Sharing your disability information while studying
Most students with disability or health condition face the issue of whether to share (or disclose) their disability or health condition. This includes what, when, and how to share information about your disability or health condition and to whom. Information about disclosure rights and responsibilities is crucial in helping you to consider the most appropriate option and timing.
A web-based resource developed by the NDCO and Western Sydney University, Choosing Your Path – Disclosure: It’s a Personal Decision is a great resource to help you navigate disclosure. This website provides substantial information about options and pathways that you can consider in relation to disclosing your disability in post-secondary education and employment environments.
What is involved in disclosing your disability?
Whether you are a prospective student or a current student you can have a confidential discussion with a University Disability Adviser or TAFE Disability Adviser. You can start the conversation before you enrol.
Regardless of what education or training you are undertaking this discussion may include:
- what support services are available and what documentation you may need to provide (if you are a prospective student)
- whether or not you are likely to need reasonable adjustments or support services
- whether or not you will need to disclose in order to have adjustments put in place
- referral to other services that will aid your studies e.g., assistive technology, mentoring, workshops etc.
Pros and Cons of Disclosure
There can be benefits and disadvantages for you about the decision to disclose or not to disclose a disability.
- Pro: it can open up opportunities for you to receive the support and reasonable adjustments needed to succeed to the best of your ability.
- Con: there is the possibility of encountering lowered expectations and other prejudicial attitudes.
Privacy laws protect information about a person’s disability. Information about your disability cannot be shared with others within the institution without your consent, except in extreme circumstances. Adjustments and support are arranged without details of your disability being shared with lecturers, tutors or other students, and is treated with strictest confidentiality.
Remember, where you haven't shared your disability, teaching and other staff are not responsible for providing education related adjustments or other accommodations.
What does the DDA say about disclosure of disability?
The Disability Discrimination Act and the Disability Standards for Education do not contain any provisions directly on disclosure of disability. The Guidance Notes issued in association with the Disability Standards for Education however do state:
Any confidential information provided to education providers for the purposes of making reasonable adjustments should not be disclosed except for the purposes of the adjustment or in accordance with a lawful requirement.
What if I experience discrimination?
It is important to understand that it is unlawful for education providers, and others, to discriminate against a person because of disability, under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Commonwealth). You can find more information about this on our disability and discrimination pages.