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Supporting students

Our aim is to recognise factors which may put a student at a disadvantage to their peers. The completion of a Reasonable Adjustment Plan allows us to make individual recommendations to ensure that the University fullfills its obligation in giving disabled students fair and equal access to their education.

Home, International and European Union (EU) students who have been identified with a disability or specific learning difficulty are entitled to appropriate academic support in lectures and assessments. This can include equipment, extra time in exams and extra tutorial time. 

To have your support put in place you will need to make an appointment with us. In this meeting you will discuss your needs and the Adviser will produce a Reasonable Adjustment Plan detailing support. The Plan will be distributed to your School, and the agreed support should be in place within three weeks. 

Academic support is available for students with

  • Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD) such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD    
  • Autism Spectrum Conditions including Aspergers    
  • Mental Health Difficulties such as anxiety, depression and bipolar affective disorder    
  • Hearing and Visual Impairments    
  • Long term medical conditions such as epilepsy, Crohn's disease, cancer, HIV and diabetes    
  • Physical disabilities including M.S, cystic fibrosis, hypermobility syndrome and carpal tunnel syndrome    
  • Mobility difficulties    
  • Temporary injuries such as broken bones or recovery from an operation    

The sections below offer more detailed information on specific disabilities. There are also links to other sources for further information.

The most common form of autism encountered in higher education is Asperger Syndrome (A.S.)

A.S. was first described by a German doctor, Hans Asperger, in 1944. Social situations and communication for people with A.S. can often be especially problematic as often they may feel as if they are ‘on the outside’, and comments, turns of phrase, and metaphors such as ‘talk to the hand’ are often taken literally. Physical contact such as shaking hands can often make people with autism feel very uncomfortable. Some of the difficulties individuals may face in University Settings are:

Social Interaction and communication with peers and tutors

  • Lack of awareness of other’s feelings, at times of distress
  • Difficulties in making friendships and getting on with peers
  • Unusual social interaction
  • Inability in initiating or sustaining conversation
  • Limited communication or unusual non-verbal communication
  • Unusual production and content of speech
  • Absence of imaginative activity
  • Stereotyped body movements


  • Distress over ‘trivial’ changes (e.g. a change of lecture room or tutor)
  • Restricted/narrow interests and insistence on precise routines. 
  • Difficulties in dealing with unexpected or unpredictable situations, and unstructured personal and study time
  • Prioritizing tasks can be problematic

Overall Wellbeing

  • Learning to cope with new surroundings and routines
  • Challenges of fully accessing the wider social activities of University life

Examples of Academic and DSA Support Available 

  • Exam recommendations
  • Extra tutorial time
  • Library adjustments
  • Specialist mentor who can assist with time management, organisation and minimising anxiety
  • Provision of a digital voice recorder to use in lectures

How can we support you

Useful Links

Specific learning difficulties are defined as; ‘organising or learning difficulties which restrict the individual’s competencies in information processing, in motor skills and working memory, so causing limitations in some, or all, of the skills of speech, reading, spelling, writing, essay writing, numeracy and behaviour’ (Dyslexia Institute 1989).

Dyslexia impacts at least 6.8% of the students studying at The University of Salford.
Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty related to language. These difficulties can affect literacy and other areas such as memory and organisation skills.

Dyslexia is not related to intelligence, it is often balanced by other strengths, and can range from mild to severe in nature. Approximately 40% of students with dyslexia are identified as having dyslexia whilst at University.

Students who have dyslexia may have difficulties in some of the following areas:


  • Difficulties with planning & structuring essays
  • Differences between spoken and written ability
  • Poor spelling
  • Problems making lecture notes


  • Slow reading speed
  • Misreading
  • Difficulties extracting information from text
  • Problems in reading aloud without preparation


  • Poor organisational and time management skills
  • Difficulty meeting deadlines


  • Poor spatial orientation e.g. knowing left from right
  • Difficulty map reading
  • Difficulty following directions


  • Weak short-term memory
  • Forgetting names/telephone numbers
  • Short attention span


  • Writing speed may be slow and illegible
  • Clumsiness


  • Issues with numeracy skills/sequencing
  • The above is a list of issues common to dyslexia, some students may have additional difficulties not listed

What is an Assessment for Dyslexia?

How do I get assessed for Dyslexia?

I have already been assessed for Dyslexia

Dyscalculia is a specific learning difficulty in mathematics. Like dyslexia, dyscalculia can be caused by a visual perceptual deficit. Dyscalculia refers specifically to the difficulty performing operations in maths or arithmetic. Along with dyslexia, the extent to which you can be affected varies tremendously in each individual. Like dyslexia there is no single set of signs that characterises all dyslexics, there is no one cause of dyscalculia.

  • Understanding the signs: +, -, / and x
  • Adding numbers
  • Subtracting numbers
  • Confusion with mathematical symbols (plus/minus etc)
  • The words, plus, add, add-together
  • Reversing numbers 15 for 51 etc
  • Transposing numbers i.e., 364 - 634
  • Times tables
  • Mental arithmetic
  • Telling the time
  • Inability to follow directions
  • Difficulties with mathematics, calculations and learning number facts such as multiplication

It is estimated that from 3% to 10% of the population has the condition known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

No one knows exactly what causes ADD/ADHD. Scientific evidence suggests that it is genetically transmitted in many cases and results from a chemical imbalance or deficiency in certain neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that help the brain regulate behaviour. Whilst this is more common in children, ADD/ADHD can continue into adulthood.

