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Students with disabilities


DATE OF APPROVAL: 16 December 1991 (Resolution C-12/91-49.6)

AMENDMENTS: Manager: Equal Opportunity July 1998; Revision 3 September 1998 SMG; 11 October 1999, Manager: Equity and Diversity; 18 March 2003 (Resolution C-2003/1/12); Council (Resolution C-2008/6/7)

REFERENCE AUTHORITY: Senior Management Group

CROSS-REFERENCES: Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (as amended)
Commonwealth Disability Standards for Education 2005
South Australian Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (as amended)
Australian Vice Chancellors' Committee Guidelines for Students with a Disability 2006
University of South Australia Act 1990 (as amended)
University of South Australia Equal Opportunity Policy C- 2.4
University of South Australia Discrimination and Harassment Procedures (Students) 2005 (as amended)
University of South Australia Disability Action Plan 2002
University of South Australia Student Grievances Resolution Policy C-17
University of South Australia Car Parking Policy C-10
University of South Australia Design and Construction Guidelines 2007
University of South Australia Confidentiality of Student's Personal Information Policy A-46
University of South Australia Assessment Policies and Procedures Manual
University of South Australia Selection and Entry to Programs Policy A-18



The University of South Australia supports the right of people with disabilities to be involved in all facets of community life including full and equitable participation in higher education. The University recognises its social and legal obligation to provide an accessible and inclusive environment for students with disabilities. The University is committed to meeting its obligations outlined by the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992, the South Australian Equal Opportunity Act 1984, and the Disability Standards for Education 2005 . The University will act in accordance with the spirit and requirements of the legislation and AVCC guidelines issued in 2006.



The following principles underpin the policy, consistent with the University's legislative responsibilities and commitment to equality of access and outcomes for all students.

  1. Inclusive practice is the primary strategy for accommodating the needs of people with disabilities at the University of South Australia. Wherever practical, barriers will be removed or reduced in a systemic manner thereby reducing the need for individuals with disabilities to seek tailored services or adjustments.
  2. Students and, where applicable, prospective students with disabilities have a responsibility to provide information that will assist the University in the timely planning and implementation of appropriate services and adjustments.
  3. Provision of appropriate services to students with disabilities is the responsibility of all relevant organisational areas within the University. Particular advice and/or services may be provided by a unit or individual with specialist expertise.
  4. The University recognises that people with disabilities are best placed to understand their disability and capacities. Consequently, students with disabilities seeking reasonable services and adjustments share the responsibility for identifying appropriate solutions to difficulties they experience in the University environment.
  5. Reasonable services and adjustments should be designed to reduce or remove disability related barriers and support student independent learning. They should also maintain the academic standards and integrity of the student's program.
  6. The scope of this policy extends to those services being provided to students with disabilities by the University of South Australia. Where partner organisations are engaged in the provision of services those partners will be responsible for the provision of appropriate services and adjustments for students with disabilities.



Disability Access Plan

Refers to the written statement prepared by the Disability Service at the Learning and Teaching Unit or partner institution. The Disability Access Plan (DAP) is a formal document which records agreement between the University and a student requiring disability related services or adjustments. The Disability Access Plan documents the services and adjustments required for the individual student to enable equitable access to University education, services and facilities during their program of study. The Disability Access Plan includes an agreed Disability impact statement which is used to inform the negotiation of any further adjustments which may be required by the student at a local level.

The Disability Access Plan is based upon information provided by the student in consultation with the Disability Service and is supported by appropriate documentary information regarding their disability and predicted impact on study.

The Disability Access Plan can be temporary or can be in effect for the duration of the student's program of study depending on whether the disability is temporary, fluctuating or permanent. Review can be sought at any time by the student, Disability Service or Program Director.


This policy will use the term, 'students with disabilities' throughout as shorthand to include all disabilities covered under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA), and all intellectual and physical impairments covered by the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (EOA)

The definition of disability in the DDA is:

and includes a disability that:

The definition of intellectual impairment in the EOA is:

The definition of physical impairment in the EOA is:

whether permanent or temporary, but does not include intellectual impairment or mental illness.

