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Understanding Accommodations

Academic accommodations are arrangements that are made for a student with a disability that provide them with an equal opportunity to meet the essential requirements of their courses or programs. They may include adjustments to the way information is presented in a specific course or the manner in which student knowledge is evaluated. Academic accommodations are recommended to enable students with disabilities the opportunity to learn and demonstrate their knowledge. They are meant to provide an equitable academic experience for students with disabilities and not to provide advantages.

Student with in a wheelchair working with representatives from the university's Student Accessibility Services (SAS)

In arranging academic accommodations, a collaborative relationship between faculty members and the Student Accessibility Services (SAS) team is critical to ensure that the accommodations are consistent with and supportive of the essential requirements of the course and provided in a way that respects the dignity of the student with a disability. Student Accessibility Services is responsible for assessing medical or psychological documentation concerning the student's disability, and recommending accommodation measures that would give students an equal opportunity to meet course requirements.

Instructors are made aware of approved accommodations for each student when a Notice of Accommodation is provided to them by Student Accessibility Services. Accommodations are specific to each student and may include:

  • Assistance obtaining class notes
  • Books and handouts in an accessible format
  • Classroom assistants
  • Disability counselling and support
  • Extra time or the use of technical supports for tests and exams
  • Sign language interpreters
  • Specialized software, such as text-to-speech or speech-to-text
  • Support from a Learning Strategist
  • Support from an Assistive Technologist

Services for students with disabilities are identified on an individual student basis and are based on the review of the medical or psycho-educational documentation which has been completed by the appropriate health care professional. The student is responsible for self-identifying and submitting documentation to the Student Accessibility Services office.

The student works collaboratively with their accessibility advisor or counsellor to develop an individualized accommodation plan and with the student's permission, each faculty member will receive a Notice of Accommodation letter. This lets the instructor(s) know that the noted accommodations have been approved based on the documentation provided. The contact information of the advisor or counsellor is on the letter.

It is a legal requirement that each student is accommodated as specified in the Notice of Accommodation. If you are not sure how to best meet the accommodation plan for your student, please discuss it with their accessibility counsellor or advisor.

Students may require note takers for a number of reasons, such as:
  • Visual or auditory impairment
  • Slow processing speed
  • Deficit in fine motor skills
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic physical pain
  • Inability to listen, write and comprehend material simultaneously

While every effort is made to fill all requests for note takers, we cannot guarantee that a volunteer will come forward for every class. Please communicate this to your students if they approach you.   

Students who use the services of a note taker are expected to attend all lectures, tutorials and labs.

Your assistance in finding a note taker may be requested in one of two ways.
  • Please post the request for note takers on Blackboard for all your classes. It is rare when there is not at least one student in every class who has note taking as an accommodation. Should the issue of finding a note taker become critical, Student Accessibility Services will send you an email with suggested text that you can copy into Blackboard. For your reference, please see the volunteer note taking program for the benefits to the note taker.
  • Alternatively, as a last resort, you may be asked to provide your notes to a student in need. We appreciate your cooperation.

For more information or support, contact studentaccessibility@ontariotechu.ca.

Student Accessibility Services expects students who require an accommodation to:

  • Register with Student Accessibility Services to discuss their need for accommodations with their assigned advisor or counsellor.
  • Provide recent psychological or medical documentation from a regulated health professional, which specifies how the disability impedes academic success.
  • Be an integral part of developing an appropriate accommodation plan.
  • Allow sufficient time to put accommodations in place.
  • If possible, meet with their instructors as needed to discuss their accommodations.
  • Use their secure university email account for written communication with university faculty and staff.
  • Fulfil the academic requirements for their degree.
  • Adhere to the university’s code of conduct as outlined in the Undergraduate and Graduate Academic calendars.

Confidentiality

All information about a student’s disability remains strictly confidential within the Student Accessibility Services office. Students must consent in writing before Student Accessibility Services will discuss their individual needs to faculty, administration, other professionals or even to their family.

It is important to note that if you speak to the student directly about their individual requirements, you cannot probe the student about their disability, only about the accommodations required. This conversation should take place in a confidential location. The student has the right to keep the nature of their disability private. If you have any questions about a student's accommodation needs, ask their assigned counsellor or advisor. Do not make any announcements in class or online that would in any way identify a student with a disability to the rest of the class.