What to expect when you can’t come to campus for disability-related reasons

Earning credits in a course that is designed for on-campus participation when you cannot come to campus can be challenging. Your SAS Advisor can help you explore the feasibility of different options. This page is intended to help you anticipate some of the points of discussion that may arise. 


If you cannot come to campus most or all of the time, we require documentation that answers a series of specific questions. Please speak with us about your needs so we can guide you on what is required. 

Be Kind to Yourself 

If you are experiencing a significant illness that is likely to result in missing several weeks of the semester, you may wish to evaluate whether this is the right time to register for courses. When students fall behind, they often feel badly or overwhelmed by the situation and this can further intensify symptoms, make it difficult to stay motivated, and negatively impact your overall learning. In addition, the stress of catching up can intensify the situation further.  

Taking care of your health should come first.  

Beware of Financial Implications 

When you register for courses, your tuition pays for access to “educational services.” If you use those services (CourseLink, assignments, the Library, etc.) and subsequently withdraw from the semester, you will not ordinarily be eligible for a refund of the tuition you paid for that time period.  

Listen to expert advice about what is reasonable to expect of yourself. Are you in a good position to engage with learning? How many courses are likely to be manageable? As a rough estimate, allow for 10 hours of intellectually challenging work each week per 0.5 credits. 

Remote Courses for Remote Learning 

If there are courses available that satisfy your degree requirements and are designed for virtual/distance learning, these must be prioritized before registering for courses that are offered in an on-campus format. 

This may include taking courses from another university that can be counted towards your U of G degree if they satisfy the same learning outcomes.  This is known as a “Letter Of Permission”. 

Independent Learning 

Depending on the nature of an on-campus course, we may be able to arrange access to the content/information you need to learn. This often requires advanced planning, so discussion with your SAS Advisor should be initiated before the semester begins (preferably prior to course selection). 

During class, the instructor’s attention will be on the students who are physically present in the room. Providing access to listen/watch remotely depends on the course, the setup of the room, available technology, etc. In some cases, this may not be possible, and you would need to rely on assigned readings and other written materials. 

Given the amount of time, skills, knowledge, and work involved with planning and designing courses, those that are intended to be in-person will not be redesigned on an ad hoc basis to provide an equivalent virtual learning experience. Instructors are not required to “double teach” (once in-person and again online). 


Notetaking services are designed to supplement students’ learning when they are present in class. Engaging with the instructor and other students is frequently an important part of the learning process. Relying on notes as an alternative to being present in class is risky as it may not provide the same quality of experience.  

Mandatory On-Campus Activities 

Many academic programs have mandatory on-campus academic requirements that cannot be translated into a virtual learning experience. Examples include (but are not limited to): 

  • Making use of lab equipment or specialized supplies  

  • Ensuring health and safety during hands-on learning  

  • Developing skills associated with interacting with people, animals, equipment, or materials  

  • Performance of an artistic work  

  • Exploring an environment or location as a part of academic inquiry or experiential learning  

  • Making a presentation in a manner common for a relevant profession 

Note that participating in group discussion and problem-solving can sometimes be replicated in an online learning situation, but not always. The dynamics of online discussions are qualitatively different from those that are in-person. Whether this is possible in a given course will depend on the design of the learning activities and the intended outcomes of the course. 

Policy and Procedures 

Decision-making about the feasibility of a request for accommodation will be made based on the principles of undue hardship, and maintaining bona fide academic requirements, in keeping with U of G policy

Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic 

When all regular on-campus activities were suspended, many instructors adopted new and more flexible approaches to course delivery, which has improved accessibility for many students. As we continue to learn from these experiences, some approaches have been integrated into ongoing course-design, and others have been set aside. 

It is important to keep in mind: 

  • Some courses with essential in-person activities were cancelled until students were able to return to campus. 

  • Some in-person activities were temporarily shifted to courses students would be required to take later in their degrees. 

  • While most courses were being delivered virtually, a few still required students to come to campus from time to time. 

  • Instructors were only required to teach using one delivery method at a time (e.g. livestreaming a lecture, or facilitating a virtual conversation). 

  • Some approaches were used as a last resort, but were found to be significantly less effective than in-person learning. 

Important: Tests & Exams

If you use the SAS Exam Centre, please remember that all test and exam bookings must be submitted at least 10 BUSINESS DAYS ahead of when you intend to write.

In addition, the last day any bookings can be received is the first business day in November, March or July as appropriate for the semester.
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