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The Disability Standards for Education 2005 outlines the obligations of education and training providers to make adjustments. These adjustments should ensure that students with special education needs can access and participate in education on the same basis as their peers. Decisions regarding curriculum options, including adjustments, should be made in the context of collaborative curriculum planning.

Adjustments are actions taken that enable a student with special education needs to access syllabus outcomes and content on the same basis as their peers. These adjustments relate to teaching, learning and assessment from Kindergarten to Year 12. The types of adjustments will vary according to the needs of the individual student. Decisions are made at school level to offer adjustments to students with special education needs in course work and assessment activities.

Examples of adjustments include:

  • adjustments to classroom organisation
  • materials and resources that support teaching and learning activities, eg:
    • the use of technology
    • alternate formats such as large print or Braille
    • simplified texts
    • captioning of audiovisual material
    • oral sign interpreters or readers and scribes
    • modifications to equipment or furniture
  • adjustments to enable participation in field trips and excursions
  • adjustments to the amount of lesson/unit content or the time allocated to complete work
  • consideration of individual communication strategies, including verbal and non-verbal communication systems
  • more demonstration of key concepts and skills by the teacher, teacher’s aide or a peer
  • structured opportunities for guided and independent practice
  • additional support through group work, volunteer or peer tutoring.

Specific examples of adjustments are provided below. Some of the strategies may require more support from the teacher, teacher’s aide or peer.

A student may take part in commenting and discussing by:

  • oral contribution to class discussion
  • answering closed questions on a topic
  • using changes in facial expression, nod or gesture to respond to a closed question, eg ‘Are you playing in a sports team at school?’
  • selecting photographs, pictures or symbols from visual aids. The aids may include double item choice board or keyring cluster, eg the student chooses between two photographs to express a preference (like/don’t like)
  • selecting symbols from a communication board to express an opinion
  • using a communication device such as a voice output communication aid (VOCA), eg:
    • the student leads a group discussion with pre-recorded questions
    • a peer records information on a communication device for the student to present to the class
  • using assistive listening devices to take part in and contribute to small-group and whole-class discussions.

A student may take part in writing or recording by:

  • writing simple answers to questions
  • ticking pre-prepared checklists
  • using photographs, pictures or symbols, eg the student
    • sequences pictures to tell a story
    • combines symbols to convey meaning
    • circles a selection of symbols on a page to create a list
  • using computer software, eg the student uses:
    • a drawing program and pictures to write
    • scanned pictures and/or digital photographs in a multimedia presentation
    • assistive technology to select text or pictures from the screen
  • using electronic communication devices such as speech to text.

A student may take part in reading activities by:

  • reading simplified texts
  • reading transcripts
  • following a text being read by a peer or adult
  • following an audio or multimedia presentation of a text, or film with captioning
  • reading a text accompanied by visual images to represent characters, settings and events
  • following a visual sequence of instructions. This may include a visual recipe or a visual timetable.

A student may take part in listening activities by:

  • listening to a text being read by a peer or adult
  • listening to an audio text, multimedia presentation, or film with captioning
  • responding to tone of voice in conjunction with facial expressions, gestures and/or physical prompts
  • using assistive listening devices.

A student may take part in viewing activities by:

  • viewing a film with captioning
  • reading summaries/descriptions of the visual input from photographs, multimedia presentations, films, pictures and posters
  • listening to a peer or adult describe the visual input from photographs, multimedia presentations, films, pictures and posters. This could be done while they ‘view’ the visual media or multimedia together
  • responding to sensory stimuli, facial expressions, gestures or physical prompts. This could be in conjunction with tone of voice.

Additional support

Some students may need more support.

This support may be as well as or instead of adjustments, and may involve:

  • visual and/or verbal prompts when completing classwork and/or assessments
  • physical prompts and/or physical assistance when taking part in an activity
  • provision of partial information/responses to assist the student to demonstrate understanding of knowledge, skills or concepts.

Support materials are available to help teachers to make adjustments for students with special education needs, including:

Other support documents and illustrations of adjustments are available with the syllabuses.

See Assessment and reporting for information about adjustments to assessment.

More information

Disability Standards for Education 2005: Exemplars of Practice

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership: Illustrations of Practice