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Forbes & Christine

Reasonable Adjustments For Stammering


How you can get changes at work, uni, school or when using services to make things fairer if you stammer. These changes are called 'reasonable adjustments'.

If you stammer, you'll know all too well that a lot of things in life just haven't been set up with stammering in mind. Navigating everyday tasks and procedures that involve speaking can be an absolute nightmare. 

  • Hands up anyone who dreads using the phone in front of colleagues? 
  • Do you find it incredibly annoying in online meetings when you block and people speak over you? 
  • Is it difficult to answer questions in front of a group at university? 
  • Is your child worried they won't be able to answer all the questions in a timed oral exam? 
  • Is it impossible to get past your bank's telephone voice recognition system?

Not only can these things be super frustrating, they can cause real anxiety and stress if you stammer. They get in the way and stop you from getting on with your day or from realising your potential. 

This is where 'reasonable adjustments' come in.

What are reasonable adjustments?

If you or your child is struggling in these situations, or if you feel like they're holding you back, you can ask for 'reasonable adjustments'. These are changes that employers, universities, schools, etc, can make to accommodate stammering.

For example, at work or in job interviews you can ask for reasonable adjustments such as:

  • Ways to make introductions and icebreakers feel less pressured. Eg, getting the Chair to introduce you in meetings.
  • Being allowed to use the chat function to type your answers in online interviews.
  • Extra time for presentations. 
  • Using the phone in a quiet space.

If you're at university or school, you or your child can get reasonable adjustments like:

  • Extra time for oral exams and presentations.
  • A system where you signal to the teacher that you know the answer but don't want to say it aloud.
  • Use name badges so you don't have to introduce yourself.

We've got loads more examples in our reasonable adjustment guides, which you can download below.

What's the law behind it?

If something is set up in a way that is making things harder if you stammer, it's putting you at a disadvantage. This can be discriminatory and there are laws in place to protect you.

Firstly there's the Equality Act which covers England, Scotland and Wales. Then there’s the Disability Discrimination Act, covering Northern Ireland. 

Under these, organisations have to make sure they're not disadvantaging people with disabilities. To ensure this, they have to make reasonable adjustments to the way they do things.

Hang on… is stammering a disability?

Lots of people wonder about this. The answer is that under the legal definition set out in the Acts, stammering can be classed as a disability.

The Acts define a disability as something that has an 'adverse effect on an individual's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities'. So, if stammering is affecting aspects of your, or your child's, everyday life, then you are covered. 

Even if you don't regard yourself as disabled, you can still ask for reasonable adjustments.

How can I get reasonable adjustments?

In an ideal world, consideration would automatically be made for people with differences. Things are slowly getting better, but you often still need to ask for these adjustments.

If you already know what adjustments you want, start a conversation about it with your employer, school, university, etc. Explain what's holding you back and say that you'd like reasonable adjustments.

At work

You might start discussing it with your line manager or recruiter. You could download and fill out our Reasonable adjustment form below and hand that in. Or use it to think through what adjustments you'd like.

At university

If you're at university, you can apply for reasonable adjustments through Student Services. It might be called Disability Services, or something similar. Download our 'Contacting Student Services template letter for this below — check off the areas you're concerned about, and hand it in.

At school

At school, the Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCo) is often a good place to start.

Why are they called reasonable adjustments'?

Any changes you ask for have to be 'reasonable', hence the name. What's considered 'reasonable'? you might well ask. Well, this depends very much on the needs of the individual and on the organisation concerned. Practicalities like costs and resources would need to be considered. Also, how disruptive it would be to make the changes.

You're welcome to chat with us about this to learn more. Start a webchat, phone for free on 0808 802 0002 or email

I have a covert stammer — will they understand?

You might have a covert stammer which means it isn't obvious to others. If you don't think the other person will believe that you stammer, explain to them how it affects you. Give them a link to our page 'What Is Covert Stammering?' to help them understand and 'get it'. 

Or, why not get in touch with us? We can contact the organisation with information about covert stammering. Start a webchat, phone us for free on 0808 802 0002 or email 

Will my employer think less of me if I ask for adjustments?

Any good employer would want to make sure you have what you need to do your job well. Letting them know that something is holding you back should make them want to improve things for you.

Are reasonable adjustment requests always successful? 

Many reasonable adjustments requests do get a positive response. But sometimes organisations will say no for a variety of reasons. They might argue it isn't 'reasonable'.

If you don't get a positive response and you'd like help to challenge it, contact us. We'd love to get involved. Again, start a webchat, email or phone our free helpline on 0808 802 0002.

Unsure? Worried about starting the conversation?

You might not be sure about what adjustments you want. Or, you may not feel confident about how to start those conversations. If you haven't told others you stammer, you might feel uncomfortable talking about it. 

Talk to us at STAMMA and we can help. Start a webchat, email or phone our free helpline for support. We'll get someone to work with you on your reasonable adjustments request.

Have you been discriminated against?

If you have been treated badly or unfairly because you stammer, contact our Advocacy Service. We want to help people who stammer get the same service, jobs, education and support that those who don't stammer expect. 

More information

What next?

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Please consider making a donation to STAMMA: click here. You'll be helping us to: 

  • keep our support services running for people who stammer and worried parents 
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