What are academic accommodations?

Academic accommodations are adjustments to the learning environment that support your academic endeavours while at the same time maintaining the essential academic requirements of the course and program of study. Accommodations are meant to remove barriers while providing neither an academic advantage nor disadvantage to students.

Here’s an example of how academic accommodations work. Due to a disability such as multiple sclerosis, or some forms of learning disability, or because of the side effects of certain medications used in treating students with mental health disabilities, students may experience great difficulty with tasks requiring fine motor skills such as handwriting. This may affect how quickly and legibly they can write. A reasonable academic accommodation in this instance might be extended time and/or use of a computer to complete written tests and examinations where the intent is to evaluate students’ knowledge or analytical skills in relation to the topics encompassed by the test or examination, and the evaluation can be done fairly once the student has had the opportunity to write legibly.

Determining accommodations that meet your needs.

Your diagnostic assessment report will be reviewed by a qualified accessibility counsellor. This is the beginning of an interactive process whereby you and an accessibility counsellor will discuss:

  • Your learning style.
  • Your academic program of study.
  • The method of course delivery and the type of participation required of students (e.g. lecture, seminar, tutorial, practicum).
  • The nature of your disability and its impact on the post-secondary learning process.
  • The recommended accommodations in the diagnostic assessment report.

Determining which accommodations are appropriate is a shared responsibility among students, the accessibility counsellor, and the professor or course director in each course. Although professors are not “disability experts”, they are the authority in their field and in the course they teach; therefore, sometimes they may suggest a more appropriate, practical or creative accommodation that best suits the course and respects academic integrity.

The process of accommodation is very individualized. Students diagnosed with the same type of disability may have very different accommodation plans. The accessibility counsellor will consider the recommendations in the diagnostic report along with the other factors noted above. Depending on the circumstances, additional, or sometimes, fewer, accommodations may be recommended to your professors.

Provided that the recommended accommodations do not undermine the academic integrity of the course, they will be implemented as recommended.

Informing your Course Directors about the recommended accommodations.

Once accommodations have been determined, we will provide accommodation letters to you that you will take to each Course Director, informing them of the recommended accommodations for testing and examinations, and in class if any are to be provided or accessed there with the permission or participation of the Course Director. The specific diagnosis and nature of your disability are not disclosed in this letter. Except for the accommodation(s) recommended, we do not release information about your disability without your written consent.

We encourage students to meet with the Course Director during their office hours to discuss the recommended accommodations. Provided that the accommodations do not undermine the academic standards or integrity of the course, the Course Director is expected to comply with the recommendations (see above for more information about appropriate accommodations). If Course Directors have any concerns with the recommendations, they may discuss them with you and the accessibility counsellor so that an acceptable resolution can be achieved.