Before you can practise in one of the professions we regulate, you will need to complete a programme which we have approved. A full list of the programmes we approve is available on our website. You can find more information about admissions requirements for particular programmes by visiting the education provider’s website or by contacting them direct.
Disclosing information about your disability to an education provider
When applying to an education programme, you will have the opportunity to tell the provider about your disability. Education providers have a responsibility to give you various opportunities to tell them this information in a safe and confidential way, but it is your decision whether you do so. We strongly recommend that you do.
An education provider can only act on the information they know about. If you do not tell them that you have a disability, they will be unable to make an informed decision about your ability to complete the programme and may not be able to provide you with the support and adjustments you may need.
Telling the education provider about your disability will also mean that they will be able to consider whether they need to make any adjustments to the selection process for the programme.
When telling an education provider about your disability, you can choose whether or not to give them permission to tell anyone else – this is known as ‘permission to disclose’. If you do give them this permission, they will be able to share information about your needs with people you name, for example, staff on practice placements. This will make sure that you get the support you need at all stages of your programme. This is important because, sometimes, putting the most effective adjustments in place, for example at practice placements, can take some time, so being open about your disability at an early stage can help make sure that plans can be made to put these adjustments in place as soon as possible.
Some people may not want to disclose their disability because they are worried about possible discrimination. However, education providers have specific legal responsibilities not to discriminate against disabled applicants.
If you would like more information about your education provider’s duties, you can ask to see their disability or equality and diversity policy and speak to their disability service (if they have one).
Student case study
“I chose to disclose that I have chronic fatigue syndrome during the admissions process because, like with anything else, help is only available if you ask for it. Based on my disclosure and subsequent meetings with the disability support tutor, I have received helpful and supportive advice and strategies for coping. Ultimately, help can’t be provided if people don’t know that it’s needed. It’s up to you to decide who you want to tell, and I have found that the best thing to do is get to know people so you can determine who you want to tell so that they can support you. It’s important that you’re not afraid to admit that you may need help, because it’s there for a reason.”
Skills and knowledge
It is up to education providers to make sure that their programme is managed and delivered in a way that means students completing it meet our standards of proficiency. These are the professional standards of entry to a profession that students completing an approved programme must be able to meet. As mentioned in the introduction, there is often more than one way to meet the standards of proficiency, and this may include education providers and practice placement providers making certain adjustments.
When applying to an approved programme, as part of assessing your application the education provider will decide whether any of the standards are likely to cause you difficulties and consider whether they can deliver the programme in a way that helps you meet these standards. This will include considering any reasonable adjustments that can be made. At this stage, education providers are likely to contact you for more information about your disability. This may involve inviting you to take an occupational health assessment (see page 34 for more information about occupational health assessments).
We are aware that people sometimes have misconceptions about certain disabilities in relation to particular professions. However, we do not publish a list of disabilities that will restrict your entry to the professions we regulate. We want to make sure that any decisions you and education providers make are about your ability to meet our standards and not based on assumptions about disabilities. Education providers should only turn down applications that would otherwise receive an offer if they are unable to put adjustments in place that would allow a disabled applicant to meet our standards of proficiency.
A person who uses a wheelchair is interested in becoming a radiographer. Her friends have told her that she may be unable to do so because she would not be able to get up the stairs to different wards. However, being able to get up and down stairs is not one of the standards of proficiency for radiographers. While this person may need reasonable adjustments in a study or work environment, being unable to use stairs would not prevent her from meeting the professional standards for entry into radiography.
Student case study
“I have spina bifida which means that I use crutches, have restricted physical ability and catheterise. My journey to becoming a speech and language therapist began in sixth form where I spoke to form tutors and careers advisors about what kind of professions would be open to me. They were very helpful and encouraging and provided me with lots of information. I also took time to do research of my own about the different professions in relation to my interests and abilities. I also contacted course administrators at universities to learn more about the programmes and their environments. I made sure I was honest with people about my abilities and the support I would need to make sure it was going to work for me and be accessible. This meant that by the time I was offered a place at the university I was excited and ready to go.”
Sometimes, a person’s disability may prevent them from training in the profession they want to work in. If this is the case for you, this will be because there are no reasonable adjustments an education provider could put in place that would make it possible for you to meet the standards of proficiency for the relevant profession.
However, it is important to remember that, while you may not be able to meet the standards of proficiency for one particular profession, you may still be able to meet those for another. For example, restricted mobility may prevent you from entering a profession that involves a lot of physical activity, but it is unlikely to prevent you from entering a profession which does not. You may also be able to work in a related role in health and care that we do not regulate, for example, as a health or social care support worker.
When you apply to an education and training programme, you are entitled to have your application assessed fairly and in a way that meets relevant laws.
If you think that you have been unfairly denied a place because of your disability, you can take action. First you should contact the education provider and follow their internal complaints process.
To take further action, you can contact the Equality and Human Rights Commission or the
Equality Commission for Northern Ireland who are responsible for enforcing equality and non-discrimination laws and will be able to tell you about your options. The contact details for these organisations, and a number of other useful organisations, are provided on our website.