Possible difficulties faced by a student with ADD/ADHD at Salford University

  • Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in coursework, work, or other activities
  • Difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or leisure activities
  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • Does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish work related to study, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behaviour or failure to understand instructions)
  • Difficulty organizing tasks and activities;
  • Avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as lectures, practicals or written work)
  • Loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., assignments, pencils, books, or tools)
  • Easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
  • Forgetful in daily activities

Irlen Syndrome is thought to affect about 50% of students with specific learning difficulties, such as dyslexia. The root of Irlen’s is in perceptual problems caused by light sensitivity.

Students with this condition often benefit from the use of coloured overlays or coloured glasses. The overlays or glasses work by filtering out light which causes distortions to print. Problems also appear to be worse with black print on white paper, incidentally the most common format.

Possible difficulties faced by a student with Irlen Syndrome at Salford University

  • Letters merging together
  • Letters appearing in the wrong order
  • Twirling letters
  • Words being fuzzy
  • Words jumping about
  • Difficulties in reading and keeping your place
  • Excessive rubbing and blinking of eyes
  • Words appearing as a jumbled puzzle
  • Words appearing faded

One in four people will have problems with their mental health at some time in their lives. Mental health difficulties can vary from short term temporary effects to long term conditions which could need medication or hospitalisation.

Possible difficulties faced within a University setting

Students are often subject to changes in lifestyle which can make them more susceptible to mental health difficulties. Changes such as displacement (leaving their home/family), isolation, stress and pressure from work and studies as well as financial difficulties can often cause students to experience difficulties.

These difficulties can then be heightened through a lack of established support (friends and family). Students already living with a Mental Health difficulties can experience difficulties trying to adapt to a new environment and routine.

At the University of Salford we encourage students to disclose any Mental Health difficulties in order to enable us to offer the best support we can. Students are entitled to support which will help them to access their course on an equal level to their peers.

If you have a mental health difficulties, contact the Disability & Learner Support to arrange an appointment with a Disability Adviser. If appropriate the Disability Adviser will produce a Reasonable Adjustment Plan which sets out the support you are entitled to from your tutors, school and University (medical evidence will be needed to verify that you are entitled to such support).

Examples of common mental health difficulties

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bi Polar Affective disorder

Common difficulties students who have mental health difficulties may experience 

  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Organisation
  • Perception
  • Memory
  • Concentration
  • Fatigue

Useful links

Definitions of Deafness

The RNID and the wider D/deaf community commonly use the following definitions to describe deafness:

Mild deafness

If you have mild deafness it can cause some difficulty following speech, mainly in noisy situations. The quietest sounds you can hear are 25 to 39 decibels.

Moderate deafness

People with moderate deafness may have difficulty following speech without a hearing aid, and find the quietest sounds they can hear are 40 to 69 decibels.

Severe deafness

People with severe deafness rely a lot on lipreading, even with a hearing aid, as the quietest sounds they can hear are 70 to 94 decibels. BSL may be their first or preferred language.

Profound deafness

The quietest sounds that profoundly deaf people can hear average 95 decibels or more. BSL may be their first or preferred language but some prefer to lipread.


According to the RNID...

  • There are 8,945,000 deaf and hard of hearing people over the age of 16  
  • There are 8,257,000 people with mild to moderate deafness over the age of 16  
  • There are 688,000 people with severe to profound deafness over the age of 16  

Some of the difficulties individuals may face in University settings

Students can contact Disability & Learner Support at any time during their course if they feel they need support or information relating to deafness.

Students will also be supported in applying for Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA). DSA helps provide funding for BSL interpreters, note takers, language support tutors, equipment and other support. For more information about DSA please contact us at

What if I am a deaf student (examples of support)

Useful links

A vast range of disabilities and conditions can result in mobility and physical difficulties, which may impact on access to learning. Some of the most common on-going or permanent conditions result from muscular and skeletal disabilities and from on-going medical conditions which affect mobility. Some disabilities may be more ‘seen’ or evident than others.

The following information and examples are general and may be more relevant to individuals with some disabilities and conditions than to others. The lists are not exhaustive.

Some examples of disabilities and conditions which can have an impact on mobility are: Back and neck problems, accidents or injury leading to long term disability, arthritis and any other condition affecting the joints, amputation, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, partial or total paralysis, cerebral palsy and head injury. Other conditions such as respiratory and cardiac diseases, epilepsy, diabetes, cancer and AIDS can all have an impact on co-ordination, dexterity, strength, speed and stamina.

It is important to note that the difficulties listed below will vary greatly from person to person, even if they have the same condition/disability. The effects can also vary from day to day.

Some of the difficulties individuals may face in University settings are

Getting to/from lectures, around campus and attendance

  • Travel to/from lectures and between lectures if they are far apart/have only a short time between each lecture
  • Periodic/regular difficulties related to a condition/disability which may affect attendance, punctuality or require the person to leave early
  • Requirement of regular hospital visits or treatment
  • Physical obstacles or barriers at some University locations 

Stamina (due to disability/effects of medication/pain)

  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Chronic weakness
  • Memory difficulties
  • Difficulties with studying for extended periods of time without rest/breaks/movement
  • Poor concentration levels and speed of processing information


  • Postural difficulties and seating arrangements
  • Amounts of time sitting/standing/writing
  • Difficulties with note-taking
  • Poor concentration levels and speed of processing information

Overall Wellbeing

Both mobility and physical difficulties, and regular or constant pain can impact on an individual’s overall sense of wellbeing. Some people may be affected at times by low-self esteem and self confidence, and motivational difficulties.

Useful links

For Library support click here to visit the accessibility pages