Equal Opportunities - Disability

Equal Opportunities - Disability

Introduction

St Catherine's College aims to provide an environment which both values and promotes diversity and equality of opportunity, encouraging all our staff and students to fulfil their potential. This approach includes all policies, procedures, practices and plans.

This section provides information about the specific ways in which we endeavour to make the College even more accessible to individuals with disabilities, and also provides a more general overview of legislation and our response to that legislation.

Legal Context

Discrimination on the grounds of disability is prohibited by the Equality Act 2010, both generally and in the following specific areas:

  • Employment
  • Access to services, premises and private clubs
  • Education

Disability is defined by the Equality Act as "a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-lasting effect on a person's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities". A "long-lasting effect" is one which is likely to last 12 months or more, or is likely to recur. "Normal day-to-day activities" might include physical activities such as mobility, physical coordination, memory or ability to learn, manual dexterity, or speech, hearing or eyesight.

Discrimination (all types), harassment and victimisation are all prohibited. In addition, it is illegal to discriminate for a disability-related reason.

Discrimination by association is also prohibited, and therefore the legislation extends the protection offered to cover people who are not themselves disabled but are associated with a disabled person. For example, it is illegal to discriminate against someone who is not themselves disabled but who is the carer of a disabled person.

Service providers are required to make "reasonable adjustments" to any aspect of the physical nature of their premises or to any "provision, criterion or practice" which places a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared with a non-disabled person. Examples of reasonable adjustments might include installing a wheelchair ramp to enable access to buildings, or providing additional support or equipment to enable a disabled person to undertake their duties (e.g. modified computer equipment). What count as "reasonable adjustments" are a matter of context and will depend on a range of factors.

The duty to make reasonable adjustments only applies to those who disabled; therefore, the College is not required to make adjustments for people who, for example, are carers of those with disabilities but who are not themselves disabled.

In addition to the above, the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 prohibits discrimination in relation to school admissions, exclusions, and the education or associated services provided to pupils. Higher education establishments must also provide auxiliary aids or services, and have a duty to make adjustments to physical features.

The College's Position

Under UK legislation, St Catherine’s College has a positive duty to promote equality of opportunity between disabled persons and other people, and to seek to eliminate unlawful disability discrimination and harassment. We are also required to promote positive attitudes towards disabled people, encourage participation by disabled people in public life within the College, and take steps to meet disabled people’s needs (even if this requires more favourable treatment).

The College works continuously to address areas of concern, to ensure that our existing policies, procedures and practices are reviewed, where possible with the involvement of disabled members of the College, and to identify any further areas which can be improved as part of this ongoing process. Through the Equality Committee and other mechanisms we aim to review and report on our progress in ensuring that students and staff experience a consistently inclusive and supportive environment to assist them in reaching their full potential.
We ask that staff, students and potential students tell us if they have a disability or long-term health condition to enable us to:

  • make any ‘reasonable adjustments’ that they may need in your work or study;
  • understand any difficulties they may have, and how we can help;
  • monitor whether processes such as staff recruitment are carried out fairly.

We welcome feedback at any time, as we endeavour to ensure that what we do is meaningful, focussed on the right priorities and will have a real impact on the experience of members of the College, visitors and other interested parties – with or without disabilities. We would therefore be pleased to receive any comments and suggestions, and these may be emailed (with "Equality - Disabilities" in the subject line) to the Home Bursar at bursar@stcatz.ox.ac.uk

In particular we are always interested to receive answers to the following questions:
1. What do we do well in terms of supporting students/ staff/ visitors with disabilities?
2. What policies, procedures or practices exist within the College that are barriers to disabled people?
3. Can you suggest how we can remove these barriers?

Support and Advice

Guidance on our personnel policy may be sought from the Personnel Advisor. Students may seek advice from the Academic Registrar.
The University DEO Unit provides a network of harassment advisers and is also responsible for updating the Code of Practice on Harassment.
The University offers training in best practice for those involved in the admissions process, recruitment and selection, management and teaching.

Further Information

The University website contains useful links to relevant legislation, as well as providing details of the ways in which the University has sought to fulfil its commitments to promoting disability equality.
The University has its own Disability Office, and University Disability Staff can provide staff and students with information and advice on a range of issues relating to disability. Specialist advice is available to students via the University Counselling Service, and to staff via the University Occupational Health Service.