There are over 1,300 UNSW students registered with Disability Services who have declared they have a disability that needs to be accommodated with educational adjustments to their studies. You may or may not know you have a student with a disability in your lecture or tutorial. Here are some frequently asked questions and ways you can assist and respond effectively to the needs of disabled students at UNSW.

What is defined as a disability?

Student disabilities include physical impairment (vision, ability to walk, hearing), learning disabilities as well as mental health conditions including attention deficit disorder (ADD), anxiety disorder (including obsessive compulsive disorder), post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, Asperger’s syndrome, depressive disorder and eating disorders.

What are educational adjustments?

Under Australian law, educational institutions must provide reasonable adjustments for students with disabilities. If you have any questions or concerns regarding a student with a disability, the UNSW Disability Unit is available on: 02 9385 4734 or via email: disabilities@unsw.edu.au

The purpose of these arrangements is to lessen the impact of a disability without affecting the academic value of the coursework and studies. What is important is the impact the disability or health condition has on the coursework, not the disability itself.

How do students access Disability Support?

To receive support and access to educational adjustments, students must be registered for Disability Services. A Disability Advisor assesses the level of support and adjustments required and if necessary, advise the student’s lecturers via a Letter of Support.

What is a Letter of Support? What do I need to do if I receive one?

Once a student has been assessed and approved for disability educational adjustments, they are emailed a Letter of Support which outlines what support is available to them. This is done annually, and students are instructed to give this letter to their lecturers so you are aware of what needs to be done to adjust their lessons to accommodate their disability. You should receive this in the first two weeks of first semester. The student may also ask to book an appointment to discuss their educational adjustments. If you have any questions about what is required of you or concerns about a particular student, please contact the unit on 02 9385 4734 or via email: disabilities@unsw.edu.au

Are students required to disclose their disability?

The student and Disability Advisor are not required to disclose the nature of the disability. Some disabilities will be obvious, but many disabilities are not visible. Here are some helpful guidelines for teaching students with a disability. What should I do if I think a student might have a disability? Not all students with disabilities register with Disability Services. Despite presenting with symptoms, some students have not been diagnosed with a disability. Some don’t need additional support and cope without any educational adjustments. Some aren’t aware education adjustments are available. If you have any questions or concerns about a student, please contact Disability Services and we can advise you.

What’s the difference between disability and special consideration?

Disability is defined as a chronic condition that will impair a student’s ability to complete their studies over the long-term where adjustments are required to the way they complete their education. The student’s right to request these adjustments is mandatory under Australian law. Special Consideration is defined as a major event that prevents students from completing the course assessments or exam, and is referred to as a “misadventure.” Misadventures can include a death in the family, a serious accident or an illness.

How does a student apply for special consideration?

If a student experiences a misadventure or is facing circumstances beyond their control (that are outside a disability) they can apply for special consideration so their claim can be reviewed and assessed and if required, given some flexibility in completing their course requirements.

The Special Consideration form that students need to complete is available by logging into MyUNSW and visiting: My Student Profile tab > My Student Services channel > Online Services > Special Consideration.

What inclusive teaching practices am I required to make to accommodate for students with a disability?

All lecturers have a responsibility to students experiencing a disability to:

  • Face the class and speak clearly.
  • Provide good quality print material so it can be more easily read by students using assistive technology due to a vision or learning disability. Ensure course materials are available several weeks in advance as it can take time for the student to re-format the materials to accommodate their disability.
  • Ensure course materials are clear and legible.
  • Upload presentation slides to Lectopia or Blackboard as soon as possible post-lecture.
  • Consider wheelchair access and students with a vision impairment when making bookings for buses and venues on excursions.

What is the Disability Action Plan?

The Disability Action Plan 2014 - 2018 (DAP) provides a framework to ensure equality of access across UNSW in Australia. By giving specific consideration to those with a disability, it enables all UNSW students and staff to achieve to their highest potential. it can be downloaded here. The DAP identifies a vision and intent for each of seven focus areas:

  • Policy and planning
  • Learning and teaching
  • Digital environment
  • Built environment
  • Support infrastructure
  • Campus life
  • Workplace environment
  • The DAP can be downloaded (.pdf) at this link.

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