This page explains the services and facilities we offer for disabled students and students with access requirements.
The Academy recognises that a diverse community of staff and students affords artistic, educational, social and organisational benefits. We are committed to promoting an environment which values diversity, and which identifies and removes barriers that prevent people from fulfilling their potential at the Academy.
Social Model of Disability
The Academy is informed by the ‘social model’ in its understanding of disability. The social model focuses on how people are disabled by the restrictions that exist within society, rather than by their impairment or condition.
The social model provides a framework that focuses on removing barriers and creating a more inclusive environment. By using the social model, the Academy strives to provide an inclusive environment for students, staff and visitors who use Academy facilities.
What is meant by the term ‘disability’?
The term ‘disability’ includes a wide range of impairments, medical conditions and mental health problems including:
- specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- social/communication impairments such as Asperger syndrome and autistic spectrum disorders
- sensory impairments, such as visual and hearing impairments
- mobility impairments
- long-term health conditions, such as diabetes
- ongoing medical conditions, such as multiple sclerosis
- a diagnosis of HIV, cancer or multiple sclerosis
- long-term mental health conditions
According to the Equality Act 2010 (S6), a person (P) has a disability if:
- P has a physical or mental impairment, and
- the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on P’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities
Disclosure and confidentiality
If you are planning to study or are already a student at the Academy and would like to discuss any issues relating to disability, you are welcome to contact the Disability Advisor, Sofia Ali and, when enrolled, your Head of Year (for undergraduates) or Tutor (for postgraduates).
Please contact us as early as possible so that appropriate support can be agreed and put in place. Information disclosed to the Academy by students is treated in confidence. When you first contact Student Support and Wellbeing (Disability), we will have a confidential discussion with you. We will ask you to sign a Confidentiality/Disclosure Consent Form, giving us permission to tell staff of any disability support or access arrangements required. We will discuss with you the information to be disclosed, provide you with a copy of the documentation – usually a Personal Learning Plan (PLP) – and ask you to confirm your consent to this by email.
The Academy welcomes enquiries and applications from disabled students. Candidates are recruited on the basis of their musical ability and potential. For details of our courses and facilities, please see our prospectus, or via the Admissions Team on 020 7873 7393 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Academy is committed to ensuring that candidates with disabilities and specific learning difficulties are not disadvantaged by the admissions or audition process.
When applying, you can use the UCAS Conservatoires online form to notify the Admissions Officer of any requirements you might have due to disability.
Any disability-related requirements will be agreed prior to audition. For example, a candidate with dyslexia will be allowed 25% extra time to complete their paperwork test. Email our Disability Advisor to discuss this further.
Specific audition requirements can be found on the individual departmental pages of the website.
All offers are posted from the Academy before Christmas.
Taking up a place at the Academy
If you tell us about a disability when you apply, the Disability Advisor will contact you by email before you start at the Academy and offer you an appointment to discuss any access or support requirements. We will arrange the meeting as early as possible, so that any necessary arrangements can be put in place early in the term.
If you did not disclose a disability when you applied but would like to discuss any issues relating to a disability, you are welcome to contact the Disability Advisor or your Head of Year (undergraduates) or before you start your studies and, when you arrive at the Academy and at any point during your course, the Senior Tutor in Undergraduate Pastoral Support (undergraduates), or your Tutor (postgraduates).
Heads of Year and Tutors
Undergraduate Heads of Year and postgraduate Tutors have overall responsibility for monitoring students’ progress and for their general pastoral care. They also assist and guide students in all areas of their curriculum, including performance and academic options, timetabling and any other aspect of a student’s programme of study. Postgraduate students are allocated a Tutor when they enrol
The Senior Tutor in Undergraduate Pastoral Support, Ruth Byrchmore, works with the Dean of Students, Heads of Year/Tutors, Disability Advisor and other Academy support mechanisms. Email Ruth here.
Disability and additional learning support
The Disability Advisor and the Additional Support Tutor offer advice and practical support in relation to disability or specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia or dyspraxia. They work alongside the Senior Tutor in Undergraduate Pastoral Support, Heads of Year and Tutors to support students.