The DDA and/or EOA (legislation) protect people with a disability/impairment who may be discriminated against because:

The legislation protects people who have some form of personal connection with a person with a disability like relatives, friends, carers and co-workers if they are discriminated against because of that connection or relationship.

Harassment because of disability is unlawful in employment, education and in the provision of goods, services and facilities.


Discrimination can occur either directly or indirectly. It is direct discrimination to treat people less favourably because of their disability. It is indirect discrimination when a practice appears to treat everyone equally but in effect disadvantages or excludes people with a disability.

Inherent Requirements

The term 'inherent requirements' refers to the skills and knowledge in a program or course which must be successfully completed by students regardless of their disability because they are essential to the program or course. Students with disabilities can be provided with reasonable services and adjustments, however, inherent requirements must be maintained.

Reasonable services and adjustments

Refers to making appropriate alterations to educational programs, procedures and facilities to remove barriers for students with disabilities. In the case of transnational students this policy will be viewed in the context of in-country legislation and is dependent on the agreement between the partner institution and the University in relation to resources.

Transnational students

Students studying a University of South Australia program in an offshore location under a collaborative agreement with a partner organisation, business or educational institution.



1 . Admission to the University of South Australia

1.1 The University will encourage applicants with disabilities to apply for admission to its programs and courses. The University will implement and monitor a flexible range of entry pathways to ensure that people with disabilities are not discriminated against through admission processes. Selection procedures are detailed in the policy on Selection and entry to programs.

1.2 In order to ensure access and participation in higher education consistent with the University’s commitment and responsibility to students with disabilities, a person with a disability will be able to seek admission on the same basis as a prospective student without a disability.

1.3 The University recognises that people may have experienced educational disadvantage as a result of their disability. Applicants will have the opportunity for this disadvantage to be taken into consideration by the University’s admission processes as per the University policy A-18.10: Selection and entry to programs.

1.4 The University will provide prospective students with advice that informs them of the inherent requirements of programs and courses including information detailing any specific competencies which are required.

2. Enrolment

2.1 The University will ensure that students with disabilities are provided with appropriate assistance to enable them to access its enrolment systems.

3. Disclosure

3.1 All students with disabilities will be invited to disclose their disability to the University at enrolment. The primary purpose of disclosure is to enable the University to facilitate the successful progress of a student through their educational program. This disclosure also enables the University to fulfil statistical reporting responsibilities to the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

3.2 A student is not required or obliged to disclose their disability during their enrolment but can elect to do so with reasonable notice to the University at anytime during their study. The University is not responsible for making individual adjustments for a student with a disability if they choose not to disclose.

3.3 Students who disclose that they have a disability at enrolment will be contacted by the University or partner institution* and provided with disability service information. Students are invited to discuss and negotiate individual services and adjustments where required. Disclosure of a disability at enrolment does not lead to the automatic provision of disability services.

*Where students study offshore through a partner institution this is dependent on the agreement signed between the partner and the University in relation to resources.

4. Requesting disability related services

4.1 The University aims to provide all its services to students in an inclusive manner, minimising access difficulties and the requirement for individual adjustments. Some students with disabilities will have particular requirements where individual services and adjustments are required. Requests for disability related information, specialised services and adjustments should be directed to the Disability Service at the Learning & Teaching Unit.

4.2 In the case of transnational students with a disability, the University's policy will be viewed in the context of in-country legislation and the provision of disability services will be provided in the context of the partnership agreement between the partner institution and the University. The Disability Service at the Learning & Teaching Unit will provide support to partner institutions by providing advice on disability services and adjustments.

5. Documentation

5.1 Students who request disability related services or adjustments will be required to provide appropriate documentation, from a qualified professional, in a timely manner to the Disability Service which outlines:

5.2 Disability information provided by students to the Disability Service will be treated in accordance with the University policy on Confidentiality of Students' Personal Information. Information will not be disseminated to other staff without the student's consent or outside the University without the student's explicit written agreement. However, information will be disclosed if there is a legal requirement to do so.

6. Disability Access Plan

6.1 The Disability Access Plan (DAP) will be the primary method for the Disability Service or partner institution, to document the impact of a student's disability on their studies, the disability services which have been agreed, and the details of agreed adjustments to examination conditions. It is not expected that students with short term medical conditions will usually require a Disability Access Plan. Procedures for variation to assessment methods, tasks and timelines on medical grounds are outlined in the Assessment Policy and Procedures Manual.

