Deaf Student Lodges Disability Discrimination Claim Against the London Metropolitan University

Since 1st September 2003, colleges of Further & Higher Education have been obliged by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) to supply auxiliary aids and services to disabled students.

John Savva is profoundly deaf. He started his undergraduate degree course in Sept 2005 with the help of a Disabled Students Allowance. He was assessed as needing British Sign Language interpreters at lectures and for group work, and a note-taker at all course related sessions. It was estimated that the standard Allowance would not be adequate by some £10,000, to pay for all his learning support needs.

The Disability Rights Commission’s Code of Practice for providers of post 16 Education envisages “instances when disabled students might need reasonable adjustments to be provided by the institution in addition to those resourced through their disabled students’ allowances”.

The University’s approach was to offer him a maximum, and insufficient, amount of £3,500 per year which they obtained through the Access to Learning Fund. This figure did not take into account his individual needs.

Mr Savva struggled to keep up with his studies, only half of his lectures were interpreted and he was provided with no notetakers. He may have to give up his course if he cannot get sufficient support to meet his needs.

Jocelyn Murphy of the Disability Law Service who is representing John Savva says –

“To my knowledge this is the first case to make use of the auxiliary services provision in the DDA and highlights the barriers deaf students have to undertaking and completing higher education courses”.