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Advance HE has updated its recommended question and response options for disability status to better reflect both legal developments and the social model of disability. This updated wording is compatible with HESA requirements.

We recommend including additional explanation for this question, such as

Under the Equality Act 2010, a person is considered to have a disability 'if they have a physical or mental impairment, and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’. ‘Substantial' is defined by the Act as 'more than minor or trivial'. An impairment is considered to have a long term effect if:

  • it has lasted for at least 12 months
  • it is likely to last for at least 12 months, or
  • it is likely to last for the rest of the life of the person.

Normal day-to-day activities are not defined in the Act, but in general they are things people do on a regular or daily basis, for example eating, washing, walking, reading, writing or having a conversation.  Only serious visual impairments are covered by the Equality Act 2010. For example, a person whose eyesight can be corrected through the use of prescription lenses is not covered by the Act; neither is an inability to distinguish between red and green. The same logic does not apply to hearing aids. If someone needs to wear a hearing aid, then they are likely to be covered by the Act. However, both hearing and visual impairments have to have a substantial adverse effect on the ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities in order for a person to be covered by the Act.

Do you have an impairment, health condition or learning difference that has a substantial or long term impact on your ability to carry out day to day activities? (tick all that apply)

  • No known impairment, health condition or learning difference
  • A long standing illness or health condition such as cancer, HIV, diabetes, chronic heart disease, or epilepsy
  • A mental health difficulty, such as depression, schizophrenia or anxiety disorder
  • A physical impairment or mobility issues, such as difficulty using your arms or using a wheelchair or crutches
  • A social/communication impairment such as a speech and language impairment or Asperger’s syndrome/other autistic spectrum disorder
  • A specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia, dyspraxia or AD(H)D
  • Blind or have a visual impairment uncorrected by glasses
  • D/deaf or have a hearing impairment
  • An impairment, health condition or learning difference that is not listed above (specify if you wish)
  • Prefer not to say

The use of 'D/deaf' incorporates those who identify as audiologically deaf and those who are deaf and identify as part of a social and cultural community of deaf people.

In Scotland, institutions and colleges have a responsibility under the British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015 to improve services for BSL users. Therefore Advance HE recommends a follow up question for those who identify as D/deaf or have a hearing impairment:

Are you a BSL user?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Prefer not to say

The HESA record classifies those with multiple impairments as ‘two or more impairments and/or disabling medical conditions’.

This approach results in a loss of information regarding the nature of the impairments. We recommend institutions allow people to select more than one impairment category in a list.

This question could be supported by further questions around providing reasonable adjustments, for example:

To help your employer/HEI/college ensure appropriate support and/or adjustments are in place, please explain in the box provided below if you will need any facilities or support relating to your impairment, health condition or learning difference. This might for example include particular adjustments such as materials in accessible formats, or extra equipment.