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Disability - reasonable adjustments

(31 Posts)
IamtheDevilsAvocado Mon 07-Dec-15 16:25:07

Posting here for traffic:

Partner at uni. Has registered disability and in receipt of benefits.

He often needs more time to hand essays in as a result of his disability. This is all agreed with the university disability office team.

The department where he studies are being difficult about this saying it will make a precedent for other students. hmm

Surely this can't be if he has this under reasonable adjustments within the EA?

Any legal people here tell him what he should say?


honeysucklejasmine Mon 07-Dec-15 16:29:25

I would tell his department to refer themselves to the disability office, who can explain why they are so wrong. Does he have a personal tutor who can act as an advocate, as it were?

howtorebuild Mon 07-Dec-15 16:32:08

Let them sort out their internal politics themselves and do as agreed with UDOT.

IamtheDevilsAvocado Mon 07-Dec-15 17:05:15

No-one seems to want to intervene.

Disability office says this is what you should be doing... His department (Inc tutor) just won't comply... So partner is in the middle of it...

I was wondering if there was a one line legal type phrase he could say to them...?

IamtheDevilsAvocado Mon 07-Dec-15 17:08:29

No-one seems to want to intervene.

Disability office says this is what you should be doing... His department (Inc tutor) just won't comply... So partner is in the middle of it...

I was wondering if there was a one line legal type phrase he could say to them...?

LaurieFairyCake Mon 07-Dec-15 17:12:40

Go and see the welfare officer or one of the student union officers. They will intervene for him.

TinklyLittleLaugh Mon 07-Dec-15 17:26:11

"Make a precedent", surely they have had disabled students who need extra time before?

TiredButFineODFOJ Mon 07-Dec-15 17:39:38

Have a read of
Ask the NUS to intervene.

Yes it should set a precedent-that disabled students get appropriate support!

Not on at all.

IamtheDevilsAvocado Mon 07-Dec-15 18:09:36

Thanks for response so far!

Situation is pretty rubbish as has deadlines coming up this side of Christmas - the stress isn't helping the disability he has either!

JeanneDeMontbaston Mon 07-Dec-15 18:22:24

This sounds really hard.

I wonder if maybe the disability office isn't communicating properly with the department?

I teach students with disabilities (and I was one myself), but occasionally I find the disability office has merrily told students that x or y will happen, without actually checking that it's a reasonable adjustment, or even something we can do.

To give you an example, recently I had a student who'd been told they were entitled to 1) a verbatim transcript of my lecture, 2) a summary of the content of each lecture at the beginning of term and 3) the handouts emailed to them. The third requirement was easy - the other two were really not, because most lecturers don't speak from transcripts (ie., no transcript exists), and because I didn't know what each lecture would contain until quite soon before I gave it, because I tailored it to the needs of the students in the room.

It was quite easy to explain this to the student and to provide alternative support - but it did make clear that there can be miscommunications even when everyone is keen to help.

I do see that the situation here may be very different, but I mention it because it brought home to me how easily people might promise something that seems obviously possible to them, which actually isn't appropriate.

Aside from precedent, what is their argument? Are they providing any alternative support? Can they justify what they're doing, and can they show they are being fair to him?

I'd start in by asking that. It may be you get nowhere - and there's only a small chance it's something like my situation, where there's been a genuine miscommunication somewhere - but if nothing else, their response should show clearly whether or not they recognise he deserves a level playing field.

NotMeNotYouNotAnyone Mon 07-Dec-15 18:49:21

If the only reason they're giving is not want to set a precedent of supporting disabled students (wtf?) then it doesn't sound like one of the very reasonable issues that PP had to not comply and need to arrange an alternative.

Yes to getting university welfare to intervene if the disabilities office won't. Can your DP speak to any of the lecturers to see how they feel about it?

Russellgroupserf Mon 07-Dec-15 18:55:55

Universities can be incredibly dreadful at communication between departments. Has your DH given permission for a disclosure to other departments of his disability to the disability team?

He also needs to make all requests by email to leave a trail, it shouldn't have to be like that but after a quarter of a century working in higher education it is the only way and I always did this.

Sometimes departments are run like mini fiefdoms and people make it up as they go along or they have never bothered to keep up with the student handbook and still thinks it's the same as in 1989.

Russellgroupserf Mon 07-Dec-15 18:57:51

The last dept I worked in were actually very good at keeping up with legislation and the student handbook but a couple of other departments did just seem to make it up.

Youremywifenow Mon 07-Dec-15 19:02:46

He should have a PLP (personal learning plan) which sets out what his requirements are. I'm sure all unis use this system, mine does and sometimes the student already has one from school. Our disability office forwards them all to us.
Sometimes this allows extra time for essays if he needs them because of his disability - not all disabilities need this but it sounds like he has had an assessment which says he does so he just needs to show them this.
It isn't always automatic and sometimes needs to be discussed with his tutor - I can grant extensions to students with a PLP.
If he gets no joy, see the Student Support Officer for his faculty and get them to kick off on his behalf. Student Union can also help him with this, they generally have a disability officer.

sashh Mon 07-Dec-15 19:45:08

I had a situation like this.

