A deaf student who was denied access to a note-taking aide is suing TAFE Illawarra for discrimination.
Catherine Perkiss wants $25,000 in damages, a written apology from the TAFE Illawarra Institute director, and an order that the institute reinstate her note-taker.
The 53-year-old claims she was provided with the aide during previous TAFE studies, but the support was withdrawn the day before she started her first diploma-level studies at West Wollongong campus.
Ms Perkiss took her complaint to the Federal Court on August 12 after conciliation efforts in the Australian Human Rights Commission were unsuccessful.
She told the commission she became "upset and extremely disappointed" when told on February 4 she would have no note-taker for the course, a Diploma of Photo Imaging.
"I need to use my eyes to watch the Auslan interpreter throughout the class ... and therefore cannot write my own notes," Ms Perkiss wrote.
A letter from TAFE's manager of equity services noted Ms Perkiss was receiving other kinds of support, including the continued services of the interpreter, access to course notes and two hours of weekly one-on-one support.
But Ms Perkiss disagreed that the course notes were a "reasonable adjustment" to address her needs, saying they were available to every student, and did not cover "substantial components" of what was said in the classroom.
She claims the weekly support sessions do not compensate for the loss of the note-taker, as they are carried out without contemporaneous class notes.
She wrote that she had grown "extremely anxious" about failing.
"This is very unfair that I am put under this amount of stress and I have broken down crying many times as the stress gets to me more and more as the weeks go by without the support I need.
"I am struggling and falling behind ... the stress of being forced to try and memorise three whole classes worth of information each week, at a total of 15 hours every week, is not just extremely stressful, but literally impossible."
The State of NSW (TAFE Commission) is named alongside TAFE Illawarra as a respondent in the proceedings.
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