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Policy on Disability Discrimination

The Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology seeks to comply in all respects with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, in particular by complying with all policies and guidance documents issued by the University relating to disability discrimination. In particular,

  • The University of Cambridge HEFCE Disability Statement 2000
  • The University of Cambridge Disability and Employment Policy, issued by the Personnel Department
  • The Guidelines on Disability Awareness in Learning, Teaching and Assessment issued by the General Board
  • The various guidance documents issued by the Disability Resource Centre.

The Department will appoint a Disability Liaison Officer, who will be responsible for managing disability issues within the Department. The DLO will be encouraged to pursue appropriate training.

What is a Disability?

A disability is any physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term (lasting over 12 months) adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

Provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)

The University has two main duties under the DDA

  • Not to treat disabled persons less favourably than non-disabled people for reasons related to their disability without justification;
  • To make reasonable adjustments so that a disabled person is not placed at a substantial disadvantage by comparison with an individual without a disability.


All staff and students will be invited to disclose disabilities. This invitation will be made in writing, and will be repeated at regular intervals. The Department will strive to create an atmosphere which is positive and supportive in respect of any such disclosure. Disclosed information will be forwarded only with the permission of the disabled person and only on a ‘need to know’ basis. Otherwise disclosed information will be kept strictly confidential.

Anticipatory Adjustments

The DDA places responsibility on the University to anticipate adjustments that may be required for future students or applicants. The Department will consider disability issues when planning future ventures. The Department will consider any adjustments that can be made when undertaking refurbishment or building projects.

Course Materials

All teaching staff should consider how material might be presented in a way accessible to a wider audience, for example

  • Adoption of a sans serif font of at least 12-point size in all literature, including lecture handouts.
  • Availability of lecture handouts, upon request, in a variety of formats (e.g. large print, on-line or Braille)
  • Ensuring that web-based materials can be accessed by those using assistive technology (e.g. screen reading software).
  • Making reading lists available in advance so there is time to make suitable arrangements for alternative media.


The Board of Examinations has established procedures for making adjustments to examinations on the basis of illness or disability. Such applications must be submitted by the student’s Tutor to the Secretary to the Board of Examinations. Examples include,

  • Allocation of extra time and rest breaks;
  • Use of a computer;
  • Provision of examination papers in large print.

The Board of Examinations is responsible for notifying the Chairman of Examiners of candidates who have been permitted to take examinations under special conditions. The Chairman of Examiners should contact the Secretary to the Board of Examinations if any queries arise regarding assessment under special conditions.

Health and Safety

Health and safety considerations override disability rights considerations, and safety might be a justifiable reason for treating a disabled person differently. However, it is important that a risk assessment be carried out so that an objective assessment can be made of the situation. The Department recognises that a disabled person is entitled to accept the same level of risk as an able-bodied person, providing the risks presented to other persons are acceptable.

Maintenance of Academic and Professional Standards

All reasonable efforts will be made to provide equivalent academic and professional training to disabled persons. However, the Department cannot compromise academic or professional standards in order to adjust for disabilities.

Literature for the General Public

All documents produced for the ‘general public’ (that is, for those who are not yet staff or students of the Department) should carry the following wording (or similar).

“This document is available in Braille or larger print upon request”.

Such documents should also be produced using a sans serif font of at least 12-point size.