Every student has different needs. There will be students with disabilities who need study support and adaptations on most courses. As the course coordinator or teacher, you have a key role in making sure your course is accessible and that all students are on equal terms.
The purpose of study support is to provide students whose disabilities may interfere with their studies with tailored support and adaptations.
Study support for students with disabilities is only available to students with permanent disabilities (i.e. problems lasting six months or more). Examples of permanent disabilities include dyslexia, neuropsychiatric disorders such as ADD, ADHD or Autism Spectrum Disorder, mental illness, hearing or vision impairments, reduced mobility or chronic illnesses that affect studies.
Study support helps compensate for any impaired functional capacity, making education accessible and enabling students to participate in their studies on equal terms.
Here, you can read more about the following:
Accessible and inclusive teaching
Expect there to be students with disabilities receiving study support in each course group. What works well for these students usually works well for all students. Here are some suggestions about making teaching more inclusive and accessible:
- Create clear structures in Canvas, for the course as a whole and for each teaching component. Avoid making changes, if possible.
- If you have to make changes, provide clear written and verbal information.
- Communicate with your students, evaluate and ask them if they think the course structure and content are clear.
- Discuss with your teaching team. If you have a number of courses that are part of a programme, aim to create cohesive structures in both Canvas and elsewhere.
- Publish presentations on Canvas – before the lecture if possible.
- Plan proper breaks and make sure to take them.
- At the start of each lecture, begin by presenting how it will be structured. Conclude lectures with a summary.
- Make sure you and others can be heard:
– Always use a microphone if possible.
– Face the students when talking to them.
– Clearly repeat any questions and contributions from audience members so they can be heard by all.
Accessibility for students with dyslexia
What is studying like when you have dyslexia? Uppsala University has produced five short films that describe teaching situations from a student perspective. They contain suggestions for how teachers can help students in these situations.
The study support process
When a student notifies the university that they have a disability and require study support, the process usually goes as follows:
- The student applies online via the National Administration and Information System for Coordinators – Nais. When they apply, the student uploads proof of their disability using a certificate issued by a doctor, assessor or other specialist.
- The coordinator will then conduct an assessment based on this certificate and a meeting with the student. The coordinator will then publish their decision in Nais entitling the student to support (such as note-taking support and mentor) and recommended adaptations (such as extra time for examinations or enabling them to use a computer during an exam). The Nais decision does not include information about the disability, instead it focuses on support and adaptations.
- The student is their own advocate. They will need to contact the teacher for each course and discuss the adaptation needs they may have. This is essential, as a student’s needs are not fixed – they can vary from one course or situation to another.
It is a good idea for teachers to encourage students with Nais decisions receiving study support to reach out. Ask to see the student’s Nais decision if they do not show you voluntarily.
- The course coordinator or teacher will be informed about the recommended adaptations for the student. They will discuss their needs for the course in question. The course coordinator or teacher then determines what is suitable and possible in relation to the intended course learning outcomes and other significant factors.
Use the Nais decision as a starting point, but do not assume that the student will always need to use all the support and adaptations for all situations. Instead, be sensitive to the student’s thoughts about their needs and solutions on a more detailed level. Remember that all students must meet the same learning outcomes, but they can do so in different ways.
- Contact the coordinator if anything is unclear or you are uncertain of anything. The coordinator is bound by professional secrecy but they can discuss general information. They can discuss specific cases if the student has given their consent.
- We are always careful with our students’ privacy and are bound by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Never include names or personal identity numbers in emails regarding disabilities. You must also redact any personal and sensitive information students may have written in their emails. There is no guarantee that students are aware of data protection rules and the risks related to personal data.
Different support and adaptations
As a teacher, you will be closely involved in the practical side of some of the support and adaptations. Others will be handled by coordinators at the Division of Educational Affairs, University Library or exam services team (if used). For example:
- Adapting course components. Recommended by course coordinator. Planned and implemented by course coordinator together with the student. If necessary, in consultation with the coordinator.
- Adapted assessment. Recommended by course coordinator. Examiner takes final decision. If the exam services team are involved with an on-campus written examination, they will oversee the adaptations (room booking, exam computers, invigilators, etc.).
- Additional supervision for degree projects. Support authorised by the coordinator. Contact the coordinator about remuneration before allocating extra hours.
- Adapted course literature, e.g. talking books. The student contacts the SLU University Library who will arrange this.
- Note-taking support. Arranged by the coordinator. Two options available:
- Coursemate who shares their notes and receives an hourly fee from Funka.
- The student borrows a SmartPen from Funka. The SmartPen records the lecture as they take their own notes. See Basic functions of Echo SmartPen – Youtube (in Swedish only).
