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Disability provisions case studies

The following case studies are based on real applications submitted to the Board of Studies NSW. Each application should include a diagnosis of a disability, along with functional evidence (standardised test scores, work samples or teacher comments) that demonstrates how the disability affects the student in the classroom and in assessment tasks. The Board may approve or decline a provision in accordance with its guidelines, or may approve an alternative provision.

The list of conditions is not exhaustive, but refers to more common conditions. For advice on unlisted conditions, schools may contact Student Support Services on 02 9367 8117.

Conditions are listed under the categories of medical, learning difficulty, hearing and vision.

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Case Studies (PDF)
Medical
Condition(s) Provision(s) requested Diagnostic evidence Functional evidence Provision(s) determined

Anxiety or depression

  • Rest breaks
  • Small group supervision
  • Extra time to work

Documentation from a psychologist, psychiatrist or doctor confirming the student’s diagnosis.

Teacher comments outlining the student’s difficulties in class, including clear evidence that rest breaks have been used and have proven to be successful.

Further updated medical evidence may be requested in Term 3 if there is evidence of any new medications being trialled.

Approved:
Rest breaks and small group supervision to assist in reducing the student’s anxiety.

Declined:
Extra time to work – no evidence to support the need for extra working time.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

  • Rest breaks
  • Small group supervision
  • Extra time to work
  • Medication

Neuropsychiatric or medical report, with the date of diagnosis.

 

Teacher comments outlining the student’s difficulties in class and a demonstration that rest breaks have been used and shown to be of benefit.

Two timed extended tasks handwritten by the student – at least one of which MUST be an extended assessment task or examination. Cover sheets completed by the school for both tasks.

Reading test results (York, Neale or Woodcock).

Approved:
Medication, rest breaks and small group supervision to allow the student to stop and refocus.

Declined:
Extra time to work – not supported by the functional evidence provided. Essays and reading test results demonstrate that the student reads and writes at a comparable level to their cohort.

Autism spectrum disorder (including Asperger syndrome and autism)

  • Rest breaks
  • Small group supervision
  • Toilet breaks

Specialist/medical report, including diagnosis.

Teacher comments indicating the level of engagement that the student has in class. Rest breaks have been used in all timed tasks.

Approved:
Rest breaks, small group supervision.

Declined:
Toilet breaks – no evidence of the need for regular toilet breaks. The student can access the toilet during rest breaks if required, or (as for any student) at any time during the examinations if necessary.

Autism spectrum disorder – severe

  • Rest breaks
  • Individual supervision
  • Extra time to work

Specialist/medical report, including diagnosis.

Teacher comments indicating that significant intervention is required to keep the student on task during class and examinations. The student tires easily, so rest breaks are provided. A teacher’s aide is generally used to keep the student on task.

Approved:
Rest breaks, permission to move, individual supervision, a teacher’s aide to prompt the student to stay on task.

Declined:
Extra time to work – a teacher’s aide can prompt the student to stay focused; no evidence of need for extra working time.

Back injury

  • Rest breaks
  • Permission to move
  • Special chair
  • Medication

Medical report with the date of injury.

Physiotherapy report indicating ongoing treatment and exercises.

Teacher comments outlining that the student does not sit for an entire class and is permitted to rest, stand and move around during class and assessment tasks. The student uses a special chair in all classes.

Approved:
Rest breaks, permission to move, medication, small group supervision and special chair.

Cerebral palsy – severe

Student has limited movement, unable to write

  • Special desk
  • Special chair
  • Rest breaks
  • Writer
  • Reader
  • Extra time to work
  • Modified paper requirements
  • Toilet breaks

Specialist/medical report, evidence of prescribed medication and side effects.

Teacher comments indicating the level of in‑class and examination support, including the use of a reader, modified tasks, a teacher’s aide, toilet breaks and extra time.

Two timed extended tasks dictated to a writer, as the student does not write for themselves – at least one MUST be an extended assessment task or examination. Cover sheets completed by the school for both tasks.

Reading test results.

