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What are Reasonable Accommodations?

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For the purpose of all College policies relating to students with disabilities, a reasonable accommodation might be any action that helps alleviate a substantial disadvantage. Making a reasonable accommodation might involve changing procedures, modifying the delivery of the course taken, providing additional services (e.g. examination arrangements, materials in large print), or altering the physical environment.

Reasonable and appropriate accommodations (adjustments and supports) and/or auxiliary aids are determined on a case-by-case basis and in accord with the individual's certified disability/specific learning difficulty.

Please note that while these are recommendations, College has a duty to comply with the Equal Status Act, 2000 which provides that an educational establishment cannot discriminate in relation to the access of a student to any course, facility or benefit provided by the establishment and the Disability Act 2005, which places a statutory obligation on public service providers to support access to services and facilities for people with disabilities.

Below are a list of the following reasonable Accommodations you will find on the LENS report:

Trinity Inclusive Curriculum

The main way to support student's with disabilities is to follow inclusive teaching and assessment practices. The Trinity Inclusive Curriculum Website is an extensive resource with good practice guidelines that enable you to support all students. Often, one action (e.g. circulating notes in advance) can benefit many different student's for many different reasons. Academic staff can consider accessibility when designing curricula so as to lessen the need for future reasonable accommodations.

TIC tool logoFor help on creating an inclusive learning environment is provided by the Trinity Inclusive Curriculum tool at: www.tictool.ie.

For more information on this tool please refer to the CAPSL website at: http://www.tcd.ie/CAPSL/TIC/evaluation/.

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Allow additional time to develop practical skills

It is not reasonable to expect everyone to work at the same speed. For any student with reduced fine motor skills, processing speed difficulties or a disability which can cause pain, fatigue or reduced mobility, even the average speed may be too fast. Where ever possible students should be given additional time to develop alternative techniques or practice specific practical skills to reach an appropriate level of competence in the skill. Lecturers are encouraged to consider ways students could supplement these skills with simulated or improvised resources.

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Provide accessible locations

The vast majority of rooms available for teaching in College are fully accessible. However, there are still a few rooms and buildings which are inaccessible and these should be avoided if at all possible. You can view the accessibility of College buildings within TCD by this link to the college map website.

If you do have an inaccessible venue unavoidably in your timetable the first thing to do is check the Lens reports to see if this venue will be a problem. If it is, you can propose a room swap with a group of similar size for the same time. The examinations and timetabling office and the Disability Service may be able to assist you with this situation should it arise. Provide full details of field trips in advance so that students can make travel arrangements. Consider the accessibility of field trip locations.

When scheduling your timetable be mindful to avoid time travelling problems! Some students may need twice as long as their peers to walk from one venue to another. If the venues are too far apart these students may not only be late to the lecture and too fatigued to concentrate when they get there, they may not be able to attend at all because the distance is too great for them to even attempt.

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Allow students to record lectures

If a student is unable to take accurate notes in a lecture on account of their disability, students may request that they record the lecture on a Dictaphone. This request only applies to lectures and may not be seen to apply to tutorials or classes of a practical nature (e.g. laboratory work).

As in the case of provision of lecture notes, the student will sign a Code of Practice with the College Disability Service that states that the recordings made are for their own personal use and will not be shared.

Recording of lectures – College Calendar Part I General Regulations

Students may not make audio or visual recordings of lectures without the express consent of the individual lecturer. Students with disabilities may be permitted to record lectures if it is deemed a reasonable accommodation by the Disability Service. Students will be advised that all recordings remain the property of College and are for personal use only. See also DATA PROTECTION (section VIII) and COPYRIGHT (section IX).

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Where possible, prioritise reading lists.

If reading lists are prioritised indicating core texts, or annotated, giving a brief outline of the text, this will assist students with disabilities to pace their workload and ensure that core material is covered. Individual lecture handouts that include suggested reading that differs from the course reading list, should be provided in advance of the beginning of the module

It is also very important that subject librarians receive reading lists from lecturers well in advance of the beginning of the course/module. Where readings lists are not provided prior to the commencement of term, there is a great likelihood of delays in resource provision that can negatively impact the student's academic experience and ability to succeed. It is also essential to have texts in advance for students with sensory/print disabilities who require that the text be provided in alternative format.

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Allow an assistant to attend lectures or labs

Provide copies of annotated reading lists, lecture handouts and overhead slides. All handouts and presentations (including those from guest lecturers) should be provided to the student in electronic format, ideally in Word or Powerpoint. Where possible these should be available to the student before the lecture or seminar, ideally as early as possible. Provision of lecture notes / slides will assist the student to structure their notes and assists with note-taking during lectures. It also helps the student to find the salient points, rather than being distracted by tangential information.

This will benefit students wishing to engage in focused, efficient reading; those who works part-time of necessity; students with family commitments that limit reading time; student with a specific learning difficulty who finds reading time consuming and tiring; students who are non-native English speakers and student with a chronic illness leading to fatigue / pain; or concentration difficulties due to medication.

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Provide enlarged hand-outs & exam papers

The College Accessible information policy recommends that printed material be provided in a sans serif font, like Arial, and a font of size 12pt.

See details at: http://www.tcd.ie/about/policies/accessible-info-policy.php#appendix-1

Following this policy will not only ensure that College is compliant with the Disability Act 2005, it will also increase the readability of texts because larger and clearer text facilitates more efficient reading and eases comprehension.

