Disability Awareness

Get the support you need during your time at university.

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Disability awareness - here to empower YOU. Pictures a boy on wheelchair playing basketball

Disability Awareness  

As of 2021, there are 14.1 million disabled people in the UK. Disabilities come in many different forms that are unfortunately commonly stigmatized. Many people who use mobility aids (wheelchairs, crutches etc.) are not actually completely unable to walk but walking is still very difficult for them. Many disabilities are hidden and can go undiagnosed for years. OCD is more than being very tidy, ADHD is more than getting distracted all the time, autism does not make someone a savant.  


Disability at Heriot-Watt 

Disabled Students Society 

Why not join our Disabled Students Society? We are here to make sure you get the support you need during your time at university. But that’s not all! We also have lots of socials, game nights, chill chats and more! If you’d like to join or just want to find out more, contact us at disabledstudents.society@hw.ac.uk - or you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Discord! 

Disability Services 

The University Disability Services are here to provide the support you need in your academic life – from reasonable adjustments to extra equipment, they’ve got you covered! They can also provide screening for disabilities such as dyslexia. 

Sports Union 

The Buddy System is run between the Disability Services and the Sports Union. You can sign up via your Disability Adviser and they will pair you up with a Sports Union Ambassador from the Club of your choice! The Ambassador will answer any question you might have and chum you to your first few practices – you can also just go to the gym with them! 

Advice Hub 

The Advice Hub gives independent, confidential and impartial advice and support. If you need help with mitigating circumstances forms, have any questions about life on and off campus or just need a chat, our Student Advisers are the people for you! 

Support for carers 

A carer is anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support. Whether you are officially recognised or not, you can disclose your status to the Wellbeing Services to receive extra support. Check the dedicated University webpage for details on the type of support available. You can also join our Parents and Carers network on Facebook to stay up to date with any events and find other students in a similar situation! 


Disabled people 

In Art 

Frieda Kahlo (1907-1954), painter 

JC Sheitan Tenet, tattoo artist 

Stephen Wiltshire (1974-), architectural artist 

In Cinema 

Jessica Alba (1981-), actress 

Millie Bobby Brown (2004-), actress 

Alex Brooker (1984-), journalist, television presenter, comedian 

Nyle DiMarco (1989-), actor and model 

Adam Hills (1970-), comedian and radio and television presenter 

Daniel Radcliffe (1989-), actor 

Josh Widdicombe (1983-), comedian and radio and television presenter 

Robin Williams (1951-2014), actor 

In Music 

Rick Allen (1963-), drummer 

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), composer 

Billie Eilish (2018-), singer 

Itzhak Perlman (1945-), violinist 

Stevie Wonder (1950-), singer and composer 

In Science 

Farida Bedwei (1979-), software engineer 

Thomas Edison (1847-1931), inventor 

Stephen Hawkins (1942-2018), theoretical physicist 

In Politics 

Tanni Grey-Thompson (1969-), former athlete and Member of the House of Lords 
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), 32nd US President 

Greta Thunberg (2003-), environmental activist 

In Sports 

Simon Jackson (1972-), judoka and Olympic Gold medalist 

Jason Lester (1974-), endurance athlete 

Alana Nichols (1983-), Paralympic wheelchair basketball player 


Disability Q&A 

I haven’t disclosed any disability to the University, should I? And if yes, how do I go about it? 

By disclosing a disability to the University Disability Services, you will be able to receive the support and reasonable adjustments you need to make the best of your time at uni. You can either book an appointment with the Wellbeing Services or email disability@hw.ac.uk! The information you disclose is confidential and will only be discussed with your lecturers if you agree to it. 

I think I might have... (insert disability here). What do I do? 

You can either book an appointment with the Disability Services or go to your GP! They will be able to help you and refer you to any screening tests you might need. If you think you might be entitled to extra support, reach out for it as soon as you can to make sure all the measures you need can be rolled out well in time for exams! 

Is Edinburgh mobility-friendly? 

Edinburgh has a great public transport system but unfortunately many issues are still around in the Old Town side of it as there are a lot of cobbles and hills which many wheelchair users and users of other mobility aids find difficult.  Fortunately, the most popular places in Edinburgh are around Princes Street which is a lot smoother.  

What is the difference between a mitigating circumstance and a reasonable adjustment? 

Reasonable adjustments are the measures put in place to make sure you get the support you need. The most common ones include getting lecture notes in advance, extra time during exams, and software such as speech to text. Mitigating circumstances cover exceptional instances, like a bad flare-up of an illness or your internet going down just before a submission deadline. 

What disabilities do the Disability Services cover? 

All of them! The Disability Services are here to support you to make sure you have the best time at university no matter what! 


Links to other organisations! 

There are loads of charities and organisations you can turn to for extra support. We’ve listed a few here to help during your time at uni and beyond. 

Government support 

Citizens Advice Bureau 

Government Benefits Calculator 

List of Disability Confident Employers 

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) 

Advice for Carers 

Grants. Bursaries and scholarships 

Disability Grants UK 

The Independent Living Fund Scotland 

The Snowdon Trust 

Mental Health Support 

The Blide Trust (Orkney) 


Scottish Mental Health Association (SAMH) 

Practical Support 

Barnardo’s Scotland 

Move On (provides financial and debt management advice) 

Social/Personal development 

Enable Scotland 


Move On (specialises in supporting homeless young people) 

Princes Trust  

Venture Scotland  

For Carers 

Carers UK 

Edinburgh Young Carers 

NHS Lothian Carer support team 


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