Physical Difficulty

Physical Difficulties Support Programme

Third Level Access is co-funded by the Department of Education and Skills and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020


The DSS has an advisor specifically to support students who have a physical disability. The role of this advisor is to engage with the student and to assess their need for academic supports. Relevant supports are then put in place as a result of this assessment.

The objective of the support programme is to support and empower students.

  • Physical disability covers a wide range of impairment from mild to severe and may affect some/all levels of functioning and engagement in the education environment.
  • Physical disability can be as transient as a broken limb or be arising from a congenital defect.  It is marked however by a difficulty in accessing the physical and social environment for which specific accommodations may be needed.
  • Physical disability uniquely affects individuals and thus personalised and specific accommodations are often required for accessibility.
  • Students may have physical disabilities arising from conditions such as congenital deformities, spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, brittle bones, haemophilia, arthritis or severe accidental injury. It is important to state that there is no necessary direct correlation between the degree of physical disability and the inability to cope with the university curriculum, apart from the elements involving physical activity. Physical access can be a major concern for students who have physical disabilities as those who use wheelchairs, braces, crutches, rollators, canes or prostheses, or those who fatigue easily may have difficulty moving around campus.


For more information please contact 


Tel: 021-4902985

Guidelines & Procedures


  • If a student is unable to meet a deadline for Continuous Assessment, they should contact the academic department as soon as possible
  • The Disability Support Service will no longer request extensions on behalf of students with disabilities

Splitting and Deferring Exams

  • In exceptional circumstances, a student may submit an application to split examinations over the Summer and Autumn Examination Schedule or defer examinations to the Summer Examination Schedule of the following academic year
  • Student must submit Consultant’s verification, advising of this option, on grounds of impact of disability before the end of November of academic year
  • Student must meet with academic department to seek authorisation and then meet with their Disability Advisor who will process the request


Guidelines for Using a Scribe

Fitness to Practice Policy UCC

Disability Support Service Code of Practice


1. How do I register with the Disability Support Service?

In order to register with the Disability Support Service, you need to make an appointment to meet with your Disability Advisor, Mary O’Grady, who will conduct a Needs Assessment. This will determine the supports that you may require during your time in University. Once these supports are identified, a Learning Educational Needs Summary (LENS) will be provided to you. The LENS may then be forwarded to your academic department so that they too are aware of your needs.

The Disability Support Service may be contacted at (021)4902985 or at

2. What supports can I avail of as a student with a physical disability?

The Disability Support Service offers a range of supports to students with physical disabilities. These include:

  • Educational Supports – Educational Assistance, Alternative Examination Accommodations and Notetaking and Additional Tuition where necessary.
  • Technological Supports – Assistive Technology to include a range of hardware and software such as adaptive keyboards, voice activated software, Panopto, Digital Recorders and Livescribe Pens.
  • Personal Supports – Personal Assistance and On Campus Transport Service. 

3. I need to use Assistive Technology, where can I find out more about this?

If it is determined in your Needs Assessment that you may require Assistive Technology for your studies or examinations, you will be referred to the Assistive Technology Officer, Linda Doran, for an AT assessment. The type of Assistive Technology that you may benefit from will be identified and put in place for you.

In addition to this, the Disability Support Service operates an Assistive Technology Lab in the Boole Library. Students registered with the Service are welcome to use this service. It includes:

17 PC’s that have a variety of specialized software including;

  • Audionotetaker
  • A HP Touchscreen which is accessible on a height adjustable desk
  • 2 High Speed Cannon Scanners with document feed
  • A Zeta Scanner

4. Is the UCC Campus Accessible?

For the most part, the UCC campus is accessible. Lecture venues have ramps and accessible access installed. The Boole Library and Student Centre are both fully accessible. Many services on campus are also accessible. Whilst every effort is made to facilitate accessibility, in the event that you are having difficulty, please contact the Disability Support Service, who will be happy to assist you. Maps indicating accessible parking and toilets are also available at the Disability Support Service.

5. What assistance is provided to students with physical disabilities in relation to employment?

The Disability Support Service offers a Career Support Programme for current students with disabilities. This programme provides the following assistance and guidance to students as they prepare for the transition to employment or further study/training:

  • Assistance with application process
  • Interview preparation
  • CV preparation
  • Advice on disclosure and reasonable accommodations

For further information, please contact Barbara MacCarthy at or at 021 4903768.

6. How do I avail of the Accessible Transport Service?

Please contact the Disability Support Service with a copy of medical verification and your timetable and we will put you in touch with the Transport Service operator.

7. I drive an adapted vehicle, where should I park?

The Disability Support Service can organize access for you to park in an accessible parking space on campus. Please contact the Service with a copy of your IWA parking permit and car details and we will be happy to assist you.


For more information please contact Mary on:

Tel: 021-4902985

RED: Online Academic Skills

RED (Resources for Education) has been especially designed for all UCC students, to help them with their academic skills. It has sections on notetaking, preparing for exams and writing essays. It also has how-to guides, and tips for giving presentations. You can check it out at:


Guidelines, Useful Publications & Forms

A list of the DSS guidelies, publications and forms is available from this link

Example of Conditions

Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a result of injury to the largest part of the brain, the cerebrum. It is characterised by impaired muscular function. It is a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture that is caused by injury or abnormal development in the immature brain, most often before birth. Signs and symptoms appear during infancy or preschool years. In general, cerebral palsy causes impaired movement associated with exaggerated reflexes or rigidity of the limbs and trunk, abnormal posture, involuntary movements, unsteadiness of walking, or some combination of these. The effect of cerebral palsy on functional abilities varies greatly.People with cerebral palsy often have other conditions related to developmental brain abnormalities, such as intellectual disabilities, vision and hearing problems, or seizures. A broad spectrum of treatments may help minimize the effect of cerebral palsy and improve a person's functional abilities.

Multiple Sclerosis(MS) is a progressive disease of the central nervous system characterised by decreased nerve function. It is a potentially debilitating disease in which the body's immune system eats away at the protective sheath that covers the nerves. This interferes with the communication between the brain and the rest of the body. Ultimately, this may result in deterioration of the nerves themselves, a process that's not reversible. Symptoms vary widely, depending on the amount of damage and which nerves are affected. People with severe cases of multiple sclerosis may lose the ability to walk or speak. Multiple sclerosis can be difficult to diagnose early in the course of the disease because symptoms often come and go — sometimes disappearing for months.There's no cure for multiple sclerosis. However treatments can help treat attacks, modify the course of the disease and treat symptoms

Muscular dystrophy is a group of genetic diseases in which muscle fibres are unusually susceptible to damage. These damaged muscles become progressively weaker. Most people who have muscular dystrophy will eventually need to use a wheelchair. There are many different kinds of muscular dystrophy. Symptoms of the most common variety begin in childhood, primarily in boys. Other types of muscular dystrophy don't surface until adulthood.People who have muscular dystrophy may have trouble breathing or swallowing. Their limbs may also draw inward and become fixed in that position — a problem called contracture. Some varieties of the disease can also affect the heart and other organs.While there is no cure for muscular dystrophy, medications and therapy can slow the course of the disease.

Spina Bifida or Hydrocephalus can occur when one or more vertebrae in the spine fail to form properly in early pregnancy. When this happens, the nerves in the spine may be unprotected and this can lead to damage to the central nervous system.

Disability Support Service

Seirbhís Tacaíochta do Dhaoine faoi Mhíchumas

South Lodge, UCC, College Road, Cork