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The University of Southampton
Careers and Employability ServiceStudents

Disability, SpLD & Long-Term Health Conditions

If you have a disability, SpLD or long-term health condition (including mental health) there is lots of help and advice available to support you in your job search.

Defining disability

The government defines disability in the following terms:

"You're disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a 'substantial' and 'long-term' negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities."

As a guide, ‘substantial’ and 'long-term' mean:

  • ‘Substantial’ is more than minor or trivial - e.g. it takes much longer than it usually would to complete a daily task like getting dressed
  • ‘Long-term’ means 12 months or more - e.g. a breathing condition that develops as a result of a lung infection

There are special rules about recurring or fluctuating conditions, for example, arthritis and some mental health conditions. See the above site or talk to Enabling Services for further guidance.

Use the tabs below for specific advice and information. If you would like more personal help please see the Support Services tab.

The Careers and Employability Service offers a workshop for students with a disability, specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia or dyspraxia, or long-term health condition. This workshop explores disclosure and support in the graduate recruitment process and in the workplace.

It covers:

  • an overview of the Equality Act 2010
  • your rights as an applicant or employee
  • whether and when to disclose your disability and how to present it positively
  • You will also have the opportunity to discuss concerns and ask questions

Due to the current circumstances we are unable to host our workshop in person so we will be hosting some via webinars and have also created a Panopto version which you can view below. Please check the MyCareer Events Calendar for upcoming webinar dates.  If you need any further support please contact to book a phone or video appointment with an adviser.

You can also find our Disability and Employability toolkit in the Useful Downloads section at the bottom of the page.

Useful Downloads

Need the software?PDF Reader

Students who have declared a health condition, specific learning difficulty or a disability to the University have access to additional support services as details below:

 University services:

  • Careers Service - offers a range of personal support, workshops and work experience/volunteering to help with your career development, including 'Disability, Disclosure and Employability' workshops
  • Enabling Services - offers a range of services to students with disabilities, including Drop-in, Wednesday workshops and personal support
  • Assistive Technology Centre - provides assistive technology for anyone who may need assistance to gain more equal access to the academic curriculum 
  • Neurodiversity and Disability Society (SUSU Society) - A society aimed at students who identify as neurodivergent or disabled, those who are self-diagnosed or unsure, and anyone else who would like to learn more about neurodiversity and disability topics.


External services:

  • Other support agencies are listed in the Web and Video Resources tab above



The details in this section relate to our Careers Fairs at Highfield Campus. Our next Careers Fair is our Virtual Careers Exchange, taking place in October. This fair is taking place online so the wristband information below will not apply, however, if you have any questions about additional support at our virtual fair or require any adjustments that you think might be helpful, please email and we will try and facilitate where possible.

Students at the Careers Fair
Students at the Careers Fair

As we know our Careers Fairs are often busy we have implemented a wristband system which students with a disability, SpLD or long-term health condition may benefit from.

You can collect a wristband prior to the Fair which can be shown on the day to enable you to join the front of the queue, so that you can make the most of the Fair before it gets busy.

  • You can come at any point during the opening times of the fair and you will not need to queue.
  • If you wish, you will also be able to make use of a room at the Jubilee Sports Centre, throughout the day, to read through the Fair brochure and research information about the companies attending.

You can also opt to collect a wristband for a friend so you can visit the Fair together if you wish. Printed copies of the fair brochures will be available to collect from the Careers Centre a few days prior to the event.

Should you disclose your disability and if so at what stage in the recruitment process should you do it?

Disclosure is always a personal choice and there is no obligation in most circumstances to disclose. There can be advantages to disclosure and many employers encourage a culture of openness to build realtionships of trust and empowerment with their staff and applicants. A growing number of employers work with organisations such as 'MyPlus Students' Club' and 'Employ-ability' to improve their diversity practice.

