AccessAbility policies and resources
AccessAbility Action Plan
University of Newcastle has an AccessAbility Action Plan 2015 – 2020 that outlines how the university provides access for students, staff and visitors with a disability.
The AccessAbility Action Plan is about “improving the access and success of staff and students who experience disability” and includes the relevant legal and regulatory framework that underpins our support for students with disability including the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Definition of Disability.
Definition of Disability
The definition of 'disability' under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) is broad. It includes physical, intellectual, psychiatric, sensory, neurological and learning disabilities. Disability can be permanent or temporary. It includes some conditions not usually thought of as disabilities.
- total or partial loss of physical or mental functions (e.g. a person who has quadriplegia, a broken leg, epilepsy, a brain injury or a vision or hearing impairment)
- total or partial loss of part of the body (e.g. a person who has had an amputation)
- infectious and non-infectious diseases and illnesses (e.g. a person who has hepatitis or a person with allergies)
- the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of a person's body (e.g. a person with diabetes or asthma, or a person with a birthmark or scar)
- a condition causing a person to learn differently from other people (e.g. a person with autism, dyslexia, or an intellectual disability)
- a condition that affects a person's thought processes, understanding of reality, emotions or judgment, or that results in disturbed behaviour (e.g. a person with a mental illness, neurosis, or personality disorder)
- a condition that exists now, existed in the past, or may exist in the future (including having a genetic predisposition to that disability)
- a condition that is attributed to a person (e.g. a presumption that a person experiences disability)
- behaviour that is a symptom or manifestation of a disability (e.g. bodily movements caused by Parkinson's disease or behaviours of concern related to mental ill-health).
An important and relevant resource is the Australian Human Rights Commission which includes information specific to disability rights.
University of Newcastle Policies
Supporting Students with a Disability Policy outlines a framework for students with disability and aims to promote equality, awareness, understanding, inclusion, access and participation.
Supporting our students with disability also includes understanding the Inherent Requirements of a program or course. Students need to meet the inherent requirements to successfully complete the program of study. The University of Newcastle is committed to making reasonable adjustments to teaching, learning, assessment, placement and other activities to enable students’ to participate in and complete their program of study. However, reasonable adjustments must not fundamentally change the nature of the inherent requirements of the program.
Teaching and learning
University of Newcastle programs and courses need to be designed to be inclusive and accessible for all students including those students with disability. Through incorporating the student’s Reasonable Adjustment Plan and designing our programs and courses in relation to inclusive practice principles we will better meet the needs of our students.
The four staff guides complement the student Reasonable Adjustment Plan and provide teaching staff with further information about how best to incorporate reasonable adjustments into the course.
- Assessment and Adjustments
- Classroom Support and Adjustments
- Placement and Adjustments
- School-Based Tests and Adjustments
*Please note that reasonable adjustments for formal examinations are arranged by Exams.
The Disability Information Sheets provide teaching staff with detailed information about making reasonable adjustments in their practice in relation to specific disabilities or medical conditions.
- Acquired Brain Injury
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Blind and Vision Impaired
- Deaf and Hard of Hearing
- Learning Disability
- Medical Conditions
- Mental Health Condition
- Physical Disability
Student Registration and Disclosure of Disability
Students with disability are required to register with AccessAbility each year so that a Reasonable Adjustment Plan can be developed for them in partnership with a Student Support Advisor – AccessAbility. Students are then expected to communicate their Reasonable Adjustment Plan with each Course Coordinator so that reasonable adjustments can be made in the course.
Teaching staff need to encourage students with disability to register with AccessAbility and to then remind students to disclose their Reasonable Adjustment Plan with each Course Coordinator. It would be recommended that teaching staff include a Blackboard Announcement in the program and course site about the registration and disclosure process for students with disability.
This Student Wellbeing Services flyer provides information about the key support available to students at University of Newcastle.
Some students with disability will have difficulty accessing course materials and resources such as printed, online and spoken information, and will therefore require these resources in an alternative format. This may be due to:
- Impaired vision or blindness
- Hearing loss or deafness
- Disabilities that affect the processing of information (learning disabilities, psychiatric illness, cognitive or intellectual disabilities)
- Physical disabilities that affect the person’s ability to hold or manipulate printed materials
Teaching staff need to consider designing and creating accessible materials and resources in programs and courses. Many access difficulties can be addressed by providing accessible resources in a range of formats.
Please refer to the Creating Accessible Resources tip sheet for further information about creating accessible course materials and resources, and the Adaptive Technology Guidelines that includes information about the service provided by the Adaptive Technology Centre to academics needing to convert course materials for students with disability.
Inclusive Teaching Practice
The Disability Standards for Education and Universities Australia has specific guidelines relating to students with disability and state that, “curricula should be inclusive and student centred, taking account of the diversity of student needs; and the delivery and assessment of courses should be inclusive and enable students with a disability to demonstrate equitably the achievement of learning outcomes”. It is important for academic staff to be aware of inclusive practice principles and to incorporate these principles into curriculum design.
The Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET) provides information and resources relating to inclusive course design and teaching practice for students with disability.
Universal Design for Teaching
The Centre for Universal Design refers to Universal Design as “a design concept that can be applied to concrete things, to intellectual activities such as designing learning programs, and to conceptual things such as policies and practices.” Universal Design can be applied to education as a way to provide more inclusive teaching practice and program and course design that meets the needs of students with disability.
The Centre for Universal Design has an online course that you can complete if you would like to learn more about inclusive teaching practice.
If you would like support and advice in incorporating inclusive practice in your curriculum design, please contact AccessAbility.
The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.