Reasonable accommodation of disability and chronic illness during your degree course

If your condition means you would struggle to complete an examination or assessment in the prescribed form or within the specified time limit, you may be eligible for reasonable accommodation. 

What does ‘reasonable accommodation’ mean?

Reasonable accommodation of disability or chronic illness is a way of adapting degree courses on an individual basis to ensure that students are not unduly disadvantaged by difficulties stemming from disabilities or long-term health conditions and that there is equality of opportunity for all when it comes to taking examinations and passing credits. It does not mean that students who are granted reasonable accommodations have lower academic standards to meet. Students may qualify for reasonable accommodations if they have a disability or long-term health condition which has an impact on the specific situation of an examination or assessment. 

Reasonable accommodations may involve:

  • Reasonable extensions to deadlines (e.g. for written papers)
  • Permission to make up sessions missed by completing additional assignments or similar
  • Breaks in written exams that ‘stop the clock’, i.e. do not count as part of the total time available for the exam
  • Provision of a separate room for completion of a written exam
  • Permission to use specific aids for coping with acute tension or stress 
  • Completion of exams or credits in a form other than that specified in the Course and Examination Regulations for the relevant degree course. Examples of this are permission to complete an assignment on your own rather than as group work, or to give a presentation to a very small group rather than to the whole seminar class
  • Extension of the period of time between individual exams/assessments
  • Permission to complete required periods of practical experience on a part-time basis
  • Planning of assessments in line with your needs; for example, you might need not to have an exam early in the morning or late in the afternoon due to side-effects of medication or the impact of sleep problems

How to apply for reasonable accommodation of disability and chronic illness

Most higher education institutions will require you to submit an application, with appropriate supporting documentation, to the relevant examinations committee or examinations office. Many of them have specific forms for the purpose. The HAW Hamburg form is here.

If you need advice on applying for consideration of special circumstances, you can turn to your institution’s representative for students with disabilities or long-term health conditions (follow this link for contact details for the representative at HAW Hamburg). Although their title doesn’t explicitly mention mental health conditions, their remit covers students with these issues and they will be happy to help.

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