The University should revise speaking/presentation assessments to make them less ableist 

Passed: November 2022 (29th)

What do you want/Why do you want it?

Right now, disabled students get exam access arrangements through disability services, but these are based only on written exams. The onus is completely on students to individually set up their own access arrangements for verbal based exams with teaching staff, and for those teaching staff to follow through. Ultimately, this usually ends with the student being sent on a wild goose chase between various staff members, which adds to exam stress. This also creates a fundamental difficulty as staff may be unequipped to deal with what is or is not a reasonable adjustment.

This proposal states that all faculties and/or schools should be instructed to revise their exam guidance and processes. Obviously different schools have different needs, but I am adding what I think should be the main points of change:

1. Entirely scrap any reference to 'maintaining good eye contact'. It is ableist for disabled students to be graded on something they just cannot do. This particularly effects autistic students, along with students with mental health difficulties like anxiety. This could be either entirely removed, or replaced with something more along the lines of 'audience engagement' 

2. Make access arrangements a clear part of exam policy so that everyone's on the same page. This could mean extra time, altering the way questions are asked, extra word allowance (if a script/memo can be used), one on one assessment rather than presenting to a crowd, etc. etc.  

I have brought this up in the past, and had staff members largely agree with me, but nothing is done about it due to the vague promise of future curriculum changes. However, these changes are planned to run over the next decade. Students are facing unfair assessments right NOW. I therefore want there to be a formal policy so that there's extra pressure to act.

Expires: November 2025 (29th)

Submitted By: Livi Roberts

Officer: Education

Area of Work: Education


31/05/23 - There will be update to this in light of Reasonable Adjustment Policy which went to Quality & Standards Committee in May. Harriet Cannon is presenting and workshopping something on this at Assesment Lead Network. Asking about what needs to be done to ensure that guidelines are endorsed. 

24/02/23:University has acknowledged that this is a problem of inconsistency- they do put guidance out there but not always followed. They agree that eye contact etc should not make up criteria for effective communication. 

-The next meeting of the Assessment Lead network will focus on the topic of Inclusive Assessment of Oral Presentations. This is taking place mid March and Harriet will come and present. They'll ask Academic Leads to give their perspective and comment on practice in their school. There will be further actions coming out of that meeting. 

-Alice will speak to other regarding to organise a webinar on this topic with (hopefully) a guest speaker with expertise in this area. We already have someone in mind who is an academic with a stammer who has done extensive work on this topic. We'll invite key stakeholders to this and we'll open it to LUU and School Reps too. 

05/12/22-New Policy. Bethan is going to have an initial meeting with the idea holder, Livi.