6.2 Students are encouraged to advocate on their own behalf, informing staff of their disability related needs and of their Disability Access Plan where required.

6.3 Students are required to make any requests for disability related services and adjustments in a timely manner such that academic participation can be planned over the duration of a study period.

6.4 Disability Advisers will provide students with assistance in discussing their disability related needs with other University staff and negotiate reasonable adjustments where required.

6.5 In the case of Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students a plan outlining any services and adjustments should be established in consultation with the student, Disability Service, Graduate Studies Office and the School's Research Degree Coordinator and/or Supervisor. Disability Access Plans should be developed to support both the proposal and research components.

6.5 Academic staff are expected to use the Disability Access Plan as a basis for discussion with students who require reasonable adjustments to accommodate their disability or medical condition.

7. Reasonable adjustments to teaching and assessment (Assessment Policy and Procedures Manual: Section 3)

7.1 Reasonable services and adjustments will be made to accommodate students with disabilities without compromising the academic standard or inherent requirements of the program or course.

7.2 It is the responsibility of the University in consultation with the student to identify those elements of a program or course that affect the student's ability to participate on the same basis as a student without a disability. This may require reasonable adjustments to teaching and learning materials, teaching methodology and assessment.

Continuous Assessment

7.3 Course Coordinators will negotiate reasonable adjustments to continuous assessment tasks, where requested by students with disabilities, provided the essential skills and knowledge being assessed are not compromised.

7.4 Adjustments and variations to assessment are informed by the impact of a student's disability on study tasks as outlined in the student's Disability Access Plan.

7.5 Once a student has a Disability Access Plan in place, a student may negotiate adjustment to continuous assessment tasks directly with the Course Coordinator. Students can seek assistance with this negotiation where required from the Disability Service or partner institution.

Modification to an Examination

7.6 Where a student requires modification to examinations which impact on the content or assessment method, this will be negotiated between the student and the Course Coordinator with assistance from the Disability Service or partner institution where required. The agreed examination modifications should be documented and will remain in place for the duration of the course unless a review is requested by the student or the Course Coordinator.

Variation to Examination Arrangements

7.7 Where a student requires a variation to examination arrangements which do not impact on the content or assessment method, such as a variation to standard exam time and/or conditions, the Disability Service or partner institution will document this in the student's Disability Access Plan. Such arrangements will remain in place for the duration of the student's Disability Access Plan.

7.8 The Disability Service and Student and Academic Services (SAS) will apply these conditions to examinations centrally administered by SAS. For examinations being run by Schools, separate arrangements need to be made by the student through the Course Coordinator.

Practice-based learning

7.9 Practice-based learning is an important part of the student experience at the University of South Australia. Once a student has a Disability Access Plan reasonable services or adjustments to participate in practice-based learning will be negotiated directly with the Course Coordinator. Students can seek assistance with this negotiation where required from the Disability Service or partner institution.

7.10 Where negotiation regarding adjustments involves host institutions for external placements, student consent will be gained before any disability related information is provided to the host.

7.11 Issues regarding 'medical fitness' and duty of care which arise in the context of practicum, field and clinical placement will be attended to by the University in accordance with section 4 of the Assessment Policy and Procedures Manual.

8. Grievance Procedures

8.1 The University recognises its responsibility to maintain appropriate processes for dealing with discrimination or grievance issues. All students will have their complaints resolved in a timely manner as per the University Policy C-17.3: Student Grievances Resolution.

9. Professional/Academic Staff Development and Training

9.1 The University will ensure staff are aware and attend to their responsibilities in relation to students with disabilities and the Disability Standards for Education (2005) through staff induction and professional development opportunities.

10. Risk Management

10.1 Where the nature or extent of a student's disability has the potential to create a health and safety risk for themselves, staff, students or others, a risk assessment should be carried out and appropriate control measures put in place with the advice of OHSW Services in Human Resources and the Disability Service at the Learning & Teaching Unit.

11. Policy review

11.1 The review of this policy is the responsibility of the Deputy Vice Chancellor and Vice President: Academic.