Disability is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. The UK Disabled People’s Council states ‘disability is the disadvantage or restriction of activity caused by a contemporary social organisation which takes little or no account of people who have impairments and thus excludes them from the mainstream of social activities.’

In the 2011-2012 Diversity Survey there was a high disclosure of disabilities, long-term health conditions and impairments. 12 per cent of non-student and student staff respondents reported that they have a long-term health condition, impairment or disability. For elected officers, the figure was 24 per cent.

What NUS is doing to promote disability equality

Disabled Students Allowance: The government are reviewing Disabled Student Allowance and as part of this there is a risk that they change the way that it is provided to students that may have detrimental consequences. We will be feeding in to the consultation for the review and preparing a campaign based on the outcome of this.

Mental Health: We will be challenging the way that the student movement campaign around mental health; actively looking at the ways that we can create lasting change rather than just raising awareness. We will be working with unions to look at how they can increase the capacity of your support services, fighting against cuts to local provisions and looking at the best way policy can support students. As part of the mental health work we do we will be bringing together people from the mental health sector to discussion the way forward for student mental health.

Anti-Cuts: Throughout the year we will be working with Disabled Anti-Cuts groups in their campaigns against the government’s assaults on disabled people. This campaigns will be varied, exciting and all over the place! We will be encouraging students unions to hold events and campaigns on their own campuses such as the closure of counselling services or the removal of ATOS (the horrible IT company ‘testing’ peoples disabilities and removing people from benefits) from your campuses. We will have a big presence at the TUC Save Our NHS demo on 29 September in Manchester outside the Tory party conference.

Action on Hearing Loss (formerly RNID)

Charity working for a world where hearing loss doesn’t limit or label people. Offers support, research, training and communication tools to break down barriers.

Anticipating reasonable adjustments: equality and diversity training pack 

This pack has been developed by the Equality Challenge Unit for HE institutions. The materials can also inform the work of students’ unions and will help staff providing services to anticipate and remove disabling barriers and provide an inclusive service for all staff and students.

British Dyslexia Association (BDA) 

Provides assessments, learning support, training and guidance to individuals, parents, teachers and employers to ensure that people who experience dyslexia can achieve their full potential.

Business Disability Forum 

Provides members with support by sharing expertise, advice, training and networking opportunities. Their Disability Standard is a tool to help organisations to become disability-smart. The briefings, toolkits and line manager guides cover every aspect of bringing organisations and disabled people together from recruitment and retention to reasonable adjustments and Disabled Employee Networks.

Disability equality guidance

The Equality and Human Rights Commission provides a range of guidance to support disability equality on areas such as: guidance and good practice when employing disabled people, guidance for service providers on accessibility and reasonable adjustments and disability rights publications.

Disability Rights UK 

Works to mobilise disabled people’s leadership and independence, improve equality and human rights and break the link between disability and poverty.

Disability services: supporting international students

Equality Challenge Unit resource helping staff in disability services to support international students.

Evidencing equality: approaches to increasing disclosure and take-up of disabled students’ allowance 

This guidance from the Equality Challenge Unit aims to raise awareness of the approaches higher education institutions can take to increase the level of disability disclosure and take-up of disabled students' allowance (DSA).

Life, not numbers: A report into the experiences of disabled students in higher education using personal care packages (2010)

This report focuses on students using personal care packages, exploring their experiences in choosing an institution and managing the transition in to higher education. The differences between those who choose to attend institutions in their home area and those who move away are also explored.

Mental Health Toolkit

The NUS Disabled Students’ Campaign and the NUS Welfare Campaign have developed a toolkit offering tips and guidance on how you can campaign on Mental Health issues that may be affecting students in your institution.


Works to improve mental health and related support, care and social equality. Mind also provides advice, information and training.

National Text Relay Service – voice-to-text

Connects textphone / minicom users with telephone users instantly with a translator, reducing barriers to access for Deaf people and people affected by hearing loss or speech difficulties.

NUS Time to Change Toolkit

This resource has been produced by NUS in conjunction with Time to Change and aims to equip students' unions to understand how they and their institutions can use the Time to Change pledge as a springboard to developing work around student and staff mental health.

Pre-employment health questions - Guidance for employers on Section 60 of the Equality Act 2010 - ECU Guidance


Promoting inclusion and equality for disabled people through improved employment opportunities. Offers services to help employers recruit and retain disabled staff.

RNIB (Royal National Institute for Blind People)

Support, research and campaign work charity to advance equality for the two million people with sight loss in the UK. Offers training and advice on products and technology to enable blind and partially sighted people.


Charity offering services to disabled people and their families. Scope campaigns for equality and provides an employment service helping employers to recruit and support disabled staff.

Time to Change – Mental Health

Campaign to tackle stigma and end mental health discrimination, with useful online resources and thought provoking films.