- Mentor. Support from an experienced student or other person, often to help with structuring and planning studies. Mentors are recruited by coordinators and receive an hourly fee from Funka.
- Computer programs such as speech synthesis and spelling programs. Available for all students and employees. Can be downloaded from SLU’s Software Share or with help from IT support.
- Sign language interpreters and speech-to-text interpreters. Ordered by the coordinator, funded by Funka. Teacher involved if necessary.
Read more about support and adaptations on the Student web.
All students taking a course are to meet the same learning outcomes. However, they may need to approach them differently. All SLU course syllabuses have a standard formulation that enables examiners to provide adapted or alternative assessments for students with Nais decisions recommending adaptations.
Common adaptations include:
- Extra time for on-campus written examinations (usually 25%).
- Sitting the examination in a smaller group.
- Using a computer with speech synthesis and specialist spelling program to write the exam.
- The adapted deadline must not affect the student's grade in cases where students not receiving study support will be penalised for missing the standard deadline.
Examples of other, less common adaptations include:
- An oral instead of written examination.
- Additional oral component to a written exam.
- A written instead of oral examination.
- Writing an exam by hand that otherwise would be taken on a computer (e.g., Inspera exams).
- Oral presentation in smaller groups or with the teacher only.
- Dividing the exam into two components. May be suitable when the examination, including extra time, will exceed five hours.
The practical adaptation solutions available for on-campus written exams differ depending on the SLU campus. Some sites have a central exam administration service, others do not.
Chapter 8 of the Education Planning and Administration Handbook contains the rules about examinations. See Education Planning and Administration Handbook | Staff web (slu.se)
Checklist for course coordinators
Before course start
- Start the course page and publish the reading list no later than eight weeks before the course start. This is necessary as students who use talking books must have access to recorded literature by the start of the course.
- Publish the preliminary schedule at least four weeks before the course starts.
- On the course page, encourage students receiving study support to get in touch. State when, where and how they can contact you to discuss their adaptations for the course. Ask to see the student’s Nais decision when they contact you.
In conjunction with the course start
- Remind the students with study support to get in touch if they need adaptations. State when, where and how they can contact you to discuss their adaptations for the course. Ask to see the student’s Nais decision when they contact you.
- Try to create a positive dialogue with students about suitable adaptations. Use the Nais decision as a starting point, but do not assume that the student will always need to use all the support and adaptations for all situations. Instead, be sensitive to the student’s thoughts on the needs and solutions on a more detailed level.
Remember that all students must meet the same learning outcomes, but they can do so in different ways. Contact the responsible Funka coordinator if necessary. See Contact details for coordinators
- In certain cases, Funka can reimburse departments for any additional hours that are worked in conjunction with the adaptations. Always discuss and establish any additional costs for examinations or extra supervision with the coordinator in advance.
After the course
- Where appropriate, submit an internal invoice to the coordinator through Proceedo and include the agreed additional costs incurred following the adaptations.
Instructions for charging extra costs
Communicating with students and professional secrecy
Students ‘own’ their personal data and are responsible for contacting the relevant people, such as course coordinators, examiners, exam administration, the library, etc. If the student consents, the coordinator may contact the relevant people.
It is helpful to the student if the teacher invites them to discuss the adaptations they need for their course. Remember that some of the information the coordinator has about the student and the information you may be given in your role as course coordinator is confidential. Therefore, you must treat any details relating to the student’s integrity with great care.
The Funka coordinator will instruct or encourage the student to:
- Contact the course coordinator as soon as possible.
- The Nais decision will only be sent to the student. It is their duty to pass the information on to the necessary people.
- The examiner will determine which of the suggested adaptations are possible in relation to the intended course learning outcomes and so on.
- Prepare well in advance so the adaptations can be arranged. It helps students if teachers can specify deadlines.
Reimbursement for extra costs
SLU allocates central funding for study support for students with disabilities. Departments may occasionally be entitled to reimbursement for additional costs incurred following extra supervision or providing adapted assessments. The department needs to contact the supervisor in advance if they are to be reimbursed.
Contact the coordinator to discuss adaptations
The Funka coordinators are bound by professional secrecy, although if the student consents they may discuss adaptations for specific course components and examinations with the course coordinator. Otherwise, the discussions will be of a general nature and not address the needs of the individual student.
The coordinators can also visit departments and talk about study support for students with disabilities and making teaching accessible. Feel free to contact Funka and invite a coordinator to your department!
Legislation and guidelines
Resources for all students
SLU offers support and resources to all of our students, not just those with disabilities. You can publish a link to the support information pages on Canvas: Support for students