This article provides an overview of the different arrangements that are usually made for research students with disabilities, mental health difficulties and chronic medical conditions. 

 

Can I inform my viva examiners that I have a disability? 
When you enter for a viva examination, you can request to inform your examiners of your disability by contacting Disability Support and requesting a “disability note for examiners” within your email. The Disability Support Team will contact you to arrange a discussion about what should be included in the disability note.
 
Can I request reasonable adjustments in a viva examination?
To request reasonable adjustments in a viva examination, you will need to contact Disability Support and request a "disability note for examiners" within your email. The Disability Support Team will contact you to arrange a discussion about what should be included in the disability note. 
 
 
What type of adjustments can be made? 

 

Important to know:
• You may request different arrangements are made to the adjustments listed below, but all requests will need to be supported by medical evidence.
• The evidence you provide can be from a medical practitioner or Disability Support.

 
 

What viva adjustments can be made for research students with Specific learning difficulties (SpLDs)?


Possible viva adjustments for students with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD's) can include:

 

  • Requests to repeat information and questions if needed.

  • Use of notes and prompt cards by the student (brief aide memoirs rather than exhaustive notes).

  • Students can note questions before answering.

  • Rest breaks for fatigue or attention issues.

  • Examiners can be requested to redirect/prompt students if they stray off topic (ADHD).

  • The use of a digital recorder for the part of the viva where corrections are discussed.

 

 

What viva adjustments can be made for research students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) / Asperger's Syndrome?

Possible viva adjustments that are made for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) / Asperger's Syndrome can include:

 

  • Opportunity for students to meet the examiners beforehand (online).

  • Examiners to be made aware of the potential for ticks, repetitive behaviours, or other ASD related behaviours in advance (if applicable)

  • Examiners to be made aware that the student may not be able to make direct eye contact when answering questions and engaging in discussion.

  • Examiners to avoid the use of metaphorical language, to be prepared to re-phrase/ask questions in more explicit concrete terms if requested.

  • Examiners to be requested to redirect/prompt the candidate if they stray off topic or have difficulty judging how much information is required.

  • Requesting permission for an appropriate person to attend in a supportive capacity; it should be made clear that this person is not permitted to participate in the viva by, for example, interpreting the examiners’ questions for the student.

 

 

What viva adjustments can be made for research students with mental health difficulties?


Possible viva adjustments that are made for research students with mental health difficulties can include:

 

  • Request consideration of scheduling (e.g., morning or afternoon start).

  • Examiners to be made aware the student is likely to experience greater anxiety than would typically be expected.

  • Students can request permission for an appropriate person to attend in a supportive capacity; it should be made clear that this person is not permitted to participate in the viva by, for example, interpreting the examiners’ questions for the candidate.

 

 

What viva adjustments can be made for research students with hearing impairments?

Possible viva adjustments made for research students with hearing impairments are as follows:

 

  • Arrangements to facilitate the student’s use of communication aids – this could include hearing support systems compatible with hearing aids (infra-red/loop systems installed in the room, or portable individual technology).

  • Arrangements to ensure examiners wear/use a microphone can be made in advance.

  • Arrangements for communication support such as British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters.

  • Students can request for examiners to speak clearly without covering mouths (for students who lip read)

 

 

What viva adjustments can be made for research students with visual impairments?

Possible viva adjustments for research students with visual impairments can include:

 

  • The use of assistive technology for reading, writing and note taking (e.g., to access an electronic version of the PhD thesis).

  • Printed documentation in an accessible format (students must state the required format in advance).

  • Examiners are informed in advance if students will be accompanied by a sighted guide or a registered assistance dog.

  • Correspondence between examiners and the student following the exam (for example receiving a list of agreed corrections) sent in an electronic format.

 

 

What viva adjustments can be made for research students with Chronic medical conditions and unseen disabilities?

Possible viva adjustments for research students with chronic medical conditions and unseen disabilities can include:

 

  • Request consideration of scheduling (e.g., morning or afternoon start).

  • Comfortable / ergonomic seating.

  • Rest breaks.

 

 

What viva adjustments can be made for research students with physical disability and mobility impairments?

Possible viva adjustments for research students with physical disabilities and mobility impairments can include:

 

  • Rest breaks.

  • Ergonomic seating.

  • Examiners to be informed in advance if the student will be accompanied by a personal care / study support assistant.

 

Important to know:
  • You may request different arrangements are made to the adjustments listed above, but all requests will need to be supported by medical evidence. For further advice or guidance, please contact Disability Support.

  • For more information on completing a Research Degree at King’s visit the Research Degrees webpages.