Approved:
Special desk and special chair, writer, reader, rest breaks and modified paper requirements, as the student cannot write. A teacher’s aide to be the reader and writer due to the student’s poor speech.

A teacher’s aide to assist the student with their personal needs as necessary.

Toilet breaks.

Extra time to work to be considered, based on particular exam papers.

Declined:
Extra time to write – inappropriate provision, as the student cannot write and always uses a writer.

Chronic fatigue

  • Rest breaks
  • Medication

Medical report with the date of recent diagnosis.

Teacher comments outlining how the student is affected in class. The student is provided rest breaks to cope with fatigue.

Further updated medical evidence may be requested in Term 3.

Approved:
Rest breaks, medication and small group supervision.

Crohn’s disease

  • Toilet breaks
  • Bite-sized food
  • Drink
  • Small group supervision

Medical report outlining the condition and the student’s need for frequent toilet breaks.

Teacher comments confirming the student’s need for frequent toilet breaks. The student is provided with food.

Approved:
Toilet breaks, bite-sized food, drink and small group supervision. (May consider rest breaks if the condition is severe.)

Depression – see Anxiety or depression

 

 

 

 

Diabetes

  • Diabetic provisions of bite-sized food, drink, medication, checking blood sugar levels

The principal must have sighted documentation to confirm that the student has diabetes.

 

Approved:
Diabetic provisions of checking blood sugar levels; medication, food and drink as required.

Epilepsy

  • Rest breaks
  • Extra time to work
  • Small group supervision

Medical report stating that the student is on medication, how long the student has been on medication, and that no side effects are evident.

Teacher comments noting that the student does fatigue easily and uses rest breaks in class and school assessments.

Approved:
Rest breaks and small group supervision.

Declined:
Extra time to work – no functional evidence provided and medical documentation does not indicate that the side effects of medication warrant extra time to work.

Hand/arm

Pain when handwriting

  • Extra time to write

Medical documentation outlining a hand condition.

Teacher comments confirming that the student experiences pain when writing for extended periods.

Two timed extended tasks handwritten by the student – at least one MUST be an extended assessment task or examination. Cover sheets completed by the school for both tasks.

Approved:
Rest breaks to address pain with extended writing and small group supervision (may consider a writer if pain is severe).

Declined:
Extra time to write – essays demonstrate that the student’s writing ability is in a range similar to the rest of the cohort. Further writing time could make the condition worse and extend the time in which the student experiences pain.

Hand/arm

Slow handwriting

  • Extra time to write

None provided.

Teacher comments noting that the student takes time to write their responses.

Two timed extended tasks handwritten by the student – at least one MUST be an extended assessment task or examination. Cover sheets completed by the school for both tasks.

Approved:
None.

Declined:
Extra time to write – no evidence that the student has a disability (slow handwriting is not a disability). If documented evidence of a diagnosis can be provided that can explain the cause of the slow handwriting, then functional evidence already provided can be assessed for eligibility for this provision.

Head injury

  • Reader
  • Writer
  • Extra time to work
  • Rest breaks
  • Medication

Medical report with the date of the head injury and the impact on functioning.

Evidence of medication that the student has been prescribed.

Teacher comments indicating that the student is provided with rest breaks to accommodate fatigue and needs a reader for all exams and assessments.

Two timed extended tasks handwritten by the student – at least one MUST be an extended assessment task or examination. Cover sheets completed by the school for both tasks.

Reading test results.

Approved:
Reader, writer, rest breaks, medication and small group supervision.

Declined:
Extra time, as the approved provisions address the needs outlined in the application and reflect what is currently provided in school, and the reading tests are outside the guidelines.

Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)

  • Towel
  • Rest breaks

Medical report.

Teacher comments indicating that the condition does cause issues when writing. A towel is used to dry hands during extended writing.

Approved:
Towel.

Declined:
Rest breaks – insufficient evidence of the need for rest breaks, as the student can use a towel throughout the exams.

Late illness

For example, chicken pox, glandular fever, whooping cough

  • Separate supervision

Medical evidence confirming the diagnosis and indicating that the student is contagious.

None.

Approved:
None.

