Funding for support for disabled staff is the responsibility of the individual’s department. Much support can be arranged at little or no cost. Where there are significant costs involved, external funding may also be available through the Access to Work Scheme (ATW), run by the Department for Work and Pensions. However, since ATW requires large employers such as the University to meet the first £1000 of equipment costs, it may not be worth applying if total costs are likely to fall below this threshold.

People employed by colleges can apply for Access to Work funding too.

Please talk to the Staff Disability Advisor about the kinds of support that may be available, and the application process.

Step by step process

If you contact Access to Work (ATW) before you start or during the first six weeks of employment, they will normally meet 100% of the approved costs.  This is also true if you are taking up a new post in another part of the University or a college. Contact ATW as soon as you accept a job offer, to ensure that any support is in place before you start, and to reduce the costs incurred by the employer.

ATW requires an employer to share the costs of Special Aids and Equipment and Adaptations to Premises. A large employer like the University of Oxford is expected to pay the first £1,000 of costs and 20% costs above that threshold, up to £10,000. These costs would normally be met by your department. Cost-sharing is not required for other types of ATW support such as travel to work and specialist human support. See the Access to Work factsheet for employers

In order to make an application for support from Access to Work the individual staff member needs to contact them to begin the process. This can be done either by phone or online:

Tel. 0345 268 8489 (Textphone: 0845 608 8753)

Online form:

ATW staff may then arrange to call you back.  They may ask you for the following information, so have it ready:

  • National Insurance number
  • Workplace address including the postcode
  • Date of birth
  • Contact details
  • Line manager’s contact details and
  • Details of any difficulties you have at work due to your disability or health condition.

Your ATW Advisor contacts you to discuss your needs.  If these are straightforward, this may all be done by telephone.

Your ATW Adviser may arrange for an assessor to visit you at work or speak to you online to discuss your role and support needs. They will write a report for ATW recommending support.

Once ATW has agreed the recommendations they will send you and your manager a letter stating which costs they will meet. ATW may also ask you to sign and return a copy of the letter/declaration before they agree to release funds and send claim forms. 

Do not buy anything before ATW has agreed to refund costs. For more expensive items, the report may include three quotations, although ATW will only agree to meet the lowest cost. Details of suppliers are included in the ATW report, but your department may use an alternative supplier who is already on the Supplier Database. 

Your department will send a completed ATW claim form, together with certified copies of receipts. Your department should raise an invoice to ATW when claiming repayment, so that finance staff know what sums to expect. ATW will reimburse its share of costs. All claims should be submitted before the specified deadline in the letter agreeing support.

For ongoing support, such as a support worker or travel to work, claims should be submitted monthly by either you or your department, depending on what has been agreed by ATW.

ATW may refuse claims that are submitted outside the agreed time period and it will be up to the department to meet these costs.

Types of support funded by ATW

Special aids and equipment e.g. assistive software;

  • Specialist ergonomic equipment including mice, keyboards and office chairs, including where required if working from home
  • Adaptations to premises and equipment
  • Travel to work e.g. taxis if someone cannot use public transport due to a disability
  • Travel in work i.e. support with travel you need to do for work
  • Support worker
  • Communication Support e.g. a British Sign Language interpreter
  • Mental health support

Examples of support received by members of the University

  • An employee with dyslexia received text-to-speech software and training (paid for by the department) and workplace strategies training (paid in full by ATW).
  • An employee with a long-term medical condition was recommended a new desk chair and magnification software (cost-share by department and ATW). She also had help with travel to work by taxi (paid in full by ATW).
  • Some members of staff have support workers who provide help with tasks which the individuals are unable to carry out because of their disability.

Contact us

For enquiries, contact the Staff Disability Advisor -

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