Significant Ongoing Illness

This section introduces a number of significant ongoing illnesses and explores how ongoing illnesses may impact on a student's performance and participation in university life. Here, the main focus is to suggest ways in which you as a staff member can support students with ongoing illnesses manage their role of being a student.


Some Trinity students have ongoing medical conditions or illnesses which may impact on their studies or university life. These illnesses are sometimes referred to as ‘hidden disabilities’ because they are less obvious.

Significant Ongoing Illness Awareness Leaflet

Difficulties that may be experienced by university students with ongoing illnesses

Ongoing illnesses include Arthritis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes, Haemophilia, Crohn's Disease, Fibromyalgia and many more. Naturally, these and other ongoing illnesses vary in their symptoms and effects. In general, students with these types of illnesses:

  • Experience pain.
  • Experience fatigue (physical, cognitive, and emotional exhaustion).
  • Have to take medication (with possible side effects).
  • Can be more susceptible to stress, and illnesses could be exacerbated by times of stress.
  • Can have weakened immune systems.
  • Can miss lectures due to illness or hospitalisation.
  • May have mobility difficulties or muscle weakness.

Strategies staff can use to support students

  • As explained here, students may have disclosed a significant ongoing illness to their School. Access the LENS report for details on how you can support the student. Implement and support a student’s reasonable accommodations with efficiency and discretion. Be mindful of how a significant ongoing illness may impact a student’s experience of university life.
  • Make lecture notes available in advance if possible. Students with ongoing illnesses may find it difficult to maintain their concentration during lectures. Having lecture notes in advance enables students within the lecture to reduce the amount of handwritten notes they need to take, allowing them to concentrate on the material being delivered. This may enable the student to conserve energy for the rest of the university day. 
  • Prioritise reading lists. This enables students to engage more easily with pertinent course texts.
  • When planning course timetables, try to ensure timetabling gives all students sufficient time to move between teaching venues. Try to avoid significant location changes within a university day e.g. Trinity main campus and Trinity Centre for Health Sciences, St. James’s Hospital.
  • Be mindful of keeping areas clear, to reduce the likelihood of accidents. In long lectures, it may be helpful to allow students a quick break. Avoid drawing attention to students who may need to leave class. Accommodate students who may need to sit in certain learning situations e.g. in labs or practical anatomy.
  • Students with complex needs or severely reduced mobility may have a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEPS). The information for the student’s safe evacuation in the event of an emergency will be contained in their LENS report. Training in the use of evacuation equipment can be obtained from the Disability Service.
  • Help and advice on using the College Accessible information policy.


If you would like more information or support, contact the Disability Service. See the following links for more information about ongoing illnesses and useful resources: