Deciding what is fair
Most people recognise that being fair is not just a matter of applying equal treatment to all people. For example requiring all students to demonstrate their knowledge by sitting a 3 hour exam without a break, may be very unfair for a student with a back injury who cannot sit for that long. In fact, Commonwealth legislation requires that educators provide reasonable adjustments to ensure fair treatment of people with disabilities. Reasonable adjustments are changes to course content, delivery and assessment which are required by law to accommodate the needs of students with disabilities.
- Reasonable adjustments should be aimed at accommodating the impact of a student's disability or medical condition on their study and be based on information about the impact of the student's disability provided in a Access Plan (AP).
- Reasonable adjustments should be negotiated in a timely manner. Students can be expected to meet the terms of the agreed adjustments once they have been established. Additional extensions for an assignment would not be considered a 'reasonable adjustment' unless the student's circumstances change significantly, in which case additional supporting documentation would be required. (i.e. hospitalisation or other unforeseen health problem).
- Reasonable adjustments should not lessen the genuine academic standards of the course being taught and assessed. Genuine academic standards relate to the inherent skills and knowledge required as opposed to non-academic or non-essential skills such as an ability to read or write at a prescribed speed. Genuine academic standards should be described in course information booklets.
- Reasonable adjustments should not give a student with disabilities an unfair advantage over other students.
- Adjustments such as extra time in tests and extensions to deadlines would not be considered an unfair advantage where they are designed to accommodate the impact of a student's disability.
- Reasonable adjustments should seek to maximise a student's participation. Adjustments should be sought which do not preclude a student from interaction with the mainstream course material, other students and the learning environment.
- Reasonable adjustments which impact on the structure or content of exams are negotiated with the Course Coordinator. A Disability Adviser may assist in this negotiation or the student may communicate independently with their Course Coordinator.
- Where agreements are reached between a student and their Course Coordinator to modify exam arrangements or curriculum for a course, the Course Coordinator should notify the Disability Adviser indicated on the student's DAP so that the agreement can be incorporated into the student's DAP.
- Learning and Teaching Unit Disability Advisers can provide advice on reasonable adjustments.