Faculty Student Disability Liaison Officers (SDLOs)
The role of the SDLO
The following information is taken from the SDLO Role Overview. A copy of the overview can be made available upon request.
Role Overview: The Student Disability Liaison Officer (SDLO) provides a link between the Disability Services Office and the faculty. The SDLO is a voluntary role, which is appointed by the faculty Dean.
Scope of the SDLO Role: The scope of the SDLO role is broad. The following points may help to guide you in your role as SDLO within your faculty:
- Be the faculty’s link with Disability Services
- Be a contact person in your faculty for students with a disability
- Provide advice to students about faculty contacts and procedures
- Assist Disability Services in advising other staff on inclusive teaching practices
- Refer students to Disability Services, where appropriate
- Assist Disability Services to generate and develop Disability Awareness in your faculty
- Assist Disability Services in relaying important information at critical times to your faculty
- Advise Disability Services of any relevant changes to processes or policies within your faculty
- Advise Disability Services of any concerns being raised in your faculty about how students with disabilities are, or are expected to be, supported
- Provide timely and accurate advice to students, staff, and Disability Services
- Be responsible for sending the Disability Services Newsletter on to all teaching staff in your faculty
- Continue your disability awareness training through attendance at the SDLO Forums (twice yearly)
Successful SDLO Characteristics:
- Being approachable and accessible
- Having good disability awareness, or a willingness to learn
- Being a problem solver and forward thinker
- Being a ‘faculty expert’ – know as much as you can regarding your faculty, processes and procedures, who the ‘go to’ people are etc
- Knowing how to do things like making room bookings or how to access equipment, so that you can provide timely advice/assistance
It is important to know that it is not your responsibility to undertake any of the following, however, you and your faculty may decide to incorporate some of these into the scope of your role. This is at your discretion and your own workload must be taken into consideration:
- Handle complaints or resolve conflict between a student and the faculty
- Manage examination adjustments
- Negotiate on behalf of a student with disability
- Determine/approve academic adjustments
What contact will be made with me?
Disability Services may send you a ‘referral’ by email when the student registers with he service. The referral email is brief and does not contain details of the student’s disability or include copies of medical documentation. The referral email advises that the student may contact you if they require assistance, and you can choose to send the student a brief email of introduction or welcome yourself. Please note that the student is not required to meet with you after a referral is made.
Sometimes a student may request that a referral is not made, so you may not be aware of a student’s registration until they contact you directly, or until you are copied on correspondence to an academic. In some instances, you may never have contact with or about a particular student at all.
It is important to note that Disability Services undertake direct communication and negotiation with academic staff in regards to a student’s needs. The SDLO may not necessarily be involved in this communication.
What information will I receive about a student?
This depends on the student. When you are sent a referral you are not provided with a diagnosis or copies of medical documentation. However, in the event that the student has high needs, you may be sent a Disability Notification Letter, which will detail the impacts of the student’s disability (but not the diagnosis) along with recommendations for adjustments, considerations, and inclusive teaching practices.
Unless otherwise indicated, this information is for your awareness only and you are not required to do anything with this information. The teaching staff will be contacted directly by Disability Services.
It is important to understand that the student is not required to disclose their disability to you or the faculty.
What should I do with the information I receive?
This is up to you. However, if you maintain lists of your referrals, they should not be shared with the faculty. If an academic contacts you asking if a particular student is registered with Disability Services, you are permitted to advise whether you are aware or not of a registration and Disability Services can be contacted for formal confirmation.
Will I get a list of all the registered students in my faculty?
No. As some students may request that a referral is not made, we cannot provide you with a complete list.
What is the scope of my role?
Outside of the specific points noted on the first page, you can expand your role as much as you like to meet the needs of your faculty. We encourage you to identify areas within your faculty that need further support or a different approach and bring these to us for review.
However, it is important to remember not to stretch yourself too thin – taking on specific tasks outside of the scope of the role may conflict with your own responsibilities.
It is also important to acknowledge that there are specific processes within Disability Services that should not be changed by any faculty. Any ideas for procedural change should be raised with the Manager, Disability Services.
Support and training for SDLOs
If you have concerns about your role or need advice with a student case, the Disability Services team are always available to provide assistance.
An SDLO Forum is also held each semester (during UA Common Week) where case studies covering a variety of disabilities in complex situations will be presented and recent developments are discussed. This is an opportunity to meet the Disability Services team and other SDLOs and to discuss issues that concern you.
How do I become an SDLO?
If you are interested in supporting your faculty and students with disabilities, you should approach your faculty dean to discuss this further. We could always use more support!