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compiled by Lotte Hammer

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A duty to anticipate

According to the DDA, a responsible body (in Part 4 this is an educational institution) has a duty to make reasonable adjustments. This is an anticipatory duty to people with disabilities not simply a duty to individuals. This means that institutions have to build in inclusive practices into ways of working with staff and students.

Responsible bodies should not wait until a disabled person applies to a course or tries to use a service before thinking about what reasonable adjustments they could make. Instead they should continually be anticipating the requirements of disabled people or students and the adjustments they could be making for them, such as regular staff development and reviews of practice. Failure to anticipate the need for an adjustment may mean it is too late to comply with the duty to make the adjustment when it is required. Lack of notice would not in itself provide a defence to a claim that an adjustment should have been made.

(Disability Rights Commission, 2002, p.55)

A good example of embedding a reasonable adjustment would be if a university encouraged its staff to put an overview of lecture notes on the institution intranet. It ensures that all documents put on the intranet meet accessible web guidelines so that the format of information is accessible and compatible with specialist software. It therefore anticipates reasonable adjustments that it might need to make for individual students with disabilities and can bring benefits to all students. A bullet pointed list of key points to be covered in a lecture can help to focus concentration in a lecture, aid note-taking and encourage students to prepare for the lecture. It is unlikely that lecture overviews published in advance would replace the experience of the lecture and have a negative impact on the attendance of students to such learning opportunities.

 

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