Policy: Academic Accommodation for Students with Disabilities

Authorization: Senate, through the joint Board of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies
Established: 1994/95
Revised: May 2011, January 2013, September 2016

1.0    Subject

Policy for the academic accommodation of students with disabilities

2.0    Purpose, Scope and Definitions

2.1    In accordance with the University’s policies and procedures and applicable legislation including the Ontario Human Rights Code, and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the University of Guelph shall provide reasonable accommodation, short of undue hardship.

2.2    The University promotes the full participation of students in their academic program.  It is recognized that the provision of academic accommodation is a shared accountability and responsibility between the University and the student.

2.3    The purpose of this Policy Document is to identify the principles and responsibilities in the provision of academic accommodation for students with disabilities. This Policy does not address accommodation related to lifestyle or quality of life.

2.4    In the event of a discrepancy between this Policy Document and the Procedures Document, the Policy Document will apply.

2.5    Students studying at the University of Guelph-Humber will be subject to the policies and procedures of Humber College with regards to Academic Accommodations.

2.6    The following definitions shall apply in this Policy:

“Academic Accommodation” means modification to academic policies, procedures or the educational environment that would result in equal opportunity to attain the same level of performance, or to enjoy the same level of benefits and privileges enjoyed by others, and meets the student’s Disability-related needs. Examples of Academic Accommodations available may include, but are not limited to:

  • Advanced provision of reading lists and other course materials to allow for alternate format transcription;
  • Alternate scheduling for the completion of course, project, thesis work, or examinations, including competency examinations;
  • Extensions to program completion time limits;
  • Use of assistive technology in the classroom/laboratory/field (e.g. FM systems worn by Course Instructors);
  • Use of oral and visual language interpreters and/or note takers in the classroom;
  • Use of audio and/or visual recording or webcast of lectures;
  • Use of adaptive technology and alternate format text for written materials;
  • Support for examinations including extra time, a private or semi-private room, use of a computer, adaptive software or word processor, or access to a reader or scribe as needed;
  • Special seating; wheelchair accessible tables; or
  • Adjustment to academic loads.

“Chair” means head of an academic unit and includes a Department Chair or School Director.

“Course Instructor(s)” is defined as the individual(s) teaching the course or coordinating the program; or in the case of graduate students, can include a faculty advisor or advisory committee.

“Dean” means the dean of the college that has the responsibility for the course or program.

“Disability or Disabilities” has the same meaning as under the Ontario Human Rights Code in force and as amended from time to time.  Disabilities may include those which are permanent or those which fall under the definition of Temporary Disabilities.  Disabilities may include but are not limited to:

  • Learning Disabilities
  • Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”)
  • Hearing and/or vision impairments
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Medical disabilities
  • Dexterity or mobility impairments
  • Acquired brain injuries
  • Psychological/emotional disabilities

“Diagnostic Information” means the description of a diagnostic procedure, treatment, or underlying cause of a health condition, including a Diagnosis.

“Diagnosis” means the identification of a specific disease or disorder as the cause of a set of symptoms. 

“Essential Requirement” means a task or activity that is core to the specific learning outcomes of a course or program.

“Examinations” include but are not limited to midterms, tests, quizzes, lab examinations or final examinations, competency examinations and defences.

“In-course Academic Accommodations” means Academic Accommodations for courses in which the student is currently registered. 

“Interim Academic Accommodations” means appropriate Academic Accommodations offered for up to a maximum of two semesters while a student is in the process of obtaining appropriate supporting documentation.  The student may be required to produce evidence that the documentation process is underway.

“Learning Disabilities” has the same meaning as found in either: (a) the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, as published by the American Psychological Association; or (b) the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario; at the discretion of the diagnosing clinician.

“Notification” means formal written notification from SAS of the appropriate types of Academic Accommodations.  

“Regulated Health Professional” has the same meaning found in the Regulated Health Professions Act, in force and as amended from time to time.

“Temporary Disability” means a disability that may not be permanent but does not include short-term common ailments or illnesses such as a cold or the flu. 

“SAS” means Student Accessibility Services at the University of Guelph. 

“Supplementary Academic Accommodation” has the meaning found in section 5.3 of the Procedures Document.

3.0    Principles for the Provision of Academic Accommodation 

3.1    A student will be required to provide satisfactory documentation to SAS in accordance with section 4 of the Procedures from an appropriate Regulated Health Professional in order to substantiate the existence of a Disability and describe the functional limitations experienced.

3.2    Students will not be required to disclose Diagnostic Information to Course Instructors in order to receive an Academic Accommodation.

3.3    A student who is undergoing diagnostic assessment or who needs a reasonable opportunity to acquire documentation in support of Academic Accommodations can request Interim Academic Accommodations.

3.4    Decisions regarding Academic Accommodations are made on an individual basis and must be consistent with the Essential Requirements of the course or program. 

3.5    A student may request retroactive consideration.  Information on these procedures is provided in the academic calendars under the Academic Consideration policy.

3.6    The ultimate responsibility for the academic programming and educational policy of the University rests with Senate, and nothing in this Policy will be interpreted so as to alter Senate’s jurisdiction.

4.0    Periodic Review Process

In order to ensure that this policy continues to be effective, it shall be reviewed periodically.  The Associate Vice-President Student Affairs is responsible for initiating this review no less than every five years.

5.0    Relevant Legislation & External Policy

6.0    Related University Policies, Procedures & Documents

6.1    Diversity & Human Rights: website includes the University’s Human Rights policy and information about accessibility initiatives at the University.

6.2    SAS website includes information about how SAS facilitates academic accommodations and the process of registering for services.

6.3    Information about Academic Consideration can be found as follows:

  1. Section VIII “Undergraduate Degree Regulations and Procedures” of the Undergraduate Calendar.
  2. Section II “General Regulations” of the Graduate Calendar.
  3. Section VIII “Associate Diploma Regulations and Procedures” of the Diploma Program Calendar.
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