I ended up with £20K.

He needs to put a formal letter in to the dean asking for the reasonable adjustments as outlined by the disability officer and for written reasons for why the the 'adjustment is unreasonable' - it has nothing to do with other students, some students I teach can use the lift but only because they can't use the stairs. It's the same thing, if your dp cannot climb stairs it is irrelevant whether another student would like to use the lift, their feelings are irrelevant. The same principle applies to handing in essays.

Universities are public bodies which means that as well as not discriminating they have to actively look for ways to reduce discrimination - look up "equality duty".

IamtheDevilsAvocado Mon 07-Dec-15 20:04:08

He has a university learning support agreement that says he can have extra time because of disability - he has mobility and other illnesses. The stress is worsening his health in general... I'm very annoyed about it!

He's quite good about keeping an email trail which is good!

It seems that they are worried that non-disabled people might see his extra time as something they may rather like... That if they 'give in' to this then everyone will want it... (yes it seems that their reasoning is that mad..)

Thanks for all the replies really helpful...

So should he say something like? :

'this is not a precedent, this is about making it a level playing field for me as a person with disability '

I'm really at sea with this...

IamtheDevilsAvocado Mon 07-Dec-15 20:05:42

PS no there is no alternative support has been offered.
They just don't want to give him the extra time...

suchafuss Mon 07-Dec-15 20:37:22

In my experience Disability Services do all they can but some lecturers just refuse to cooperate. I too have a mobility problem and type1 diabetes and so explained that I may on occasion struggle to get to his class on time. Dispite D services speaking to him he would not allow me into class late dispite being fully aware of my circumstances.

Senpai Mon 07-Dec-15 20:43:58

My go to tactic is to get a piece of paper, type up something official sounding that says the teacher refuses to comply with disability laws, and have them sign it.

They won't.

But when they tell him to give his test, he can again pull out the slip of paper saying they refused to grant him extra time, with accordance to disability laws. He'll get the time.

If there's one thing I've learned in having to get people to get things done is to make your problem their problem. Right now, it's only DP's problem. He needs to make it the teacher's problem by sharing the fall out with slips of paper that could show up later in court with a disability suit.

Senpai Mon 07-Dec-15 20:45:43

I wouldn't bother explaining it. He doesn't need understanding, he needs extra time.

IamtheDevilsAvocado Mon 07-Dec-15 21:37:31

He indeed does need the extra time... It's pretty rubbish that he is having to fight for every little thing...

blankblink Mon 07-Dec-15 22:38:45

Isn't there some sort of Uni legislation for qualification of the extra time he needs in their disability policies, something like the rules say AQA have for exams?

And if there isn't, then shouldn't there be?

From your OP, the staff seem to think this is just a request which they can grant or refuse on a whim, they need to be made aware that it's an adjustment for a specific disability and people who don't demonstrate the need for the extra time will not be granted it.

ProudAS Mon 07-Dec-15 22:56:46

I think we'd need to know the full story before saying they are out of order but they probably are.

This idea of "we can't do things differently for just one student" is illegal under the EA. Equality is about creating a level playing field not treating everyone the same. Would they prevent a blind student from bringing a guide dog to lectures because other students might decide they wanted to bring their pets!!!! I don't think so somehow.

Things may not be quite so clear cut if making adjustments compromises what is being tested and assessed. For example, if a student does not have sufficient use of their arms to paint but the skill of painting is being tested it would probably not be reasonable for someone else to paint fir them but a scribe in a written art history exam would be.

The department may have discretion in approving requests for extra time but they must comply with the law when exercising that discretion.

BaronessEllaSaturday Mon 07-Dec-15 23:20:19

Does his learning support agreement mention both extra time for exams and extensions on deadlines? I know from my own dc that they are 2 separate things, she gets the extra time automatically but if she needs an extension she needs to show extenuating circumstances to be granted it. For example she currently is far too ill due to her disability to complete her latest piece of coursework so it has been agreed that once she is well again she will get additional support to bring her back up to speed to allow her to complete it and the deadline (which has already passed) will not matter. In normal circumstances the additional support and equipment she is provided with means no extension is allowed.

IamtheDevilsAvocado Tue 08-Dec-15 15:56:23

To clarify :

There is no doubt his disability comes under the Equality Act. (permanent mobility problems and long term health problems).

Yes whoever said up thread the university tutors are seeing it as something that they can either grant or not. They don't see this a legal right... And something he is entitled to,,to give him an even playing field.

When this has been agreed by medical evidecne/disability assessment and the

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