The Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD) identifies four broad categories of disability: physical, cognitive, sensory, and social/emotional. A student may need adjustments in multiple categories. Below are examples of functional adjustments that can be made for students with a disability. Please note that it is not exhaustive.
For more information about categories of disability and reasonable adjustments, see the NCCD professional learning website and the Department of Education and Training website. For more information about specific disabilities, please visit: The Australian Parenting Website.
Poor fine motor control – Symptoms may include an inability to write (legibly) or type, and reduced writing/typing speed, as well as increased fatigue in writing and fine motor tasks. Use alternatives such as speech to text, a scribe, and an alteration of fine motor tasks.
Limited mobility or Gross motor skills – These students may not be able to reach equipment and may experience increased fatigue during physical tasks. The environment should be adapted to minimise strain and enable access.
Working memory – Limitations in working memory may result in increased fatigue during reading and cognitive tasks. Tasks could be broken down into manageable components and additional scaffolds and resources (word banks, instructions, visual and communication aides) could be provided to assist with tasks. Other supports include using a computer with text prediction and screenreader software (ie 'zoom text'), as well as digital recording devices.
Limited abstract thinking skills – Developmental delays may delay abstract thinking skills. Educators could consider using more tangible (ie ‘concrete’) objects and known examples to represent abstract ideas.
Deaf or hard of hearing – Being deaf or hard of hearing is sometimes referred to as experiencing hearing loss or having a hearing impairment. Such a student may have a limited ability to hear some or all frequencies of sound from one or both ears. It can affect the hearing of certain noises, of spoken language, and/or a reduction in the volume of sounds heard. These students may wish to use assistive technology, signing and visual aides. Teachers may also need to wear an FM unit, use closed captioning on videos, provide transcripts and repeated instructions, as well as have the student sit in close proximity to them.
Having limited, low or no vision – Sometimes referred to as experiencing blindness or vision loss, vision impairment is a disability that, even when corrected (such as with glasses), affects day-to-day living. A person with vision impairment or low vision may have a limited ability to process visual input or colour(s), or an inability to differentiate between light and dark (contrast) or to focus on particular objects or text. Supports include assistive technology, a scribe, Braille code, a computer with screen magnification software, or large print (and extra spacing between lines), as well as high-contrast colours.
Anxiety – Students susceptible to anxiety or stress during classroom activities require additional supports. Suggestions include using a flexible and/or visual timetable, and timed activities with scheduled breaks. Teachers could also explicitly discuss the expectations of the student and employ digital/electronic memory aid strategies.
Additional scaffolding – Depending on the task or situation, students may benefit from the assistance of a more knowledgeable peer, or additional structure, scaffolds or support.