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Supporting students with disability

Curtin is legally required to provide reasonable adjustments to accommodate a student with disability.

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What is a 'reasonable adjustment'?

The Disability Standards for Education 2005 defines a 'reasonable adjustment' as a measure or action taken to assist a student with a disability to participate in education and training on the same basis as other students.

A reasonable adjustment:

  • balances the interests of all parties, however the interests of the student are a very significant consideration
  • maintains the academic integrity of the course/program/assessment
  • must be made within a reasonable time.

The Standards set out the following process for education providers to determine reasonable adjustments:

  1. Consult with the student
  2. Consider whether the adjustment is necessary
  3. Identify what reasonable adjustment can be made
  4. Make the reasonable adjustment.

Examples of reasonable adjustments include:

  • Study materials in alternative formats
  • Provision/use of assistive equipment 
  • Extensions on due dates of assessments
  • Support staff such as note takers, interpreters, and scribes
  • Alternative examination arrangements.

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Exceptions

The circumstances in which an education provider can lawfully decline a request for a reasonable adjustment include:

  • If making the adjustment causes the education provider unjustifiable hardship
  • If the disability is an infectious disease or other condition and it is reasonably necessary to isolate or discriminate to protect the health and welfare of the student with a disability or others.

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Process for recommending reasonable adjustments

The process for arranging a reasonable adjustment is as follows:

  1. The student with a disability/medical condition visits a Disability Advisor or relevant academic staff member to discuss their situation and request an adjustment
  2. The student provides supporting medical documentation, unless the disability and its impact is obvious. The letter or report should state the diagnosis and outline the impact of the condition on the student's ability to manage their studies and, wherever possible, should include recommendations for the student's ongoing participation at university
  3. A Disability Advisor or relevant staff member determines the appropriate adjustments on the basis of this documentation and interview with the student to determine their support needs
  4. In most cases, a Curtin Access Plan is developed and distributed to staff as deemed appropriate by the student and/or Disability Advisor
  5. The relevant staff member puts recommended adjustments in place for student.

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Identifying inherent requirements of courses

Universities must be clear about inherent or essential requirements of courses or programs in order to determine whether reasonable adjustments compromise the academic integrity of the course/program/assessment. There is no requirement to make adjustments that compromise the academic integrity of the course or program.

ADCET (Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training) provides guidance on determining core course requirements and links to several resources.

Western Sydney University has undertaken a major project to specify the inherent requirements of many of its courses and this model has been adopted by some Australian universities.  

 

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Alternative examination arrangements

Processes and guidelines are in place to ensure that those students with disabilities/medical conditions who require reasonable adjustments to manage their examinations will receive this service.

Centrally-scheduled examinations

The process for centrally-scheduled examinations is as follows:

  1. Student consults Disability Advisor to request Equity Exam arrangements at least 3 weeks before the start of the examination fortnight
  2. DA assesses student and makes recommendations on the basis of medical documentation and interview with student
  3. A Curtin Access Plan will be developed to detail the required Equity Exam arrangements. The arrangements are in place for the duration of the Curtin Access Plan.
  4. DA liaises with Examinations office regarding exam arrangements.
  5. Examinations office notifies student of the time and venue of their Equity Examination and notifies Unit Coordinator of arrangements. Examinations office arranges venues, additional equipment required and invigilators
  6. DA arranges support staff for student and/or an alternative format examination paper with staff member as required.

School-based examinations

The process for school-based examinations is as follows:

  1. Student consults Disability Advisor at least 2 weeks before the date of the assessment to request reasonable adjustments
  2. DA assesses student and makes recommendations on the basis of medical documentation and interview with student
  3. DA completes a Curtin Access Plan outlining appropriate examination arrangements, which is distributed to relevant staff by student or DA
  4. School arranges venue and supervision arrangements for the examination based on the recommendation of DA. The DA will arrange support staff such as scribes and readers, and can advise/assist with equipment and alternative format requirements if needed.

More information

For more information, please refer to the relevant policies on the Policy website:

  • Assessment and Student Progression Manual
  • Students with Disability Policy and Procedures 

 

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Fieldwork and students with disability

Reasonable adjustment and fieldwork

Curtin is required to make reasonable adjustments for students with a disability or medical condition to undertake fieldwork activities. This includes ensuring that appropriate adjustments are made by fieldwork education providers.

When seeking reasonable adjustments on fieldwork activities or placements, students must disclose their disability or medical condition to the university and provide appropriate supporting documentation prior to commencing the placement. In many cases the student discloses to a Disability Advisor who will create a Curtin Access Plan including recommendations for fieldwork, or contact the fieldwork coordinator directly.

Disability information should not be disclosed to a fieldwork agency without explicit consent by the student, however there may be some exceptions if disclosure if required by law or in the interest of public safety or the student's own safety. 

Alternatives to fieldwork

Where it is not possible for a student to participate in fieldwork education activities because of a disability or medical condition, the university must endeavour to provide alternative experiences that will meet the learning outcomes of the unit or course.

It is understood that students must meet the inherent requirements of fieldwork activities, and in some situations suitable alternatives may not be available.

Refer to the Fieldwork Policy and Procedures for more information.

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Useful links

Please refer to the ADCET website for useful information about supporting students with disability.          

 

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