Declined:
A student who is contagious cannot be provided with separate supervision (due to the risk to supervisors). The student should submit an illness/misadventure appeal. When the student provides a medical certificate stating that they are no longer contagious, provisions can be considered if required.

Late injury

Broken arm

  • Extra time to write
  • Rest breaks
  • Small group supervision

Medical evidence of the broken arm indicating that the student cannot write.

None.

Approved:
Extra time to rest or a writer and small group supervision.

Declined:
Extra time to write – sufficient provisions approved. Extra time to write is not a suitable provision for a student who is experiencing pain with extended writing.

Migraine

  • Rest breaks
  • Small group supervision

Doctor’s certificate stating that the student suffers from migraines.

Teacher comments that the student suffers from migraines on occasion and is sent home.

Approved:
None.

Declined:
The student’s condition is episodic and may or may not require this provision at the time of the examinations. If the student suffers a migraine at the time of the examinations, the student should submit an illness/misadventure appeal with relevant documentation at the time of the exams.

Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD)

  • Rest breaks
  • Extra time to work
  • Small group supervision
  • Medication

Specialist/medical report with diagnosis and a mention of medication.

Teacher comments indicating how the condition is addressed in class and that the student takes medication. The student also uses rest breaks as a coping strategy during assessment tasks.

Approved:
Medication, rest breaks, small group supervision.

Declined:
Extra time to work – no functional evidence supplied to support the application. Medical documentation does not explain side effects of the medication that would warrant extra time to work.

Social phobia

  • Individual supervision

Medical report indicating evidence of a social phobia and medication that the student has been prescribed.

Teacher comments confirming that the student has significant issues with being surrounded by other students. The condition is especially heightened during examination situations. The student is seated separately for all assessment tasks.

Approved:
Individual supervision.

Spina bifida

  • Rest breaks
  • Toilet breaks
  • Bite-sized food
  • Drink

Specialist/medical report outlining the condition and the impact on day-to-day functioning.

Teacher comments indicating the successful use of rest breaks. The student sits near the toilet and is usually seated separately during examinations.

Approved:
Small group supervision, rest breaks with access to the toilet during rest breaks (if the condition is severe, both may be approved), bite-sized food and drink.

Stutter

  • Examiner aware

Medical report confirming condition.

Teacher comments indicating that the student has a speech stutter that may impact on oral presentations.

Approved:
Examiner aware – the Board examiners in courses with a speaking component (eg Drama performance or Language oral examination) are advised in advance so that they are aware of and accommodate the student’s condition.

Learning difficulty
Condition(s) Provision(s) requested Diagnostic evidence Functional evidence Provision(s) determined

Dyslexia

  • Writer
  • Extra time to write

Specialist report indicating that testing has shown that the student has dyslexia.

Teacher comments stating that the student occasionally struggles with reading and spelling.

Spelling test results.

Two timed extended tasks handwritten by the student – at least one MUST be an extended assessment task or examination. Cover sheets completed by the school for both tasks.

Approved:
Writer and small group supervision.

Declined:
Extra time to write – the student is outside the guidelines for extra time based on the essays submitted. The provision of a writer addresses the issue of spelling difficulties.

Learning disability

  • Extra time
  • Reader
  • Writer
  • Small group supervision

None provided.

Teacher comments noting that the student is weak academically and struggles with written material.

Reading test results.

Spelling test results.

Two timed extended tasks handwritten by the student – at least one MUST be an extended assessment task or examination. Cover sheets completed by the school for both tasks.

Approved:
None.

Declined:
Reader, writer, extra time and small group supervision. The reading test and spelling test results are outside the guidelines. There is no evidence that the student has a disability.

Reading disability

  • Reader
  • Extra time

Specialist report noting that the student has a learning disability.

Teacher comments stating that the student has difficulty reading extended passages and a reader is used for assessment situations.

Reading test results.

Approved:
Reader or extra time (if reading for themselves) and small group supervision.

Hearing
Condition(s) Provision(s) requested Diagnostic evidence Functional evidence Provision(s) determined

Deaf

  • Small group supervision
  • Oral interpreter
  • Dictionary/thesaurus
  • Extra time
  • FM radio microphone

Audiogram/report.

