What's reasonable?

What's Reasonable?

Children and young people in Australian education settings have differing needs, abilities and interests. Learning happens when teaching responds to these individual qualities.  As there is no single method of teaching that supports the learning of all students, education providers make adjustments to enable every student to participate in learning.

Many students, including students with disability, need adjustments to support their learning.

Under the Disability Standards for Education 2005, students with disability are entitled to reasonable adjustments to enable them to participate in education on the same basis as other students.

Adjustments enable students with disability or their parents or other associates to access education in a comparable way to other students by:

  • Applying and enrolling at a school or educational facility
  • Participating in the relevant learning activities, courses and educational programs
  • Using services and facilities.

An adjustment for one student can benefit others. For example, a visual timetable created for a child with communication difficulties could also assist other children to understand the classroom routine.

 

Read more - Planning for Personalised Learning and Support: A National Resource


Definitions
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Adjustments are actions taken to enable a student with disability to participate in education on the same basis as other students. This is fundamental to ensuring that students with disability do not experience discrimination. Depending on the circumstances, adjustments can be made to practices, services, policies or procedures in Australian educational settings.

On the same basis means that students with disability are provided with opportunities and choices that are comparable to those available to students without disability.

Reasonable adjustments are actions taken to enable students with disability to participate in education on the same basis as other students while balancing the interests of all parties.


Adjustments are made for each individual student


Story
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Ethan's maths class

Ethan is a Year 11 student with an information processing disability. As his subjects become more complex, he is becoming confused by activities that have many steps, such as maths operations. To meet his needs, several adjustments are being made by his school and a review plan is in place:

  • Teachers provide lesson outlines and graphic aids prior to each lesson.
  • All students, including Ethan, are permitted to use a calculator where appropriate.
  • Ethan’s maths teacher adds key words from the lesson to an index on the inside cover of Ethan's maths books.
  • The school plans to review the index system after a term to see if it assists Ethan, with a view to extending it to other subjects.

Reasonable Adjustments
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An adjustment is reasonable if it:

  • Supports a student with a disability to participate in education on the same basis as other students, AND
  • Takes into account the student’s learning needs, AND
  • Balances the interests, including safety, of all parties, such as the student with disability, staff members and other students.


In deciding whether an adjustment for a student with disability is reasonable, all relevant circumstances and information should be taken into account, including the:

  • Impact of the disability on the student’s learning, participation and independence
  • Views of the student with disability, or their associate, about their preferred adjustment
  • Impact of the adjustment on relevant parties, such as other students, staff members, the student’s family and the education provider
  • Costs and benefits of making the adjustment
  • Need to maintain the essential requirements of the course or program.


Reasonable adjustments should be made as soon as possible, to maximise the benefits for the student.

Adjustments: In Practice ...
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Examples of adjustments include:

  • Giving a student with low vision all necessary enrolment information in enlarged text
  • Providing extra sessions teaching key words for a student with an intellectual disability
  • Giving a speech-to-text device to a student with a broken arm to assist in preparing assignments
  • Providing speech pathology services for students with communication difficulties
  • Allowing a student with anxiety to present her project to a small group of peers rather than to a whole class
  • Adjusting activities at the annual swimming carnival to enable participation by all students, including those with physical disability
  • Adjusting seating arrangements so a student with a wheelchair has enough space to move independently around the classroom like other students
  • Making multiple accommodations if necessary to meet a single learner's needs. For example, learners who require a sign-language interpreter may also need a note-taker because watching an interpreter prevents them from taking detailed notes.


Read more - Inclusive Coaching
Read more - I can help Mac communicate!


Story
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Ava has anxiety

Ava is a Year 7 student with severe anxiety. Ava finds it almost impossible to speak up in class or make any presentations in front of an audience.  After consulting with her parents, Ava’s school has made the following adjustments:

  • Ava films herself making her in-class presentations at home, and submits this to the teacher.
  • Ava is allowed to carry a phone during the school day so that she can speak with her parents as needed.
  • The school has set up an online forum and Ava’s teachers encourage this method of discussion in addition to in-class discussions.

Did you know

 

Reasonable Adjustments are:

  1. Individual – because even if they have similar disabilities, each student is unique and has individual learning needs
  2. Flexible – because students’ needs and contexts change over time
  3. Agreed – because they balance the interests of all parties.

 


Question
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An enthusiastic learner, 9-year old Maria is deaf and uses Auslan to communicate. Her teacher would like to show videos in class but knows Maria wouldn't be able to hear the words. At a meeting with Maria and her carers, several adjustments are considered. Which adjustments are reasonable?

This is not reasonable as Maria's needs are not met. She would not be participating in the video lesson on the same basis as her classmates.

This is not reasonable as Maria's needs are not met. She would not be participating in the video lesson on the same basis as her classmates.

This is reasonable as everyone's needs are balanced. Maria can participate in the video lesson on the same basis as her classmates.

It is no longer necessary to make an adjustment for Maria, because the school has embraced the principle of universal design in regard to videos.


Definition
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Universal design principles assist educators to create flexible learning environments that are responsive to individual differences in learning. These changes may enhance the learning for any student, including students with disability. For example, if a school ensures all the videos in its libraries have subtitles, it may assist many students, including students with hearing impairments.


Spotlight
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Spotlight: Reasonable Adjustments

Adjustments are reasonable if they balance the needs of all parties.

A student with disability


I can expect:

  • Education providers will make reasonable adjustments when necessary to enable me to participate on the same basis as other students
  • My needs will be taken into account by my educators.

I can contribute by:

  • Clarifying my needs with staff
  • Participating in discussions to identify what adjustments would assist me.

A student without disability


I can expect:

  • Other students will have learning activities that are different from mine
  • Adjustments for students with disability will not be unfair to me.

I can contribute by:

  • Respecting that all students learn in different ways
  • Speaking up if I am affected by an adjustment made for another student.

A parent, carer or other associate
of a student with disability


I can expect:

  • To be involved in discussing reasonable adjustments for my child.

I can contribute by:

  • Participating in discussions about reasonable adjustments, including considering their impact on other students and staff.

A parent, carer or other associate
of a student without disability


I can expect:

  • That an adjustment made for a student with disability will not be unfair to my child.

I can contribute by:

  • Understanding that education providers make adjustments to enable everyone to participate in education
  • Discussing with staff any concerns I have about the impact of adjustments made for another student.

A parent, carer or other associate with disability


I can expect:

  • To be involved in discussing reasonable adjustments that will support my involvement as a parent in my child’s education.

I can contribute by:

  • Participating in discussions about reasonable adjustments for me, including considering their impact on other students and staff.


Summary
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Education providers make adjustments every day to meet the various needs of their different students. The Disability Standards for Education explain how to decide on adjustments for students with disability and how students and their associates can be involved in the decision-making.  An adjustment is reasonable when it is the product of consultation and seeks to balance the interests of all parties.