Making the Transition: working with disabled applicants to Higher Education

University of Sheffield English graduate and Disability Champion, Azariah JenneyThe University’s Disability and Dyslexia Support Team work with prospective applicants to HE who have a disability and continue to support them throughout their studies.  Gayle McKay, the University’s Disability Transition Officer, and her team of student Disability Champions visit schools and colleges to work with students in a variety of ways - such as arranging sessions with Champions; discussing support needs; helping with the Disabled Students’ Allowances application process.

Disabled university applicants are often unsure how disclosing additional support needs might impact on their application but it is important to be aware that applications will be considered against the set entry criteria for the course and information about a disability is not normally considered at this stage.  Universities can provide support to students with a wide variety of impairments from mental health difficulties such as depression to long-term health conditions such as Diabetes, and from specific learning difficulties like dyslexia to sensory impairments as well as those with autism spectrum conditions.

A recent English graduate and Disability Champion, Azariah Jenney, writes about her experience of being a University of Sheffield Disability Champion: “Going to university is a daunting experience for any student, without the added worries if you’re a student with a disability.  In my role as Disability Champion I have gone into local schools and colleges and attended outreach events at the University to speak about my support and demonstrate the assistive software that I have been given to help me.  I think students respond better and listen more to a fellow student and someone who has recently been in the same situation as them.  I want to encourage students to feel that having a disability is not a barrier to going to university. “

The DDSS has recruited a team of 30 Disability Champions who themselves access disabled student support.  If you would like visit the University with your students and meet some of our Disability Champions, please email

To find out more information about disability support, discuss support needs or to get help with the Disabled Students’ Allowances application process contact the University’s Disability Transition Officer, Gayle McKay or call 0114 222 1315