraged to enable access to services and support.

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About disclosure

Many students are reluctant to disclose their disability at University. The details may be sensitive, and they may fear discrimination or a negative perception as a consequence of disclosure. It may also be stressful or traumatic for a student to repeat information about their disability to several University staff in order to get their needs met.

Registering with Disability Services enables a student to negotiate their support at University without repeated disclosure. Disability Advisors fully assess the impact of a student's disability on their studies, in conjunction with supporting medical documentation, and assist the student to have their support needs met across the University. In most cases a Curtin Access Plan is developed to assist the student to communciate their needs to relevant staff. 

Students may also choose to speak directly to academic staff to negotiate their disability support needs. If it is possible to easily accommodate their request there is no need to involve Disability Services, however all requests for Alternative Examination Arrangements do need to be assessed by Disability Services. Disability Advisors are available for advice and assistance as required.

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Encouraging students to disclose

Early disclosure of disability and seeking appropriate support leads to the best possible outcomes for students with disabilties.

Schools/faculties can encourage disclosure in the following ways:

  • At Orientation, acknowledge the possibility that students may have disabilities and encourage them to discuss their needs with Disability Services and/or an appropriate faculty staff member.
  • Refer to the statement in unit outlines advising students about Curtin Access Plans and Disability Services.
  • Ensure all staff are aware of their responsibilities to students with disabilities/medical conditions, and know how to respond appropriately when approached by a student with a disability.
  • Create an inclusive environment which encourages disclosure and/or seeking assistance. This may include ensuring that course content is non-discriminatory, and that appropriate language is used around disability.
  • Treat any information disclosed with sensitivity and confidentiality.
  • Remember that most disabilities are invisible hence it cannot be assumed that someone does or does not have a disability.

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Exceptions to confidentiality

There are some exceptions to how confidential disability information is handled if disclosure is required by law or is deemed necessary in the interest of public safety or the student's own safety. Prior to any disclosure in these circumstances, advice should be obtained from Disability Services or Legal and Compliance Services.

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More information

Please refer to the following links for more information on student disclosure:

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