Disability Action Plan 2011-2013
Developed by the University Equity Committee 1999: Disability Action Plan 1999–2001
First review 2002: Disability Action Plan 2003–2005
Second review 2007: Disability Action Plan 2008–2010
Third review 2010: Disability Action Plan 2011–2013
1.2 Disability Standards for Education 2005
2. Definition of key terms
2.3 Reasonable adjustments
2.4 Unjustifiable hardship
- Objective 1 - Equitable Recruitment, Enrolment, Retention and Learning Opportunities
- Objective 2 - Equitable Employment Opportunities
- Objective 3 - Accessible and Inclusive University Environment
- Objective 4 - Promotion of Disability Action Plan and Inclusive Practices
Download a copy of the Disability Action Plan (Word 85KB).
The Disability Action Plan is guided by the principles of the Disability Standards in Education 2005 (Disability Discrimination Act 1992), which supports the fundamental right of students with disabilities to participate in all aspects of university life on the same basis as their peers.
The University of the Sunshine Coast is committed to supporting an institutional culture that enables equality of opportunity wherever possible and reasonable for all staff and students including those with disabilities. This commitment has already begun with the physical environment. All buildings and their surrounds are designed and developed to meet the access requirements of people with disabilities. The University aims to be at the forefront in providing access to reasonable adjustments so that people with disabilities can access facilities and services as independently as possible.
The purpose of the Disability Action Plan is to assist the University in providing equal access to quality education for the whole community; to improve the teaching and learning environment for students and staff; and to raise awareness of disability issues and responsibilities as a foundation for good practice in equitable service provision.
1.2 Disability Standards for Education 2005
The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) makes discrimination against people on the grounds of disability unlawful in specific areas of public life. These include the workplace, accommodation, education, access to premises, clubs and sport, and in the provision of goods, facilities, services and land. The DDA prohibits discrimination against any person, or their associates, on the grounds of actual or assumed disability.
The Disability Standards for Education (the Standards) sit as subordinate legislation under the DDA and came into effect in August 2005. The Standards specifically articulate the obligations of education and training providers under the DDA and the rights of people with disabilities when undertaking education and training. Detailed requirements set out in the Standards cover:
- curriculum development, accreditation and delivery
- student support services, and
- elimination of harassment and victimisation.
The Standards confirm that education providers are required to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that students with disabilities are able to participate in education on the same basis as other students, with equal opportunity to realise their individual potential.
The University of the Sunshine Coast recognises the DDA definition of disability. This encompasses temporary or permanent physical, intellectual, psychiatric, sensory, and neurological and learning disabilities as well as physical disfigurement and the presence in the body of organisms causing, or capable of causing, disease. It also includes a disability that presently exists, existed in the past, or may exist in the future, as well as a disability that is imputed or presumed to a person.
Discrimination refers to the less favourable treatment of one person over another because they have a disability - this is direct discrimination. Indirect discrimination may also occur in situations where a condition is imposed that students with a disability are unlikely to be able to comply with (for example, requiring a person with a speech impairment to undertake an oral assessment). The DDA specifies that discrimination can occur regardless of intention – behaviours that may be viewed as harmless or a joke, can be perceived as discrimination or harassment to those who find offence. Examples of this could be derogatory comments made in the course of a lecture, tutorial or interview; written derogatory comments by students or staff; or restrictive personnel practices.
Some exceptions to the Standards do exist. It is not unlawful to treat a person differently where it is reasonably intended to ensure they have equal opportunity, or if their condition may pose a risk to the health and welfare of themselves or others. A person must also be able to fulfil the “inherent requirements” as described to undertake a job or course of study, unless their inability can be overcome by making a “reasonable adjustment”.
2.3 Reasonable adjustments
Alternative arrangements or modifications are important for ensuring equal access and educational opportunity for students with disabilities. The University is required by law to make special arrangements for students wherever necessary and reasonable to do so without affecting the essential academic and technical standards of a course. Adjustments might include provision of adaptive equipment or software, changing course delivery or assessment procedures, or modification of premises.
