Reasonable adjustments enable you to participate in the academic assessment process on a fair basis, and according to your preferences. Find out how to arrange reasonable adjustments that work for you.
Reasonable adjustments allow you to fully participate in learning, assessment, university facilities and services. When it comes to assessments, for example, a reasonable adjustment could be making a video presentation instead of presenting in person, or having extra time in an exam, or showing your work to the tutor in private, rather than in front of a group. Under the UK Equality Act 2010, reasonable adjustments are required where disabled students experience substantial disadvantage in comparison with non-disabled people. Universities have an anticipatory duty to provide reasonable adjustments for students. This means your university needs to plan ahead and address any barriers that may potentially affect your studies and well-being. Some universities and some courses have risen to this challenge by putting in place systems that are on offer to all students, whether registered disabled or not. Examples are audio-recording every single lecture, or providing not just one route of assessment but several different ones for a particular assignment. However, currently this is the exception rather than the norm, and the more established route is to offer individual reasonable adjustments for specific requirements.
How does it work?
To be eligible for individual reasonable adjustments you need to have had an autism diagnosis and have told your university about your autism. The university’s Disability Service then meets with you and discusses your needs. Ideally, this also involves an academic from the course you are studying. It is important that you are actively involved in this process, and also in making decisions regarding reasonable adjustments that work for you.
How could this affect me?
Some students may, for example, have difficulties with concentration and focus, with reading and writing speed or with organising their thoughts when taking notes or writing an essay. A few examples of reasonable adjustments are: accessing lecture slides in advance, study skills tuition to teach strategies for organisation, extra time for exams or coursework, use of a laptop in exams, software for mind mapping or to convert type to speech, or mentoring to support the student in identifying and resolving issues which are impacting upon their study.
These adjustments can be discussed with a Disability Adviser before you start your course, or at any time during your course.
What to do next?
Arrange a meeting with disability support AND your course leader
- Get disability support people AND academics together
- Negotiate your reasonable adjustments, rather than taking them as they come – what works for you individually?
- Focus on learning outcomes rather than assessment procedures – what are alternative ways for you to evidence your knowledge and understanding?
- Ask academics to be creative, and potentially move away from tradition. Acknowledge that this can be uncomfortable for them.
- Remember that the disability team is always there to support you, but they won’t necessarily know the academic requirements.
- Reply promptly to all communications regarding your support and reasonable adjustments, to ensure support is put in place when it’s needed.
Additional information and links
The Equality Challenge Unit has published guidance on reasonable adjustments to assist universities in planning and implementing them: http://www.ecu.ac.uk/publications/managing-reasonable-adjustments-in-higher-education/