Sofia Ali, Disability Advisor
Available: Monday and Thursday, 9.30am to 5pm
James Fullegar, Additional Support Tutor
Available: Thursday and Friday, 9.30am to 5pm
Initial screening, assessment or diagnosis
If you have or think you might have a disability, you can speak to the Disability Advisor, or to your Head of Year or the Senior Tutor in Undergraduate Pastoral Support (undergraduates) or Tutor (postgraduates).
If you think you might have ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), dyslexia or dyspraxia, you may be able to receive a formal diagnostic assessment with an educational psychologist. Please contact the Disability Advisor to discuss this in further detail.
The Disability Advisor can discuss the appropriate process of diagnosis for students with other disabilities or ongoing health conditions.
If you are a new student, we encourage you to contact the Disability Advisor at email@example.com before you start your course, or as soon as possible after you arrive at the Academy, so that arrangements such as extra time in examinations can be put in place in good time.
Students who have not been previously diagnosed with a specific learning disability, or who need an updated assessment (post-16 years), may be referred to a qualified educational psychologist. The assessment process takes about two-and-a-half hours. It may be possible for a student to apply to the Academy to contribute to the cost. Please contact the Disability Advisor for further information.
Formalising access/additional support arrangements
Any access or additional requirements you need related to a disability or specific learning difference (such as dyslexia or ADHD) will be set out in a Personal Learning Plan (PLP). A PLP is an agreement between you and the Academy which allows the Academy to make appropriate arrangements, referred to as ‘reasonable adjustments’ and allows you to agree to make the most of the support offered.
You will normally need evidence of disability before a PLP can be issued. For a specific learning difference, this is usually a diagnostic assessment carried out after the age of 16 by a suitably qualified psychologist or teacher. For other disabilities and health issues, evidence from a medical practitioner is usually required.
You will be invited to meet the Disability Advisor and any other relevant staff to discuss what arrangements are needed. Issues of confidentiality, disclosure and who will receive the PLP will be discussed with you. No information about your disability or specific learning difference will be sent out without your written consent.
Examples of common reasonable adjustments include:
- extra time in written exams (usually 25%)
- extra time in aural and sight-reading tests
- use of a laptop in written exams
- use of a separate room for written exams
- enlarged print scripts
- coloured paper exam scripts
This is not an exhaustive list. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Additional learning support
Additional learning support sessions are confidential one-to-one meetings with the Additional Support Tutor, either in person at the Academy or online via Microsoft Teams.
Any student (with or without a learning difference, disability, mental health issue, DSA, or PLP) can request additional learning sessions to get support with managing and developing their academic work at any point during their course. Students with a learning difference, disability, mental health issue, DSA or PLP receive priority booking.
Students can book either a single session on a specific issue, or a course of sessions to work in more depth. You and the Tutor will discuss your needs and together agree the frequency of sessions.
Examples of what additional support sessions can cover:
- Support with your time management and organisation:
- Scheduling the week ahead
- Planning your work (when and how you work)
- Identifying, breaking down and prioritising work tasks
- Developing suitable time structures and work goals
- Support with developing specific study skills, by discussing your assessments:
- Research skills
- Essay planning and writing skills
- Project planning skills (eg assignment goals, tasks timeline)
- Support with managing and working with a health condition or learning difference (eg dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, ASD), disability, or mental health
- Understanding how symptoms impact your learning
- Developing study strategies to work with and manage symptoms
Referrals can be made to the Disability Advisor, the Counselling Team, or other staff, if you require more or other support.
Before you start your course, please let the Disability Advisor know whether you think you would benefit from additional support.
To book a support session or find out more, please contact the Tutor:
James Fullegar, Additional Support Tutor
Available: Thursday and Friday, 9.30am to 5pm
Psychological Support Service
The Student Support Team has an in-house team of professionally trained and experienced counsellors who are skilled at helping people from different backgrounds and cultures with a wide range of issues. The team works in line with the Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions produced by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.
Any student requiring psychological support can contact the Counselling Team at any point during their course. Counselling sessions can take place either in person at the Academy or remotely online.
Please email the counselling team if you have any queries or would like to book a counselling appointment.
