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. One example is audio-recording of lectures.
How does it work?
To be eligible for individual reasonable adjustments you need to have had an autism diagnosis and to have told your university about your autism.
You will need to discuss your support needs with a Disability Adviser from the university’s Disability and Dyslexia Support Service (DDSS).
It is important that you are actively involved in the process of identifying your support needs as well as in making decisions regarding reasonable adjustments that work for you.
With your consent, information about your support needs, including reasonable adjustments, will be shared with your academic department. Ideally, you will discuss this information with an academic from the course you are studying.
How could this affect me?
Some students worry that having reasonable adjustments in place will mean that they are treated differently to other students. Some students might worry that other people will only focus on what they find challenging about university, and not their academic skills.
The vast majority of students decide that they do want information relating to their support needs to be shared with staff within their academic department, as this helps to ensure that they are able to perform academically to the best of their abilities and get the most from their time at university.
The university’s Disability and Dyslexia Support Service will share your information on a ‘need to know basis’. This means that the information will be given to the tutors and staff in your academic department who are likely to have contact with you during your course.
What to do next?
Arrange a meeting with disability support and your course leader
The disability team is there to support you, but they won’t know the academic requirements of your course so it’s important that you, your disability adviser and your academic department are able to collaborate in order to identify and negotiate reasonable adjustments that work for you individually.
The disability adviser and academic department will focus on learning outcomes and, where necessary, think with you to identify alternative ways for you to evidence your knowledge and understanding.
Use the Autism&Uni Best Practice Guides as support.
Reply promptly to all communications regarding your reasonable adjustments, to ensure support is put in place when it’s needed.
Negotiations about your support might take some time so it’s important to let the disability service know as soon as you think you need support for your course.
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/