For students with a disability, it is important to find out about disability support services provided by the institution of their choice prior to enrolment. This ensures an awareness of educational supports that are available if and when you choose to disclose your disability.
Students may choose to disclose to staff in disability support services at University or TAFE or directly to Faculty or Course Information Officers.
What to expect from educational institutions:
- education providers are obliged to ensure that prospective students with disabilities are not discriminated against in seeking admission and enrolment
- providers have an obligation to make reasonable adjustments, where necessary, to ensure that prospective students with disabilities are able to be considered for enrolment and complete enrolment processes without discrimination. This a requirement of the Disability Standards for Education (2005) (opens in a new window)
- educational institutions have a role in promoting disability support services to all students or prospective students
- educational providers are obliged to ensure that all staff involved in enrolment processes are trained in understanding and implementing non-discriminatory practices
- institutions are responsible for providing appropriate services if students disclose a disability at the time of enrolling
- educational institutions are responsible for ensuring that the academic and practical requirements of each course are clearly articulated to enable students with a disability to consider their needs for any reasonable adjustments in relation to their disability and their chosen course
- course coordinators or heads of school need to ensure that the core requirements for registration with appropriate professional or authorising bodies is made available. This information needs to be made freely available for all prospective students
- it is important to know that Universities, TAFEs and other tertiary institutions must ensure that students with a disability receive non-discriminatory treatment. This includes the provision of appropriate educational adjustments. This is a requirement of the Disability Discrimination Act (1992) (opens in a new window)
Disability support services
Disability support services are specifically set up within TAFE and university environments to provide information, support and practical assistance to students with a disability.
When a student contacts the disability support service, all personal information such as information about their disability will remain confidential. Personal information about students will not be given to others without their written consent.
Disclosure to disability support service staff at the commencement of study allows for the timely development, in consultation with the student, of an individual educational plan that identifies the need for any or all of the following components:
- academic support workers (e.g. notetakers, personal readers, tutors, classroom participation assistants, interpreters)
- alternative examination and assignment arrangements (e.g. scribe, reader, additional time)
- alternative format materials and equipment (e.g. large print, assisted hearing devices, voice activated software, furniture)
- enrolment and campus orientation
- physical access to facilities
- referral to community support services
- other services and support specific to the course requirements
Disability support staff also act as advocates in implementing education related adjustments in the study environment on behalf of the student. This is particularly relevant for students who have a hidden disability and may require education related adjustments but would prefer not to disclose their disability to teaching staff. It helps to contact the disability support service staff at your chosen institution as soon as possible.
What to expect from Disability Support Services
To meet with students and discuss:
- study options, education related adjustments and support structures
- responsibilities in accessing these services if they require them
- choices of disclosing their disability in the education environment, such as if and when to disclose and to whom to disclose to, and the associated rights and responsibilities.
It is the responsibility of the disability support officer to keep all information confidential, unless the student has provided written consent to have information disclosed and to be non-intrusive and respectful of the student's right to privacy.
Disclosure of disability specific information to disability support staff is required for support services to be successfully implemented in the education institution. Disability information is required for the disability officer to work with the student to:
- assess the needs of the student based on the impact of their disability on study
- identify, implement and evaluate the education related adjustments required
- provide disability education, training and awareness for academic and general staff
- design, implement and monitor support plans
Faculty and Course Information Officers
Faculty or Course Information Officers tend to be available to prospective students to discuss course content and requirements. Students with disabilities may choose to disclose to these staff members to determine whether they can meet the course requirements, practical components of the course and professional requirements.
Counselling staff can provide valuable support to students with a disability. They can provide assistance with developing and tailoring individual educational plans with students, provide referrals to other services for specific needs, assist students considering disclosing a disability to others and information about educational programs.
Disclosure directly to a teacher can also alert teaching staff to the many different ways in which students with a disability approach learning and the various options available which may assist them.