Teacher comments noting the school support provided, including oral interpreter and FM radio microphone.

Approved:
Small group supervision, oral interpreter, dictionary/thesaurus, FM radio microphone.

Declined:
Extra time to work – no evidence to support the need for extra working time.

Low hearing impairment

  • Seating at front
  • Individual instructions

Audiogram/report.

Teacher comments stating that due to the student’s hearing impairment, the school provides individual instructions for assessment tasks and the student sits at the front of all classes.

Approved:
Seating at front, individual instructions.

Moderate/ severe hearing impairment

  • Small group supervision
  • Oral interpreter
  • Dictionary/thesaurus
  • Extra time

Audiogram/report.

Teacher comments noting that due to the student’s language difficulties, the school provides an oral interpreter and extra time.

Reading test results to support the provision of extra time.

Approved:
Small group supervision, oral interpreter, dictionary/thesaurus.

Extra time approved based on the reading test results, which demonstrate that the student has a language difficulty.

Headphones for language exams.

Vision
Condition(s) Provision(s) requested Diagnostic evidence Functional evidence Provision(s) determined

Blind

  • Braille examination papers
  • JAWS – to respond to questions
  • Extra time to work
  • Personal computer

Vision report demonstrating the student’s vision impairment.

Teacher comments indicating what the student uses in school, specifying braille papers, JAWS and computer.

Approved:
Braille examination papers.

JAWS to respond to questions.

Personal computer to work with JAWS.

Extra time to be advised nearer the examination – the amount of extra time may vary according to the nature of the examination.

Blind

  • JAWS – to read and respond to examinations
  • Extra time to work
  • Rest breaks
  • Personal computer

Vision report demonstrating the student’s vision impairment.

Teacher comments indicating what the student uses in school, specifying JAWS and computer.

Approved:
Personal computer, modified papers for JAWS.

Extra time to work, according to the nature of the examination.

Small group supervision.

Declined:
Rest breaks – appropriate provisions have been provided to address the student’s examination needs.

Recent vision impairment

  • Writer
  • Reader
  • Small group supervision
  • Extra time to work
  • Rest breaks

Vision report indicating the level of vision loss and the date it occurred. Report indicates that the loss was a recent event, meaning that the student is unable to use other methods such as braille.

Teacher comments that demonstrate what the school has done to accommodate the recent vision loss. A reader and writer are currently provided.

Approved:
Reader and writer – evidence has been provided that these are necessary due to the recent vision loss, as the student cannot use other methods of reading and writing.

Small group supervision.

Declined:
Extra time to work – the student has been provided with practical support to address their examination needs.

Rest breaks – appropriate provisions have been provided to address the student’s examination needs.

Scotopic sensitivity (aka Irlen syndrome)

  • Blue paper
  • Extra time to rest
  • Special lighting
  • Extra time to work

Irlen report indicating that the student struggles with normal coloured paper, recommending blue papers, special lighting and extra time.

Teacher comments indicating that the school provides blue paper for class notes and assessment tasks. Sometimes the student takes extra time to complete tasks.

Approved:
Coloured overlay, vision aids and special lighting.

Declined:
Blue paper -
Coloured overlays or filters are most effective for individuals.

Extra time to rest – the evidence provided does not demonstrate that the impact of the student’s disability in examinations is relieved by the use of this provision.

Extra time to work – no reading test results or handwritten essay/assessments supplied.

Sufficient provisions have been approved to address the student’s examination needs.

Vision impairment/ low vision

  • Enlarged font
  • Rest breaks
  • Extra time to work

Vision report indicating the level of vision impairment and visual fatigue, and recommending enlarged font size and rest breaks.

Teacher comments indicating that the student struggles with normal sized font and is provided with enlarged print notes. The student also takes rest breaks, which are proven to assist when the student experiences visual fatigue.

Approved:
N18 examination papers.

Rest breaks.

Small group supervision.

Declined:
Extra time to work – no reading test results provided. Vision is outside the guidelines for extra time.

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