Reasonable adjustment, unfair advantage or optional extra? Teaching staff attitudes towards reasonable adjustments for students with disabilities




reasonable adjustments, disability, higher education, academic development


This article explores staff awareness and confidence in implementing reasonable adjustments for students with disabilities in higher education (HE) contexts from a variety of faculty staff at one institution. The duty for UK HE providers to make reasonable adjustments was included in the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 and later transposed into the Equality Act in 2010. This project aimed to explore current levels of teaching staff awareness concerning implementing reasonable adjustments for students with disabilities. Alongside this, the project also sought to better understand the attitudes towards reasonable adjustments that teaching staff currently hold. A small-scale survey-based study was conducted between July 2020 and October 2020, gaining qualitative and quantitative data from 38 staff members across one HE provider. The data reveals staff committed to assisting students to access education. However, as with other literature, our findings demonstrate that there are high levels of anxiety around reasonable adjustments and a desire for further training and support. Significantly, the data also indicated a lack of understanding of the requirement to make reasonable adjustments as a legal obligation and duty as a means of combatting discrimination and exclusion.

Author Biographies

Christopher Little, Manchester Metropolitan University

Chris Little currently teaches in the University Teaching Academy at Manchester Metropolitan University. This role encompasses lecturing and tutoring on postgraduate qualifications in teaching and learning, as well as co-leading MMU’s AdvanceHE professional recognition route. His research interests lie in inclusive education, undergraduate research, academic practices and literacies and youth inclusion.

Abigail Pearson, Keele University

Abigail Pearson currently teaches as a Lecturer in the School of Law at Keele University. Her research focus is on the legal and social understanding of reasonable adjustment in various contexts. She also works as Disability Liaison Officer in the School of Law.

Karl Gimblett, Keele University

Karl Gimblett is a Lecturer in Postgraduate Clinical Education in Keele University’s School of Medicine. Prior to this Karl worked as an Educational Developer at University of Liverpool and as Digital Training and Development Lead at Keele University.


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