Friday, September 10, 2010

Disability Discrimination Act

Is this how we apply the Disability Discrimination Act? In yesterday's The Age newspaper, an 17-year old autistic boy is suing the Education Department for discrimination because his teacher refused to modify questions in his maths test. He wants the open ended questions to be removed, citing the Disability Discrimination Act. I couldn't help but think that this boy is asking for too much. Am I discriminating against him for thinking this way?

The purpose of a test is to measure a person's level of competency. You can only measure accurately if everyone sits for the same paper. If the paper were modified to suit some people's unique situation, we have to examine if the test will still be a useful gauge. It is one thing to ask for a bigger font in an exam paper if one has poor eyesight, but it is another if he is being tested for a newsreader position, for example. If a precedent is set for the above student, is he going to ask for the same treatment when he goes to a university? Or when he starts working?

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