The University of the Sunshine Coast will provide support and assistance to any student whose participation at university is adversely affected by the impact of a disability. We aim to provide support which is tailored to the needs of each student.
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) makes it unlawful for an educational authority such as a university to discriminate on the grounds of a person's disability by:
- refusing or failing to accept an application for admission as a student or in the terms and conditions on which it is prepared to admit the person as a student
- denying or limiting access, to any benefit provided by the educational authority or expelling the student or subjecting the student to any other detriment.
The Disability Standards for Education 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 areas including:
- curriculum development, accreditation and delivery, and
- student support services
Exceptions to these provisions are only allowed if the student with a disability requires services or facilities which would impose unjustifiable hardship on the university or if participation in higher education would prove to be a risk to the student or others.
Different treatment of people with disabilities is not unlawful where it is reasonably intended to ensure that they have equal opportunities or to meet their special needs. Harassment on the basis of disability is unlawful in employment, education and in the provision of goods and services.
Anti-discrimination law uses the concept of "reasonable accommodation" to ensure equal treatment in practice for people with a disability.
The concept of reasonable accommodation, or adjustment, includes campus design, the provision of equipment and access, and study course design.
Applying the concept means that academic and professional staff, wherever it is necessary, possible and reasonable to do so, take into account a student's disability and make appropriate adjustments to the learning environment to lessen the impact of the disability.
The DDA allows for exemptions from making such accommodations in cases of unjustifiable hardship for the institution. In determining what constitutes unjustifiable hardship, all relevant circumstances of the particular case will be taken into account. These will include the financial circumstances and the estimated amount of expenditure required to be made by the educational institution.
The Disability Standards for Education (2005) state "in assessing whether an adjustment to the course of the course or program in which the student is enrolled, or proposes to be enrolled, is reasonable," the university "is entitled to maintain the academic requirements of the course or program, and other requirements or components that are inherent in or essential to its nature."