2.4 Unjustifiable hardship
If a specific accommodation or modification would impose unreasonable hardship on the University, it is not legally bound to make that adjustment.
A number of factors are considered in determining unjustifiable hardship, including:
- the nature of the benefit (any benefits or disadvantages to others) or detriment likely to be experienced by any persons concerned
- the effect of the disability on the person concerned
- the financial circumstances and the estimated expenditure required to be made by the organisation claiming unjustifiable hardship, and
- in the case of services or facilities provision, an action plan given to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Unjustifiable hardship is assessed on a case-by-case basis by the Australian Human Rights Commission, following the principles established by the DDA.
The University of the Sunshine Coast is committed to ensuring equity of access, participation and success for students with disabilities, in a receptive and supportive environment.
Specific policies and procedures have direct application in promoting inclusive practice to all members of the University community, including:
- Students with a Disability Policy
- Inclusive and Non Discriminatory Language Policy and Guidelines
- Equity Policy
- Corporate Website Policy and Procedures
- University Health and Safety Policy
- Code of Conduct
- Student Conduct and Discipline Policy
- Discrimination and Harassment Policy and Procedures
- Student Grievances and Appeals Policy and Procedures.
This revised Disability Action Plan is designed to build upon the successes of the earlier documents. Consultation with the University and wider community determined that many actions in the previous Plan have been completed while others, by their nature, are ongoing. Areas of significant achievement include: information and assistive technology provision; professional development activities focusing on disability; improved web access for users of screen reading technology; extension of student support services. In addition, the requirement for new and innovative strategies to meet needs that have arisen as a result of the growth of the University was identified.
Following the review of strategies detailed in the 2003-2005 Action Plan, six stakeholder consultation activities were undertaken:
- annual surveying of all students who had identified as having a disability, and had utilised the University’s Disability Services between 2005 and 2010
- consultation with staff who had identified as having a disability
- a survey of academic staff from each faculty to report any known barriers to access or participation
meetings with support agencies and student organisations
- consultation with student accommodation providers
- consultation with student administration to report any known barriers to access or participation
Priority areas identified from the consultation process have been integrated under the current Disability Action Plan objectives. The Plan details the actions the University will take to implement the intent of the Disability Discrimination Act, the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee Guidelines (available on Universities Australia Website) relating to Students with a Disability (2006), and the revised Building Codes of Australia. Many recommendations address continuing issues such as accessible environments, staff employment, and inclusive teaching and assessment practices. Specific shorter-term actions and key performance indicators are contained in the Student Life and Learning Operational Plan. This Disability Action Plan retains the original emphasis of embedding equity practices in standard procedure to ensure that an inclusive environment and culture are generated.
Objective 1: Provide equitable recruitment, enrolment, retention and learning opportunities for people with disabilities
Indicator: Access, retention and success data for students with disabilities are comparable to or exceed national averages.
|1.1 Ensure information about academic support services is available and updated on the University web site, portal, and course outlines.||Disability Services Officer; Academic Skills Advisers; Manager, Office of L&T; Faculty L&T Coordinators/
|1.2 Provide information to career advisers, secondary schools, TAFE, and people with disabilities, on the University’s general support services for students with disabilities.
||Disability Services Officer; Manager, External Relations (M&C); National Disability Coordination Officer
information and resources
|1.3 Review current outreach programs with a view to targeting prospective students with disabilities.||Disability Services Officer; National Disability
Coordination Officer; Snr Project Officer, PVC
(Engagement); Manager, Admissions and Scholarships
|1.4 Review scholarship programs for students with disabilities to identify opportunities for creating new scholarships.||Manager, Admissions
and Scholarships; Disability Services Officer; Director, USC Foundation
|in annual budget cycle|
|1.5 Include criteria in student evaluations of course delivery that measures the performance of inclusive teaching practices.||Manager, Office of L&T||Semester SFCs|
|1.6 Continue to improve provision of course materials in alternative formats for students with disabilities (timeliness, accessibility).||Disability Services Officer; Examinations and Assessment Officer||ongoing|
|1.7 Ensure on-line learning materials and activities are accessible to students and staff with disabilities.||Manager, Office of L&T; e-Leap Coordinators; Faculty teaching staff; Executive Deans||evaluated|
|1.8 Provide accessible and accommodating enrolment practices.