However, some students with significant visual impairments require a larger font size to make their texts readable. Usually, a request for enlarged handouts will specify a size 14 font. It is important that these students are also provided with their exam papers in enlarged font.

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Encourage appropriate seating

Where students sit is not just a sign of how interested they are. Students with medical conditions may only feel comfortable sitting close to the door so that if they need to leave they can do so with the minimum of disruption. Similarly, students with anxiety or social phobia may feel too uncomfortable sitting away from a door or among other students. Students with sensory impairments may need to sit closer or further away in comparison to other students depending on their need. The majority of students, particularly in their first year of university, will not be used to attending large lecture theatres and may feel intimidated about moving seats.

Deaf and hard of hearing students may not be aware that their hearing aids will not be as beneficial in large groups where there is a lot of additional background noise. The front row seats in some lecture theatres may not provide a good position for students to lip read from. Therefore, it is important that lecturers encourage all students to find the most appropriate seating, even if that means moving seats several times and perceiving things from different points of view!

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Provide feedback on continuous assessments

The majority of students welcome and benefit from feedback on their continuous assessments. Students have a heightened interest in finding out specifically why they got the mark they got and how they could have done better. Students may be unaware of the standard required in university in areas such as grammar, spelling, referencing, structure, argument and conclusions.

Some students, particularly those who are blind and vision impaired may have difficulty formatting submitted work (e.g. setting margins). Provide feedback to the student on submitted work in an appropriate form, e.g. face-to-face, e-mail or large print, as appropriate.

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Provide lecture notes in advance

This accommodation will only be requested from the Disability Service in the case that a student has a substantial difficulty in taking accurate notes in class on account of their disability. The notes to be provided may include lecture notes (which can be in abbreviated form), PowerPoint and overhead slides. Handouts given out in individual lectures should also be provided in advance. Guest lecturers on the course should be advised to supply their notes in advance of the course beginning.

The notes should be provided in electronic format; this facilitates alternative format provision where it is necessary or use of text to speech software. The student will sign a Code of Practice with the College Disability Service that states that the course materials provided by a lecturer/ teaching assistant as a reasonable accommodation are for their own personal use and will not be shared in any format.

Moving beyond the rationale above it is worth considering that providing lecture notes in advance for everyone has benefits for those who; wish to prepare for a lecture in advance; students who find lectures become exercises in speed writing rather an active cognitive engagements; mature students with lower stamina who find it difficult to write continuously for an hour and could use a handout; students who find it hard to follow the structure of the lecture aurally and can gain structure from the handout; international students who find it difficult to write and listen simultaneously in a second language and students who sometimes miss classes for medical reasons.

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Flexibility on deadlines as appropriate

Provide details of assignment deadlines well in advance. Many students may have difficulty prioritising and focusing on the required elements of the assessment. Providing clear specific details makes it easier for a student to complete an assignment. Providing deadlines well in advance enables a student to structure their study time so that they divide their time appropriately between subjects.

A student with dyslexia may find that completion of assignments takes longer, so provision of deadlines well in advance enables students to pace their workload. Similarly, a blind student can effectively manage the conversion of information to alternative formats.

Flexibility of attendance as appropriate

Due to the nature of a student's disability, it is possible that some lectures / seminars may be missed due to ill-health or medical appointments. Students who have a Lens report have submitted medical evidence from a consultant or specialist of a disability or significant ongoing illness. While a Lens report cannot act as an open ended medical certificate it should alert staff to the fact that regular absences may be necessary and that agreement should be sought as to what level of absence can be reasonably be accommodated. This should be done on a case by case basis taking into account the course requirements, the principle of reasonable accommodation and the nature of the student’s disability. 

College Calendar Part I General Regulations

Students who are unable to attend lectures (or other forms of teaching) due to their disability should immediately contact the Disability Service to discuss the matter of a reasonable accommodation. Exceptions to attendance requirements for a student, on disability grounds, may be granted by the Senior Lecturer following consultation with the student’s school, department or course office, and the Disability Service.

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Repeat questions asked before answering

When a student asks an insightful question it is important to pause before launching into your equally insightful response. Has everyone heard and understood the question? Repeating the question will not only widen the audience to your response but will also allow other students time to reflect on what the question means and give them time to come up with their own answer.

Repeating questions asked before answering is a useful inclusive teaching strategy that will assist all students, not just those who may have a hearing impairment.

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Maintain confidentiality

It is important that lecturing staff are aware of an individual's disability, but highlighting it during class time may be very upsetting for a student or at the very least may cause embarrassment and so should be avoided. In addition, students have been reassured in disclosing their disability that such information is provided only to staff in College on a need to know basis.

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Where possible, prioritise reading lists.

If reading lists are prioritised indicating core texts, or annotated, giving a brief outline of the text, this will assist students with disabilities to pace their workload and ensure that core material is covered. Individual lecture handouts that include suggested reading that differs from the course reading list, should be provided in advance of the beginning of the module

It is also very important that subject librarians receive reading lists from lecturers well in advance of the beginning of the course/module. Where readings lists are not provided prior to the commencement of term, there is a great likelihood of delays in resource provision that can negatively impact the student's academic experience and ability to succeed. It is also essential to have texts in advance for students with sensory/print disabilities who require that the text be provided in alternative format.

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Last updated 7 March 2017 andrew.costello@tcd.ie (Email).