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Reasonable adjustments

Disability Rights UK have created this short video which gives an overview of the Equality Act 2010 and some examples of reasonable adjustments.

The Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) is a duty on public authorities including universities, to consider or think about how their policies or decisions affect people who are protected under the Equality Act (disability is a protected characteristic).

When public authorities carry out their functions, the Equality Act says they must have due regard or think about the need to:

  • eliminate unlawful discrimination
  • advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who don’t
  • foster or encourage good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who don’t.

Having due regard means public authorities must consciously consider their need to do the three things set out in the PSED.

What is meant by advancing equality of opportunity?

Some groups of people who share a protected characteristic, like disability, race or sexual orientation, may suffer a particular disadvantage or have particular needs.

The PSED means public authorities must think about whether they should take action to meet these needs or reduce the inequalities. In doing this, public authorities are allowed to treat some groups more favourably than others.

The Equality Act says public authorities should think about the need to:

  • remove or reduce disadvantages suffered by people because of a protected characteristic
  • meet the needs of people with protected characteristics
  • encourage people with protected characteristics to participate in public life and other activities.

If a public authority hasn’t properly considered its PSED, they can be legally challenged and the courts can decide if enough has been done by the public authority.

Disability Rights UK have put together this factsheet about adjustments for students which may be helpful when considering the reasonable adjustments you could make to support disabled students in your classes.

Below you will find a list of reasonable adjustments for students that you might like to consider. The list is not exhaustive, and please do get in contact with the Disability Support teams (Inclusion team or SpLD team) if you are unsure or if you would like any further information.

Training around reasonable adjustments is coming soon and will be advertised via the usual Staff Development channels.

Physical access
Library and Learning Services offer
Support from tutors, faculty and Academic Registry
Specialised individual or group support

All staff whether academic or support, are in a unique position as they develop learning partnerships with the students they are teaching or working with.

A student may tell you about a disability or health condition that is impacting on their student experience but might insist that they do not want the information passed on, which is their right.

While we respect those rights, we need to be aware of legal responsibilities too. Once a student has told any member of staff that they have a disability, the University is “deemed to know” so action must be taken so we aren’t in breach of the Equality Act 2010.

Most students agree to be referred to the support teams on campus and if this is the case you can do this by contacting the teams using the details below. But what happens if they don’t want to get support, and they don’t want to formally tell the University about their health?

In these cases it is important to explain that their decision may limit the reasonable adjustments which are available to support their achievement. If the student is still sure that they want the information kept confidential, the Office for the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) recommends that this is noted on the student’s file and confirmed in an email to the student. If you are the person they have told and they have explicitly told you they do not want you to share this information, please ensure you send them an email (you can download a template to use by clicking the link).

The student may change their mind about telling the University at any stage of their studies and if they do, a referral can be made to the appropriate team for support.

NB. There may be occasions where you can still make a reasonable adjustment without telling other staff or services. For example, if the student needed a handout in larger font or to be given a reading list in advance. You can still provide some limited support to the student but also keep their personal information confidential by making these simple, small changes informally.

Contact the Disability Support teams in Catalyst if you need any advice about supporting disabled students. You can always ask us for advice without giving us the student’s details if they have asked to remain anonymous. ext 7568 (01695 657568) ext 7526 (01695 657526)

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