Making a choice about what and when to disclose gives you control over the way your disability is presented and enables you to take advantage of your rights to receive 'reasonable adjustments' both in the recruitment process and once in work. A simple example of reasonable adjustments would be extra time for psychometric tests. Further examples can be found on this link: Scope.

You can talk to Careers staff to help you decide what is right for you through Drop-in and relevant workshops. You may also find the points below helpful:

Reasons for disclosure:

  • Many employers have excellent equal opportunities policies demonstrating commitment to non-prejudicial recruitment and employment procedures. Find out as much as you can about the organisation and their recruitment policies.
  • Some employers have made a commitment to employing people with disabilities and may demonstrate this with the 'Positive about disabled people' two tick symbol.
  • If you will need special arrangements at the interview, assessment centre or psychometric tests you will need to declare your disability at the application stage.
  • You could be eligible for support when starting employment through the Access to Work scheme. Pointing this out to your employer could help to alleviate any fears that they might have about the financial implications of employing you.
  • If your disability has any implications for the health and safety of yourself or work colleagues then you are obliged to inform your employer.

Arguments against disclosure:

  • You may fear that employers will discriminate against you; the Equality Act provides safeguards against this.
  • In a competitive job market you may feel that an employer might focus on the disability rather than your ability.
  • You may not want to discuss your disability with anyone or be labelled by it.
  • You may feel that your disability has no effect on your ability to do the job.

When to disclose:

  • Some application forms ask direct questions about disability so you can give all the necessary details at this stage. Making a positive statement may well alleviate any doubts that a prospective employer might have. You might prefer to disclose information in a covering letter to give yourself the opportunity to emphasise your positive achievements. See our example cover letter on disclosing a disability.
  • Medical questionnaires will ask about disability and you must answer honestly. However, under the Equality Act, an employer cannot ask a prospective employee about their health prior to making them an offer of employment.
  • If you are invited to attend for an interview and need practical support such as a communicator or psychometric tests in a different format then you should inform the employer in advance. It could also be appropriate for you to be given extra time to complete assessment activities or psychometric tests.
  • If you disclose your disability at interview you should do so in a positive way. It may be easier to put any relevant information on paper in advance rather than handling it in a face-to-face situation.

Positive Marketing

Do not assume that an employer will have a negative attitude towards employing a person with a disability. If you make a positive statement about your disability you will control how it is perceived. Try to emphasise achievements and give examples of skills that you may have developed as a result of your disability, such as flexibility, determination, the ability to perform under pressure and creative problem solving. You do not need to ‘sell’ your disability but think about how your experiences and skills as a disabled person are selling points and may give you an edge over other candidates.

Top Tips in making a positive statement about your disability:

  • Focus on your strengths, experience and skills and keep control of the situation. Do not let your disability dominate your application.
  • Emphasise the different perspective that you can offer the organisation.
  • Acknowledge any difficulties that you have had and highlight the ways that you have overcome them that demonstrates your maturity and determination to succeed.

Examples of strengths and skills

  • Have creative ability in a particular field
  • Possess strong reasoning powers and lateral thinking ability and are good at seeing the bigger picture.
  • Have developed strong IT skills and are familiar with a wide variety of software.
  • Have developed a range of strategies to handle information and prioritise workload.
  • Have good organisational and problem-solving skills.
  • Are self-reliant and can work independently.
  • Have developed an awareness of the different problems that other people face.
  • Have a positive attitude and show commitment to success.

Examples of positive statements

"Because of my hearing loss I have developed excellent levels of concentration. This is demonstrated in my ability to analyse spread sheets and make performance related forecasts."

"I have Cerebral Palsy which effects my speech. My communication has a few problems which I have learnt to work around by using different words or by writing them down on a note pad. Over time people get tuned in to the way that I speak. I am aware of the problems that other people can face and I usually think of ways to overcome or help to alleviate these."

