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Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training
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Reasonable Adjustments: Mental Health

Reasonable adjustments refer to a “measure or action taken to assist a student with disability to participate in education and training on the same basis as other students”1 They are designed to place students with disability on a more equal footing, and not to give them any kind of advantage.

Reasonable adjustments made for a student with disability must maintain the academic integrity of the qualification and not cause a health or safety risk for another student(s) or negatively impact upon the learning experience of another student(s).

Adjustments are negotiated to meet the needs of the individual student, this is predominantly done through a Disability Practitioner within the institution the student attends. They commonly include the following.

To accommodate individual students:

Students with mental health conditions may benefit from a range of inclusive teaching and assessment strategies.  Some adjustments that are frequently used for students with mental health conditions include:

  • Clarification of attendance expectations and procedures for absence.
  • Clarification of behavioural norms.
  • Provision of a peer mentor.
  • Access to flexible delivery methods such as online learning, blended learning and flipped classroom programs (where available) to provide flexible options that accommodate fluctuations in conditions.
  • Provision of reading lists that highlight what are the essential texts and what are extension reading.
  • Individual orientation to laboratories, workshops, studios and computer systems to reduce anxiety.
  • Feedback on assignments given verbally in private rather than in writing.
  • Recording of lectures if attention, memory and/or attendance is affected by medication.
  • Video recording of oral presentation tasks or presentation one-on-one with a lecturer or tutor.
  • Where lectures or tutorial sessions are presented more than once in a week, access prioritised for sessions times that are least affected by medication.
  • Additional time in exams.
  • Provision of an alternative exam venue that is free of distractions or take home exams.
  • Modified exam papers that present lengthy questions in bullet points and minimise multiple choice questions.
  • Postponement of assessments or suspension of enrolment without penalty if a student experiences a severe episode of their mental health condition.

References

1 Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) 2013. Student Diversity. Accessed on July 21 2016 from australiancurriculum.edu.au/studentdiversity/students-with-disability
Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training, Identifying Student Requirements and Making Reasonable Adjustments.  Accessed on July 20 2016 from adcet.edu.au/inclusive-teaching/working-with-students/making-reasonable-adjustments/
Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training, Mental Health Condition. Accessed July 23, 2016 from adcet.edu.au/inclusive-teaching/specific-disabilities/mental-health-condition/
Queensland VET Development Centre (2010), Reasonable adjustment in teaching, learning and assessment for students with a disability.  A guide for VET practitioners.  Queensland Government.  Accessed on July 20, 2016 from adcet.edu.au/download/attachment/7383-1