Administration; Disability Services Officer
|1.9 Utilise flexible multi-modal teaching, and continue participation in national and international universal design projects.||Manager, Office of L&T; Disability Services Officer; Faculty teaching staff; Executive Deans||ongoing|
|1.10 Maximise compliance of the USC web pages and USC Central with W3C accessibility standards.
Director, Student Administration
Indicator: Recruitment and selection processes actively include people with disabilities. Annual increase in graduate employment outcomes for students with disabilities.
|2.1 Promote disability-related support and awareness services, policies and programs to staff with disabilities and to supervisors/managers.||Disability Services Officer; Human Resources Officer||Semester One|
|2.2 Provide developmental opportunities to meet the specific needs of staff with disabilities.||Disability Services Officer; Human Resources Officer||ongoing|
|2.3 Promote USC’s commitment as an EEO employer to prospective employees, particularly people with disabilities.||Human Resources
Officer; Indigenous Employment Coordinator
|2.4 Develop Career Services that enhance the employment outcomes of USC graduates with disabilities.||Careers and Employment Officers; Disability Services Officer; Indigenous Employment Coordinator||included in Employability workshops each semester|
|2.5 Develop practices to ensure students with disabilities have equitable opportunities to participate in workplace learning, industry and professional placements and fieldwork.||Industry Liaison
Officer; WIL and Field Ed Coordinators; Disability Services Officer
|2.6 Progress MOU with the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator programme to streamline recruitment of candidates and ensure that people with disability have access to appropriate employment opportunities, in inclusive workplaces.||Human Resources||MOU to March 2012|
Objective 3: Provide an accessible and inclusive university environment for people with disabilities
Indicator: Student evaluations report greater than 85% high satisfaction with building and facilities accessibility.
|3.1 Maintain and promote Library support services for students with disabilities.||Manager, Library Access and Research Services; Disability Services Officer; Student Equity and Diversity Officer||Ongoing|
|3.2 Provide training and support for students and staff with access to the Learning Connections Room facilities and resources.||Disability Services Officer; Student Equity and Diversity Officer||commencement|
|3.3 Conduct regular physical audits of the University campus to ensure accessibility of the built environment to people with disabilities.||Workplace Health
and Safety Officer (CPO); Disability Services Officer;
Student Equity and Diversity Officer
|3.4 Consult regularly with students and staff with disabilities to identify and address issues and service needs in relation to their access to facilities and services.||Disability Services Officer||annually|
|3.5 Ensure that graduation ceremonies provide for equal participation by people with disabilities.||Disability Services Officer;
Events and Ceremonies Officer (M&C)
|3.6 Prepare an annual priority list for upgrading of facilities.||Disability Services Officer;
Director, Student Life and Learning
|review and update annually|
|3.7 Review emergency evacuation procedures to ensure the needs of staff and students with disabilities are met and ensure that staff are aware of these.||Security (CPO); Workplace Health and Safety Officer (CPO); Disability Services Officer; Student Equity and
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Objective 4: Promote the disability action plan and inclusive practices to all members of the university community
Indicator: Increased awareness and incorporation of inclusive practices in the provision of all university services and curriculum.
|4.1 Ensure reference to the USC Students with a Disability Policy, related policies and procedures, and the Disability Action Plan are included in staff induction.||Human Resources
Officer; All staff supervisors; Associate Deans; Manager, Office of L&T
|4.2 A copy of the Disability Action Plan will be provided to all university faculties, departments and administrative units.||Disability Services Officer||triennially|
|4.3 The Disability Action Plan will be made available on the USC website.||Director, Student Life and Learning||ongoing|
|4.4 Continue to provide professional development opportunities for staff to enhance their knowledge and understanding about disabilities.||Disability Services Officer; Human Resources
Officer; Manager, Office of L&T; Student Equity and
|4.5 Register the Disability Action Plan with the Australian Human Rights Commission.||Director, Student Life and Learning||triennially|