Please email our Disability Advisor to discuss access requirements before you start your studies at the Academy.
The Academy has links with the organisation Musicians in Focus (Visually Impaired) Ltd, run by Jackie Clifton. Jackie offers specialist training and support to enhance access for blind and visually impaired musicians. The Academy can help organise training to take place before a student starts their course, so they can begin their studies with confidence.
For contact details, please email our Disability Advisor.
Support for UK students can normally be funded through the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA). Further information about DSA can be found within the 'Other useful information' section below.
For students not eligible for DSA, funding options can be discussed with the Disability Advisor.
The Academy is committed to continuing to develop our services for disabled people and promoting disability equality. Details of our Equity Scheme, Primary Equality Objectives and Action Plan can be found here. Please email our Disability Advisor if you would like this in an alternative format.
Student-Staff Liaison CommitteeDisability issues are overseen by the Student-Staff Liaison Committee, which is chaired by Catherine Jury, Registrar and Director of Student Operations. All areas of student support and welfare are represented on this committee, which reports to the Standing Committee of the Academic Board.
The Royal Academy of Music Students’ Union is an independent student body, which exists to represent the interests of students at every level in the Academy. The Union can also provide support for students relating to individual issues.
Additionally, the Students’ Union is affiliated to the University of London, so its members have access to all clubs and societies. Find out more at University of London Clubs and Societies.
Financial help for disability support
Disabled Students’ Allowance
Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) are government grants that help to cover some of the extra costs that arise because of a mental health problem, long-term illness or any other disability when studying at higher education or postgraduate level. It is available to home students and students who have had settled status for at least three years.
Students can receive the allowances in addition to other student finance. You will not need to repay DSAs.
DSAs are not means-tested. Students can receive DSAs even if they do not qualify for help with fees or the means-tested element of the student loan.
Students can apply for DSAs if they have studied a course at the same level before. They are advised to check their fee situation with Registry.
There are three parts to DSAs for undergraduate students:
- The Specialist Equipment Allowance pays towards the cost of equipment such as computers, assistive technology and digital recorders (one amount to cover the whole of a course). Students are required to make a £200 contribution towards the cost of a computer.
- The Non-Medical Helpers’ Allowance pays for specialist tuition (for dyslexia, for example), helpers such as sign language interpreters or readers, mobility enablers and mental health mentors. This allowance may be granted to meet such costs for each year of study.
- The General Allowance can pay for other disability-related costs of studying, such as extra books, photocopying, CDs or extra heating costs, and it can also be used towards additional disability-related costs for accommodation, such as needing an ensuite room. Students can get the general allowance to meet such costs for each year of study.
Students can also apply for help with travel expenses if they have additional costs due to disability.
Postgraduate students can receive one sum for each year of study towards study-related disability expenses.
Applying for DSAs
To apply, students will require evidence of disability. This can be:
- a medical report/letter; or
- a dyslexia report carried out by a Chartered Educational Psychologist or other qualified person after you reached the age of 16
This evidence will need to be sent to the appropriate finance agency, dependent on where you live, together with a DSA application form, which can be downloaded from the links below. Applications can also be made online.
- In England: Student Finance England
- In Scotland: Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS)
- In Wales: Student Finance Wales
- In Northern Ireland: Student Finance NI
Further information and help
See the relevant link above for Student Finance. You will also be able to download the relevant application form or apply online.
Please contact the Disability Advisor at the Academy for further help with applying for DSAs.
Once your eligibility for DSAs is confirmed, Student Finance might ask you to contact an assessment centre to work out what help you need. This is known as a needs assessment. Do not book this unless and until you are asked to do so by Student Finance.
International students are not eligible to apply for DSAs but are advised to contact the Disability Advisor regarding assistance in finding alternative funding opportunities for disability-related expenditure.
The Royal Academy of Music is able to offer financial assistance to students who are experiencing hardship during their time at the Academy. The awards are made at the discretion of the Dean of Students.
Students wishing to be considered for an award should fill in the application form here and return it to the International Officer and Executive Assistant, Sarah Low, at email@example.com. If your request is particularly urgent, please discuss this with the International Officer and Executive Assistant.
