Policy Academic Governance Student Disability Reasonable Adjustments Procedure

Student Disability Reasonable Adjustments Procedure

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This Procedure supports the Student Disability Policy to provide guidance and direction to staff and affiliates of James Cook University (JCU) who support, educate and interact with students and prospective students with a disability who choose to participate in higher education at JCU. This Procedure also supports existing JCU policy and procedure in admitting, teaching, assessing and supporting students or prospective students across the University.


This Procedure applies to staff and affiliates of JCU located physically or virtually at the Australian Tropical Campuses of the University.

Students seeking reasonable adjustments and disability support should refer to the Student Disability AccessAbility Support and Plans Procedure.


Except where otherwise indicated in this procedure, the definitions used in this procedure are found in the Policy Glossary or the Student Disability Policy

Reasonable Adjustments – an adjustment is reasonable in relation to a student with a disability if it balances the interests of all parties affected.


Higher education providers in Australia must provide reasonable adjustments to prospective students seeking to study at JCU and those admitted to a course offered by JCU.

A prospective, commencing or continuing student’s right to a reasonable adjustment is legislatively enshrined in the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) and supported through regulatory frameworks including the Disability Standards for Education 2005, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Queensland Human Rights Commission.


1. Enquiries from prospective students

Staff and affiliates will support admission and enrolment enquiries from prospective students (or their carer) seeking admission to a course offered by JCU and who have a disability, injury or health condition.

Upon receiving an enquiry from a prospective student with a disability (referred to hereafter in this Procedure as “students”), staff will direct the student to review the course inherent requirements and to contact AccessAbility Services for information and advice on reasonable adjustments applicable to their preferred course.

2. Consideration of Access Plans

To assess and implement reasonable adjustments, staff will undertake the actions and exercise the delegations set out in Table 1.

Table 1: Staff actions in assessing an application for reasonable adjustments:


Staff responsible

Usual time frame (unless another timeframe is agreed with the student

Meet with the student for an assessment and review of impacts of disability/injury/health condition, followed by identification of potential reasonable adjustments to allow inclusive participation in education.

AccessAbility Advisor

Within 7 University working days (UWD) of the first student contact

Develop an Access Plan (if required) with recommended reasonable adjustments to allow inclusive participation in education, and submit to all relevant parties including the Course Coordinator, Student, Subject Coordinator and Exam Adjustments.

AccessAbility Advisor

Within 3 UWD of meeting with the student or submission of final supporting documents

Assess the request or recommendation and determine whether the adjustment is reasonable (see guidelines and procedure below) and appropriate to the course or program.

Course Coordinator (in consultation with Subject Coordinator and/or Placement Coordinator) - delegated decision-maker

Within 10 UWD of receiving the initial Access Plan

Respond to AccessAbility and/or the student if alternatives are recommended and/or the adjustments cannot be reasonably implemented.

The response should be in writing and/or a request made for a meeting if required (AccessAbility and/or the student).

The student can request a meeting with the relevant academic if required (see Student Procedure).

Course Coordinator or Placement Co-Ordinator (for placement adjustments) – delegated decision-maker

Within 10 UWD of receiving the initial Access Plan

If a student makes a reasonable adjustment request directly to a Subject Coordinator (outside of an AccessAbility Services Access Plan), the Subject Coordinator can, with the approval of the Course Coordinator, either make a determination or refer the student to AccessAbility Services.

Subject Coordinator

Within 5 UWD of a request from the student

Determine that a reasonable adjustment will impose unjustifiable hardship on the University

College Dean, Dean, Graduate Research School, or Dean Centre for Education and Enhancement – delegated decision maker.

As soon as practicable

3. Determining reasonable adjustments

The Disability Standards for Education 2005 (Cth) requires that, in assessing whether a particular adjustment for a student is reasonable, regard should be had to all the relevant circumstances and interests, including:

  • The impact of the disability on the student’s ability to achieve learning outcomes, participation in courses or programs and independence;
  • Views of the student with disability, or their advocate, about their preferred adjustment;
  • Impact of the proposed adjustment on relevant affected parties, including the University, other students, and staff);
  • Costs and benefits of making the adjustment; and
  • If alternate adjustments can be identified and offered that are no less beneficial for the student.

In assessing whether an adjustment to the course or program in which the student is enrolled, or proposes to be enrolled, is reasonable, the Course Coordinator is entitled to maintain the academic requirements of the subject, course or program, and other requirements or components that are inherent in or essential to its nature.

4. Universal Design for Learning

When assessing requests for reasonable adjustment/s, staff should give consideration to Universal Design for Learning principles where possible, such that:

  • Consideration of whether course content can be adjusted to support participation by all enrolled students (universal design) including students with a disability. For example, by using alternative modes or mediums of content delivery such as lecture recordings, transcriptions, enlarged learning materials or videos;
  • Consideration of whether course content can be assessed in alternative ways while meeting learning outcomes. For example, allowing a student with hearing impairment to prepare a written assessment instead of providing an oral presentation;
  • Consideration of whether learning outcomes can be met in accessible ways through inclusive curriculum design. For example, by designing laboratory activities in multi-modal formats to support students with low vision to participate fully with the necessary supports in place

5. Unjustifiable hardship

A determination that a reasonable adjustment is refused based on unjustifiable hardship is not an academic decision relating to the integrity of the learning outcomes. It is a financial decision that takes all relevant circumstances into account, including:

(a) the nature of the benefit or detriment likely to accrue or be suffered by any persons concerned; and

(b) the effect of the disability of a person concerned; and

(c) the financial circumstances and the estimated amount of expenditure required to be made by JCU when claiming unjustifiable hardship.

The College Dean, Dean, Graduate Research School, or Dean, Centre for Education and Enhancement, will review the proposed Access Plan seeking reasonable adjustments where the Course Coordinator has recommended those adjustments would cause unjustifiable hardship for JCU to implement, and make the final determination on the matter.

6. Right of review

In communicating any determination to a student under this Procedure, the decision-maker will provide written reasons for their decision along with a notification that any student remaining dissatisfied with the decision can make a complaint under the Student Complaints Policy.

Related policy instruments

Student Disability Policy

Special Consideration Procedure

Student Complaints Policy




NOTE:  Printed copies of this procedure are uncontrolled, and currency can only be assured at the time of printing.

Approval Details

Policy DomainAcademic Governance

Policy Sub-domain

Student Experience

Policy Custodian

Deputy Vice Chancellor, Education

Approval Authority

Academic Board

Date for next Major Review


Revision History


Approval date

Implementation date



23-223/02/202323/02/2023Table 1 amended to clarify distribution of Access Plan to relevant parties (second line).

Manager, Learning Development




Procedure established.

Manager, Learning Development


Access, Disabled, Disability, Health Condition, AccessAbility, Accessibility, reasonable adjustment, inherent requirements

Contact person

Manager, Learning Development