More disabled postgraduate research students are now enrolled than ever before. Since the Equality Act (2010) institutions have developed their awareness of the issues involved. Many institutions now provide dedicated support for disabled students and this should include disabled postgraduate researchers. Disability covers a wide range of impairments including physical and mobility difficulties, hearing impairments, visual impairments, learning difficulties including dyslexia, medical conditions and mental health problems. Some of these impairments may have few, if any, implications for a researcher's life or study. Others may have little impact on day to day life but may have a major impact on research, or vice versa. People may have fluctuating conditions or may be disabled temporarily by accident or illness.
If you become disabled or aware of your disability while you are doing your doctorate, you will be need to find out what works best for you. Make sure you get all the advice and help you can get. Most institutions will have a disability resource centre, disability adviser,officer or similar. Try to include your supervisor in this process as it will make them more aware of the implications for you and your research. Premia exists to improve provision for disabled postgraduate research students, to increase the number of disabled research students and to improve the quality of their experience.
If you are already disabled you will probably have had some experience of dealing with your disability in a higher education environment. Do remember that a research degree is very different from an undergraduate degree or taught masters and for some disabled researchers that will mean different support requirements. Also bear in mind that your supervisor may not have any such experience. Be clear to yourself and to other people about your own limits and boundaries as it may be hard for people to judge what you can and cannot do as every disability is different. An effective approach is to be proactive and solution focused. When you raise an issue, try to have a solution or possible solutions worked out. You can arrive at these solutions by working with the disability adviser/officer or similar in your institution.
If your disability is physical your health and safety officer should be able to advise you on adaptations that can be made available. For some adaptations it may be useful to access some funding and there are a number of different funding opportunities which your disability adviser will be aware of.
Disabled Students' Allowances are available for postgraduate researchers.