Access to our buildings
The entrance to the main Royal Academy building on Marylebone Road is step free. There is a drop-off point via the slip road for taxis and other vehicles immediately outside this entrance
The reception area is on the ground floor as you enter the building. There is access by lift to some floors of the main building and to the Sound Bites canteen on the lower floor. There is an accessible toilet on this floor.
Wheelchair (step-free) access to the York Gate building is via a ramp at the side entrance of the York Gate building. This entrance is located approximately 100m to the left of the Academy’s main entrance and is adjacent to the David Josefowitz Recital Hall. It is signposted from the York Gate building front entrance. The ramped entrance has a remote entry system via voice intercom.
Once inside the building, via this entrance, there is access to all floors of York Gate, and accessible toilets via the lift.
The lift also provides access to the basement, from which there is access to the main building, as follows:
An enclosed platform lift takes you down to the lower level of York Gate and the basement area of the main building.
This gives access to the David Josefowitz Recital Hall, and a long corridor connects with the main building, including the canteen (Sound Bites) and bar. From here, there is a lift to all floors at the front section of the main building.
York Gate can also be accessed via the main entrance using the above route in reverse.
Prospective students who would like to visit the Academy for a tour of the premises and to discuss access arrangements are welcome to do so. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
See also: full step-free access guide.
Disabled refuge areas are provided in the York Gate Building and in the event of an evacuation of the building there are dedicated marshals to check the refuges and take whatever action is necessary to ensure that people are helped safely out of the building. If appropriate, a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) will be set up for individual students.
For further information, email email@example.com
Health and Safety
There are many options available to Academy students when choosing somewhere to live. We have produced some guides to help you make your choice, which can be found on the dedicated Accommodation page.
As a member institution of the University of London, all current and future students at the Academy are also able to make use of the free services offered by the University of London Housing Services (ULHS) department. These include advice and guidance on private accommodation and house hunting, as well as a large database of available accommodation – both whole properties and individual rooms.
You can contact ULHS on 020 7862 8880 (Monday-Saturday) or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to discuss any access issues or disability-related arrangements, please contact the Disability Advisor.
International Student House
International Students House offers affordable accommodation a short distance from the Academy.
Head to the International Student House Long Stay page to apply for a place online.
Driving and parking in central London
Within the City of Westminster, Blue Badge holders can park free of charge in designated disabled parking bays. At meters or pay-and-display parking, payment is necessary but Blue Badge holders are entitled to an additional hour of parking for free. Blue Badges must be displayed at all times while parked.
Read more: Blue Badge scheme, UK Government Website.
The City of Westminster also offers a White Badge scheme, which has similar application criteria as the Blue Badge. The White Badge enables holders to park without time restriction in residential bays and pay-and display street bays in Westminster, free of charge.
See the Westminster council website here for more information about disabled parking.
Holders of a Blue Badge are eligible for a 100% discount from London’s daily congestion charge, once they have registered for a one-off fee. Badge holders can register up to two vehicles they normally use. Please note that the Badge holder does not have to own the vehicle. The discount applies to the Badge holder, not the vehicle.
There is a slip road in front of the main building where taxis can safely drop off disabled people. Buses that pass by the front of the Academy include the 18, 27, 30 and 205. All of these bus routes are wheelchair accessible. They all have a low floor access and ramp.
More information about transport accessibility can be found on the Transport for London website here.
TfL’s guide to accessible travel can be found here.
Disability information and organisations
Disability Unit - Government website containing news and information on a wide range of disability issues.
Dyslexia and dyspraxia organisations
Autism and ADHD organisations
Mental health organisations
Disability and the arts
Help Musicians - Advice and information for disabled musicians.
Arts Council England - Advice and information about funding for the arts.
Musicians Union - Advice on the Equality Act 2010 and disability rights.
MindMup - Free online mind-mapping website
Natural Readers - Free professional text-to-speech program that converts any written text into spoken words
Speechify - iOS / Android app, Chrome extension
Read and write for Google Chrome - Chrome extension with text-to-speech,
dictionaries and speech-to-text dictation