"Due to my disability I am very independent, a good organiser and I always put 100% into the task that I am given. I am a quick thinker and a strong team player. During my time at university I have had a volunteer assistant to take my notes and do other tasks e.g. helping in the library etc. I manage their time and pay them."

"Because I am dyslexic I have developed a range of strategies in the collection and processing of information and in structuring my work. In addition I make full use of a variety of computer software to assist my written work."


Video Resources:

The following videos from 'Get that Job: a guide for disabled graduates' (AGCAS) offer information and advice for students with a disability. Click below to log into Blackboard and access the resources.

Additional Web Resources:

 Below are some additional resources for students with specific learning difficulties or disabilities.

Action on Hearing Loss

Action on Hearing Loss (the new name for The Royal National Institute for Deaf People) has employment advisers and offers information and support on various issues, including communication and support, CV and interview preparation.

BBC Extend Scheme

BBC-wide work placement scheme that offers appropriately experienced and/or qualified disabled people an opportunity to gain six months paid work experience within the BBC.

Blind in Business

A UK charity providing IT, technology training and teaching resources to help visually impaired and blind people. Blind in Business supports students with practical training and employment services to find graduate jobs.

British Dyslexia Association (BDA)

Provides information, advice and support to adults with dyslexia looking for and in employment, including suggestions for reasonable adjustments.

The British Association for Supported Employment (BASE)

Supported Employment is a model for supporting people with significant disabilities to secure and retain paid employment. The model uses a partnership strategy to enable people with disabilities to achieve sustainable long-term employment and businesses to employ valuable workers. BASE represents agencies involved in securing employment for people with disabilities. These member organisations can give advice and support throughout the process of looking for and gaining a job.

British Stammering Association

Provides information and support on stammering, including a closed Facebook page for members. Also provides related services to employers.

Change 100

Offers 3-month paid internships for disabled students and graduates with top employers in the UK

Civil Service Fast Stream Summer Diversity Internship Programme

The Summer Internship Programme runs across July and August. It is open to undergraduates and graduates with disabilities with the aim of introducing trainees to work in the UK civil service, in a range of government departments.

Disability Rights UK

Disability Rights UK is a national registered charity which works to relieve the poverty and improve the living standards of disabled people. They offer advice and support in relation to employment issues.


A not-for-profit organisation dedicated to assisting students and graduates with all disabilities, including dyslexia or long-term health conditions, into employment. They run a range of programmes for large international and UK employers, including internships and graduate recruitment, to match talented students to disability inclusive employers. Their team offers free support, advice and guidance to students and graduates throughout the entire recruitment process.

Employ Me

This specialist programme run by Mencap supports people with a learning disability to gain skills and undertake practical learning opportunities in order to enable them to find paid work and a more independent lifestyle. Employ Me also supports companies and organisations to recruit people with a learning disability.


Kaleidoscope Recruitment

A recruitment agency specialising in recruiting and supporting people with disabilities

MyPlus students' club

Provides advice, support and tools to help students' access work and graduate jobs, and has links with major employers

The National Autistic Society – Employment Services

The service offers specialist training and support for people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in getting a job and within employment. It also helps employers with the recruitment, training and retention of staff with an ASD.



Remploy supports disabled people towards work through iRemploy - a suite of on-line employment services for disabled people or those with a health condition. They offer advice on the job search process, applications and CV building and interview skills and provide tools to assess skills.

Royal National Association for Deaf People (RAD)

RAD offers an employment service in London and Essex and an email service. The website advertises job vacancies within the deaf community.


Provides information and support for blind and partially sighted people on finding and retaining a job, including mentoring.


Supports people in gaining and sustaining employment in large corporations, public sector bodies and local employers. They offer training and support programmes.


Stack Recruitment

A recruitment agency specialising in recruiting and supporting those on the Autistic spectrum


TARGETjobs - Graduate publisher and website

Produce a range of student and graduate guides. There is a comprehensive section on Diversity on the website including a section on Disability and Mental health:


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