Disability Office ist UZH's Center of Expertise in terms of Inclusion, Accessibility, Academic Accomodations and Equal Rights for people with disabilities or chronic illnesses.

According to the applicable law we support all units of UZH in providing inclusive study and working conditions. We are offering a wide range of services to all members of UZH as well as the governing bodies of the university.

We believe that an accessible environment universally benefits everyone.

Logo of Disability Office, a Key

1. What is the Disability Office?

Studying with a disability or a chronic illness can create many physical, organizational and administrative challenges.

The Disability Office is in charge of giving support to students who are faced with these challenges. This role is stated in the Ordinances of the University of Zurich, which you can find below (section 3).

Our goal here at the Disability Office is to offer equal opportunities to all students and to remove as many physical, technical and administrative barriers as possible. We work with the faculties, institutes and departments to increase awareness of the disadvantages faced by students with disabilities in the academic world. Our daily activities involve finding individual solutions for UZH students with disabilities, and working towards creating equal opportunities.

This fact sheet provides prospective students with information about people, organizations and procedures, focussing on improving everyone's academic goals, whatever they may be.

2. What services does the Disability Office offer to students?

  • Information and individual counselling
  • Assessing and/or organizing reasonable adjustments in cooperation with the student advisor from the pertinent field of study
  • Assistance for study-related activities
  • Alternative Media Services (e.g. digital books)

3. How to assess your individual needs

The following questions should be considered before contacting the Disability Office:

  1. In which situations or during what kind of study-related activities can you report limitations due to impairment or chronic illness? For example:
    • Reading
    • Writing
    • Speaking
    • Taking notes
    • Participating in classes and seminars
    • Organizing the workday
    • Individual or group learning
    • eLearning
    • Papers
    • Talk
    • Internship/ practical training
    • Oral and written exams
    • Interpersonal communication
  2. How does this affect your daily life as a student?
  3. What ressources, including technical aids and assistive technology, are you taking advantage of now? What must be considered when using them and how does using them affect your studies?
  4. What assistance and support in academic matters have proven useful so far?
  5. What are your needs while studying at the University of Zurich?
  6. Do any other areas need to be aranged (e.g. finances, housing)?

4. Checklist: Before the semester begins

There is a lot to organize before the semester begins and we advise you to contact the Disability Office as early as possible. We are glad to help!

  1. Access: Is there barrier-free access to the lecture halls? Are there height-adjustable desks? Is there a wheelchair-accessible restroom close to the lecture hall? Are there outlets for laptops near your seat?
  2. Books: Do you need a special format? The Disabiliy Office is glad to help you find the required literature in the right format.
  3. Start-up assistance: Support in arranging the necessary assistance (mainly for first-year students).
  4. Schedule: We can help you organize your schedule.
  5. Keys: Some elevators are reserved for students with disabilities and staff. A key is needed to operate these elevators. All wheelchair-accessible restrooms are locked with a "Euro-key" (see below) and the wheelchair entrances to some buildings require keys, too. The Disability Office gladly helps you obtain the necessary keys.

Other needs can be discussed on an individual basis.

5. Requesting support and reasonable adjustments

Support and reasonable adjustments according to your individual needs can only be arranged if you have written proof of your impairment. The Disability Office will help with assessing your situation and, in particular, with determining how your impairment adversely affects your abiity to fulfill study requirements. In the spirit of shared responsibility, we can write the request for reasonable adjustments and/or support together. Please note that you may need to authorize your physician or therapist to release medical information.

Please read the information about deadlines and procedures for submitting applications/requests found in the program regulations and on the website of the institutes and dean's offices. If your situation most likely requires permanent adjustments, you should submit your request for support as early as possible. And remember that booking a module automatically registers you for the official assessment.

6. Required proof of disability

The University of Zurich requires that students with disabilities provide credible proof of their impairment. A confirmation must demonstrate your need for reasonable adjustments and support due to impairment or chronic illness. The Disability Office will gladly help find a satisfying solution for all parties.

General guidelines regarding proof of disability:

  • Please observe the deadlines for special request found in the program regulations for the individual field of study
  • It is important that you get your doctor's note/medical certification early.
  • Recommendations:
    • For ADS: Please present a letter or reports from physician or a specialized psychologist.
    • For Dyslexia, Dysphasia, Dysgraphia, and Dyscalculia: Please hand in a report from a center for neuropychological diagnoses. The report must have been issued within the past year to date.
    • For all other situations: Please present a letter written by a medical specialist or your family doctor
    • The following points should be included:
      • More important than an exact diagnosis is the consequence of your impairment or chronicle illness on study-related activities and, if applicable, on other areas.
      • Date of the diagnosis.
      • Predicted progression of the impairment or chronicle illness, e.g. stable, progressive, recurrent. If the status of your impairment or chronicle illness is stable, a statement as follows should be included: "The assistance provided is adequate as long as there is no significant change in the student's health."

7. Available support services and adjustments – on request

  • Changing to a wheelchair-accessible exam room
  • Use of personal assistive technology
  • Scribe and/or reader for exams
  • Time extension for exam
  • Separate exam room
  • Special format for exam questions and/or answers
  • Other support may be discussed on an individual basis

8. Social events

The Disability Office organizes one or two dinners every semester. The dates are published on the website. All students who are registered with the Disability Office as well as staff members at the University who are, in one way or another, in charge of a disability-related issue are invited to these events. It is a great opportunity and highly recommended for socializing and finding new friends from other fields of study and backgrounds.

9. For international students

International students, including those with disabilities, can join the Erasmus Student Network, ESN. The ESNs mission is to help international students get adjusted to a new place, a new country and perhaps even a new culture. The weekly international pub (on Wednesdays) is a nice way to socialize and get to know Zurich better. In addition, trips to many interesting locations in Switzerland are organized at low cost. For further information, visite the website.

http://www.uzh.ch/index_en.html Main website of the University of Zurich

http://www.disabilityoffice.uzh.ch Disability Office at the University of Zurich (in German)

http://www.uniability.uzh.ch/index_en.html Contains information on accessibility of lecture halls

http://www.proinfirmis.ch/index.php?id=2670 The universal wheelchair restroom key for Europe

http://www.bkz.ch Umbrella organization of organizations and institutions working for people with disability in Canton Zurich (in German)

http://www.btz.ch Transportation service for people with disabilities in the city of Zurich and surrounding areas (in German)

http://www.sbb.ch/en/station-services/passengers-with-reduced-mobility.html Swiss Federal Railway

http://www.stadt-zuerich.ch/vbz/de/index/fahrplan/reisehilfe/handicap.html Zurich public transportation (in German)

http://www.wohnen.ethz.ch/index_EN Housing office of the University of Zurich

For further information

Please contact the Disability Office: fsb@sib.uzh.ch