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Reasonable Adjustments: Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

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 who have learning disabilities that impact upon their ability to study may benefit from a range of inclusive teaching and assessment strategies.  Some strategies that are frequently used for students who have learning disabilities include:

  • Understanding the limitations of what can be provided in a public space and the rights of other students and staff. The Disability Service may make requests of others, but cannot enforce rules regarding use of scented personal products. Students with MCS need to acknowledge that they understand that while efforts will be made to reduce exposure, risk cannot be completely eliminated.
  • Work to minimise time and exposure to scented products etc on campus through use of online learning, blended learning and by taking advantage of flipped classroom programs where available. With planning, exposure can be minimised.
  • Where a student only attends campus sporadically because they use flexible study modes, notice of attendance could be provided by the student so that risk can be minimised if possible.
  • Designation of a restroom proximate to the student’s most commonly used study area as fragrance free.
  • Use of alternative exam venues as where others are requested to refrain from wearing perfumes and aerosol fragrances to exams. An individual room may be able to be provided, with as little plastic, printed paper and new furnishings as possible.
  • Assistance and support from fellow students to limit their use of perfumed products in classes were the affected student is enrolled could be requested by the education or training provider.
  • Additional exhaust fan in rooms where student takes classes may be able to be installed.
  • Additional exhaust fans in bathrooms where aerosol air fresheners are removed may be able to be installed.
  • Encouragement to sit near a door or window where for fresh air if needed and distance can be gained from others who may be wearing scented products.
  • ‘Flare-ups’ in the student’s condition could be accommodated in the same way that other episodic disabilities/chronic health conditions are managed, such as with extensions to assessment requirements. Evidence, such a medical certificate would need to be provided in accordance with the policy of the university or registered training organisation.

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, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity in the Education and Training Setting. Accessed on July 20 2016 from adcet.edu.au/disability-practitioner/reasonable-adjustments/disability-specific-adjustments/multiple-chemical-sensitivity/
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