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Disability provisions

Disability provisions are practical arrangements that make it possible for students with permanent or temporary disabilities to attempt the HSC examinations.

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Student Support Services Branch
(02) 9367 8325
(02) 9367 8117
(02) 9367 8087
Office of the Board of Studies NSW
GPO Box 5300
Board of Studies Liaison Officers
Information on BOSLOs page

Disability provisions for the Higher School Certificate examinations

Disability provisions in the HSC are practical arrangements designed to help students who couldn't otherwise make a fair attempt to show what they know in an exam room.

The provisions granted are solely determined by how the student’s exam performance is affected. Provisions may include braille papers, large-print papers, use of a reader and/or writer, extra time or rest breaks.

Applying for disability provisions

Disability provisions application forms and information guides are available to schools from Schools Online for students who intend to sit for the Higher School Certificate examinations.

Students who wish to apply for disability provisions should see the Year Adviser or School Counsellor. The Year Adviser, School Counsellor or other nominated teacher should complete the application form. In doing so, they should:

  1. Indicate the provisions for which the student is applying. In doing this, it is important to refer to the case studies, which gives examples of the provisions that the Board considers most appropriate for a particular disability.
  2. Indicate how the disability affects the student's work in the classroom and in examination situations.
  3. Supply evidence of the student's disability. A guide to the various types of evidence required and possible provisions is provided in Guidance for schools.
  4. If the student is unable to obtain an appropriate diagnosis, then other detailed information will need to be submitted to establish the existence of a disability. In this case it is necessary to provide: details as to why the student cannot obtain relevant documenation and diagnosis, a reasonable history of the student’s difficulty and needs (including previous and current in-school support), and detailed teacher comments which indicate the impact of the student’s condition on their classwork and in examinations.

It is important that the school submit the completed application to the Board of Studies by the due date. The due date is always the last day of Term 1, except for applications based on chronic fatigue syndrome, post-viral syndrome, Ross River fever or glandular fever, which should be submitted in July of the examination year, with teacher comments and medical documentation, also dated July.

If all the necessary information is not provided, some requested provisions may be declined due to insufficient evidence.

How does the process work?

Once the Board of Studies has received the application, a letter acknowledging receipt is published on Schools Online. The application is processed at the Board of Studies.

The Board of Studies has a Panel of Specialists that includes medical practitioners, educational psychologists, and consultants for the visually or hearing impaired. The category of the disability and the evidence presented will determine who reviews the file.

When a decision has been made, a decision letter listing the approved and/or declined provisions is published through Schools Online, with a copy for both the principal and the student.

Appeal procedures

Should a student wish to appeal the decision to decline a provision, the appeal must be submitted through the school within 14 days of receiving the disability provisions decision letter. The appeal must state the reason why the decision is considered unacceptable, making reference to the evidence supplied in the original application.

The appeal must include new supportive evidence, such as a further medical report, which clearly states why the student needs the provision, or additional reading, writing or spelling test results.

The Board of Studies will conduct an independent review and a decision will be made within 21 days. The outcome of the appeal will be advised to the school and to the student via Schools Online.

A note to parents

If you are concerned about whether disability provisions apply for your child, you should contact the school Year Adviser or Counsellor.

The application form must be submitted by your child's school as it requires specific information about the difficulties your child may experience in a classroom or examination situation. This does not mean, however, that you should not be involved in the application process.

Who can apply for disability provisions?

Any HSC student with a disability recognised in the Commonwealth Disability Standards for Education 2005.

The definition of ‘disability’ in the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) includes:

  • physical
  • intellectual
  • psychiatric
  • sensory
  • neurological, and
  • learning disabilities, as well as
  • physical disfigurement, and
  • the presence in the body of disease-causing organisms.

(Australian Human Rights Commission).

Note that the disability provisions apply only where the disability is such that a practical arrangement is required to reduce disadvantage in an exam situation.

Disability provisions also apply to temporary and emergency-related disabilities. A typical example of an ‘emergency’ is where a student breaks their writing arm a week before an examination.

Students who become ill during an examination period may be eligible to make an illness/misadventure application rather than a disability provisions application.

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