HE/Public Sector Update: Addressing Autism, Dyslexia, and Neurodivergence in education and work

We live in a neurodiverse population, which consists of both neurodivergent and neurotypical individuals.

In this webinar, we heard from UK university practitioners about their approach to making accessibility improvements for students and staff with neurodivergent conditions including Autism, Asperger's, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Tourette Syndrome and Synaesthesia

About the panellists

Rob Howe and Jennie Dettmer

On the webinar, we were joined by:

  • Rob Howe, Head of Learning Technology at The University of Northampton
  • Jennie Dettmer, Acting Senior Professional and Academic Development Tutor at the University of Bedfordshire

Rob and Jennie (pictured above) shared and explained the findings of a recent session they ran for students with neurodivergent needs, particularly focused on the impact of Covid and the students' experiences at their different institutions.

Teresa Loftus, standing smiling in conservatory

AbilityNet's Teresa Loftus (pictured, above) also discussed the Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs) support available for neurodivergent students. She highlighted the issues some disabled people may face in the transition from education to work, including reasonable adjustments that may need to be provided, and how AbilityNet can help employers through its eLearning tools.

AbilityNet's Education and Workplace Relationship Manager, Helen Wickes, also provided a refresher about accessibility in the public sector.

Spread awareness about neurodivergence throughout your organisation!

Learn how to overcome neurodiversity barriers and the steps to avoid creating these barriers in our upcoming neurodiversity awareness training.

Learn more about our training course

Webinar FAQs

A recording, transcript, slide deck and useful links can be found at the bottom of this webpage. During the 1 hour webinar, we had time for Q&As, and although most were answered live, our speakers will be providing answers to those that did not get answered and will be featured below soon.  

Find out more about AbilityNet webinars in our webinars FAQs.


During the 1 hour webinar, the panel were able to answer many questions from attendees during the live session, which you can find by watching the webinar playback or accessing the transcript. Here are some additional questions we weren't able to answer at the time:

Q: Do application forms give space for declaring needs without a formal diagnosis? It can take several years to get an ADHD or ASD diagnosis for example

Teresa: GOV.UK provides advice about eligibility for DSA funding, and the proof required.

You may also find it helpful to speak with your Disability Advisors at university to see what support can be provided too. 

With regards to Access To Work I’ve provided the GOV.UK link regarding eligibility.

Q: Do you find the workplace assessments are taken seriously by employers?

Teresa: We have a number of contracts to deliver workplace assessments, and these provide advice that range from ergonomic solutions, assistive technology, training and practical information. 

Our assessments can help in various situations, such as:

  • employees asking for Reasonable Adjustments to accommodate their needs
  • staff returning to work after illness or accident
  • dealing with issues such as dyselxia and RSI which are affecting performance.

You can find out more about workplace assessments on our website.  
You can also find some workplace case studies on our website.

Q: What kinds of places can students look to prepare for the transition from university to the workplace? I definitely found the transition very daunting and lost access to uni supports that weren't then picked up through Access To Work.

Teresa: GOV.UK provides advice with regards to Access To Work.

You may also want to learn more about adapting your workplace computer too. We have a free tool called My Computer My Way that provide guides on how to adjust your computer or mobile device. 

Q: We are having issues around intellectual property and permission of lecturers to allow students to record. Any advice on how to approach this?

Teresa: Under the Equality Act 2010, education and training providers and other related services have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people so they are not placed at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled students.
A DSA assessor might recommend recording software/devices, but it is up to the University as to whether this is a viable solution and students should ask what the policy is before recording and ask permission.
The following article by Jisc on Recording lectures: legal considerations may be of use.  

Q: What do you recommend about adapting the environment for people who have issues related to sensory processing?

Teresa: AbilityNet has a range of resources that may help including our factsheets, resources on Autism and a webinar recording on how to recognise and promote a neurodiverse workforce.  


Useful links 

Find out about eLearning modules for higher and further education institutions >>

Read the 3 blog articles from #ALTC blog regarding the study: 

  • First blog discusses what is neurodiversity. Read the blog on the #ALTC website.
  • Second blog focuses on neurodivergent students studying in home environments. Read the blog on the #ALTC website.
  • Third blog discusses the recommendations from the support perspectives. Read the blog on the #ALTC website. 

More resources 

Higher Education/Public Sector Update: Addressing Autism, Dyslexia, and Neurodivergence in education and work - AbilityNet webinar slides via SlideShare

Date of webinar: 
22 Mar 2022 - 13:00