Overview of Changes, Fall 2016

The policy and procedures documents relating to academic accommodations for students with disabilities were updated in the fall 2016 semester.  Below is a general overview of the changes.

Policy Document

  1. Added statement regarding Guelph-Humber (item 2.5) to reflect our practice since the opening of programs on that campus.
  2. All definitions moved to the policy document; some were previously in the procedures. 
  3. Examples of academic accommodations moved from the procedures document to the definitions section of the policy document.
  • Removed “adjustment to lighting or ventilation” as this is not typically possible.  When this is a concern, we typically look for alternative solutions (e.g. wearing sunglasses in class for light sensitivity).
  • Added “Adjustment to academic loads” to reflect our current practice.  Some academic programs require students to maintain a specific academic load, which must be accommodated in the case of some disabilities.
  1. Definition of “disability or disabilities” now acknowledges that some conditions are temporary and others are permanent, and that both can be accommodated (per recommendations from the Ontario Human Rights Commission).
  • Added “autism spectrum disorder” to the list of examples
  • Changed “physical disabilities” to “dexterity or mobility impairments” in order to acknowledge that there is a physical dimension to all types of disabilities.
  1. Added the following definitions: 
  • Academic Accommodation
  • Diagnostic Information
  • Diagnosis
  • Essential Requirements replaces the term “Academic Integrity” to avoid confusion with the principles of academic honesty.  The notion of the integrity of a course or program is still referenced in 2.0 of the procedures document.
  • Interim Academic Accommodations
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Regulated Health Professional
  • Temporary Disability which does not include common short-term ailments or illnesses such as a cold or the flu.
  • SAS (Student Accessibility Services) replaces the name CSD (Centre for Students with Disabilities)
  • Supplementary Academic Accommodation
  1. The following items have been added in order to respond to direction from the Ontario Human Rights Commission:
  • Item 3.2 – students cannot be required to disclose “diagnostic information” to course instructors in order to receive academic accommodations.  SAS acts as a moderator in gathering information about the nature of a disability within the guidelines from the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and then collaborating on decision-making about accommodations.
  • Item 3.3 – it has been our practice for many years that students would be accommodated on an interim basis while documentation is being pursued.  Compelling evidence is still required to substantiate the existence of a disability. 
  • Item 3.5 – the Ontario Human Rights Commission indicates that all requests for “retroactive accommodations” must be considered. Examples might include becoming incapacitated and missing an exam, or becoming ill during an exam.  The University of Guelph will continue to manage such requests through the Academic Consideration policy.
  1. Section 6 is new (related policies, procedures and documents) and helps to connect the reader with other relevant information.  This is also helpful for future revisions in order to ensure all policy statements remain aligned.

Procedures Document

  1. Section 1 (Admissions) has been removed.  Applicants are not considered “students” and it is important not to conflate the two.  Accommodations for applicants should be addressed in admissions policies.  A review of needed changes may be warranted.
  2. Item 2.0 is new and draws on concepts found in various statements in the previous versions of the policy and procedures document.
  3. Section 3.1 describes the role of SAS.  There has been no change in the mandate of SAS, although some items are now more clearly articulated.
  4. Items 3.3 (d) and (e) have been added to reflect current practice – students are expected to make contact with SAS within a reasonable time frame in order to arrange for academic accommodations.
  5. Item 3.4 is new and addresses how the University will respond when there is insufficient notice from a student about the need for an academic accommodation.
  6. Item 3.6 now includes examples of when it might be necessary to shift the timing of an examination that is administered in the SAS Exam Centre.  Such changes must still be approved by the course instructor.
  7. Clarification has been added to section 4.1 that documentation of a disability must come from a regulated health professional who has the authority to diagnose the particular disability.
  8. Item 4.2 addresses when documentation is considered current.
  9. Item 4.3 describes the nature of the documentation required to substantiate the existence of a disability.  Emphasis is now on functional limitations rather than a diagnosis as per direction from the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
  • Note that a diagnosis is optional but not required for all types of disabilities except learning disabilities.  In the case of learning disabilities, a psycho-educational assessment is required in order to understand learning the profile of the student and the required accommodations.  These reports are unavoidably diagnostic in nature.
  1. Item 4.4 addresses some of the unique characteristics of a psycho-educational assessment.  Sub-items (e) and (f) are consistent with standards for these reports, but have not been specifically addressed in our policy in the past.
  2. Item 4.5 is newly added and affirms that the University retains ultimate decision-making authority for accommodations, rather than a physician or psychologist who may not understand the relevant academic context.
  3. Item 5.3 labels all accommodations other than those provided directly by SAS as “supplementary academic accommodations”.
  4. Item 5.4 responds to a request from the Ontario Human Rights Commission that students not be required to approach a faculty member directly in order to receive academic accommodations.
  5. The last sentence of item 6.3 is new, and suggests that when consensus regarding academic accommodations has not be reached, alternatives should be considered.
  6. Item 7.1 offers a mechanism for appeal when a student is turned down for note taking, specific classroom seating, or supports in the SAS Exam Centre.
  7. Item 7.2 offers a mechanism for appeal when SAS declines to support a student’s request for an academic accommodation that would need approval from a course instructor.
Exam Centre Deadline

November 3 is the last day to book tests, midterms and final exams with the Exam Centre for the fall semester 2017. Book Now!