Site Accessibility Statement
Wilfrid Laurier University University Secretariat
April 24, 2014
 
 
Canadian Excellence

2.4 Academic Accommodation of Undergraduate Students with Disabilities



Approved By:
Senate
Original Approval Date:
May 11, 2005
Date of Most Recent Review/Revision:
August 24, 2006 (editorial)
Office of Accountability:
Vice-President: Academic
Administrative Responsibility:
Accessible Learning Office

I. PRINCIPLES REGARDING ACCOMMODATION OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES

A. Application of the Ontario Human Rights Code
The Ontario Human Rights Code, Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1990, Chapter H.19. states that it is public policy in Ontario to recognize the inherent dignity and worth of every person and to provide for equal rights and opportunities without discrimination. Wilfrid Laurier University is committed to upholding these principles, as they apply to the provision of academic services. Part I, Section 1 of the Code states: Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods, and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, same sex partnership status, family status, or handicap. (1981,c53,s. 1; 1986,c.64,s.18(1); 1999, c.6, s.28(1); 2001, c.32, s.27(1))
B. Definition of Disability

The definition of the term "disability," for the purposes of this policy, is as defined in the Ontario Human Rights Code.
C. Duty to Provide Evidence of Disability

It is recognized that there is a duty on the student to provide relevant and recent psychological or medical documentation that substantiates his/her disability. The student must also demonstrate that the disability has an impact on his/her ability to benefit equally from the Universityís educational services.
D. Duty to Accommodate

It is recognized that the University has an obligation to make its services available in a manner that does not discriminate. This duty involves accommodating students with disabilities in accordance with the terms of the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Accommodation involves treating students with disabilities in a way that respects their dignity and provides them with equality of opportunity. Once accommodated and hence provided with an equal opportunity, it is the student's responsibility to meet the essential requirements of a course/programme.
E. Limitations on the Duty to Accommodate

1. Undue Hardship
The University is required to accommodate students with disabilities to the point of "undue hardship." The Ontario Human Rights Code prescribes three (3) factors to be considered in assessing whether a requested accommodation would cause undue hardship. These are: (1) cost; (2) availability of outside sources of funding; and (3) health and safety requirements. There may be other factors that are relevant, including, but not limited to , the degree that an accommodation negatively impacts other students, staff, and faculty, and/or the academic integrity of the program. Costs are considered in the context of the University as a whole, not on the basis of a Department, Faculty or programme. The onus is on the University to prove "undue hardship."
2. Essential Requirements
The University is required to make efforts to reasonably accommodate a student with a disability when the disability impairs the studentís ability to fulfil the essential requirements of a course/programme. In some circumstances, the nature and degree of a disability may mean that no reasonable accommodation would enable an individual to perform the essential requirements of a course/programme. In these cases, accommodations will be considered, but may be refused if necessary in order to preserve the academic integrity (meaning the essential requirements) of a course/programme. A person cannot be presumed incapable of performing the essential requirements of a course/programme unless an effort has been made to canvass all reasonable options for accommodation. In a university setting, the essential requirements of a course/programme may include, but are not limited to, the knowledge and skills which must be acquired or demonstrated in order for a student to successfully meet the learning objectives of the course/programme.
F. Accommodation Specific to the Individual

In fulfilling its obligation to accommodate students with disabilities, the University recognizes that the needs of each student with a disability must be assessed individually to determine the appropriate accommodations. Not all students with the same disability will have the same needs.
G. Confidentiality

The University is concerned with protecting the privacy and confidentiality of students with disabilities. At the same time, the University needs sufficient information to reasonably evaluate and respond to a student's request for accommodation. For this reason, students who request accommodation are required to provide information concerning the nature of their disability, their needs and restrictions.

At times, the accommodation process may require that the student disclose such information to staff and faculty, beyond the Accessible Learning Centre, on the basis that they need to know this information to perform their duties under the terms of this policy. All information regarding a students disability will be governed by the "Wilfrid Laurier University Guidelines on Access to Information and Protection of Privacy."
H. Flexibility

The provision of accommodations for students with disabilities will require that students, instructors and administrative staff all exercise creativity and flexibility in crafting solutions that both meet the needs of the students, and preserve the essential academic requirements of the University's courses/programmes.

II. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

The provision of academic accommodations is based on a collaborative process that includes many individuals and groups within the University. Effective and open communication among those involved in the accommodation process is the key optimizing the likelihood of success.

A. The Accessible Learning Centre
The Accessible Learning Centre is dedicated to the overall academic development of students with disabilities who register with the Centre. The Centre shall coordinate requests for, and assist in the provision of accommodations by:

1. receiving and verifying a studentís psychological or medical documentation, which will be provided by an approved and regulated health professional and is recent and relevant in nature;

2. reviewing all documentation and consulting with each student individually to determine if s/he qualifies for services;

3. providing support and counselling to students with disabilities when requested;

4. assisting and providing information to instructors, Chairs, Deans or his/her delegate and other administrative staff as needed;

5. ensuring that all student information and all medical and psychological documentation is treated confidentially, subject to disclosure as necessary to effect the accommodation or as required by law, and maintained in individual student files within the centre;

6. where appropriate, developing a proposed accommodation plan, based on the studentís needs and available course/program information and requirements;

7. communicating the proposed accommodation plan in writing by confidential e-mail to the instructor(s)/Department(s) as appropriate and in a timely fashion.
B. Roles and Responsibilities of Students
The University recognizes the importance of a student's experience and knowledge with respect to his or her disability and its impact on learning. This being so, it is imperative that the student with the disability participate fully in determining the appropriate accommodations. Students needing accommodation shall:

1. self-identify to the Accessible Learning Centre and discuss whether an accommodation will allow them to meet the essential requirements of a course/programme;

2. discuss with the Accessible Learning Centre any required accommodations in a timely manner as outlined in this policy;

3. provide to the Accessible Learning Centre any relevant and recent psychological or medical documentation (from an approved and regulated health professional) to substantiate their disability and any resultant restrictions;

4. work with the Accessible Learning Centre, instructors, and others to develop an appropriate accommodation plan for each term;

5. follow the procedures outlined in this policy when an accommodation is required, and comply with the Accessible Learning Centre's instructions relating to the implementation of any specific accommodation;

6. meet with instructors as needed to discuss arrangements for accommodations.
C. Roles and Responsibilities of Instructors
Instructors play a vital role in shaping a student's post-secondary educational experience. An important relationship for many university students is the one established between themselves and their instructors, one which can be key to success for many students. Although this relationship is very important to all students, it becomes more so, perhaps, for students with disabilities, whose academic success may rely on good communication with their instructors. All requests to instructors for accommodation must first be discussed with the Accessible Learning Centre.

To facilitate a student's academic success and maintain the University's standards for the benefit of all students, instructors shall:

1. indicate to students who raise disability and/or accommodation issues that they should first discuss these matters with the Accessible Learning Centre;

2. if requested, identify the essential requirements of a course;

3. participate, as appropriate, in structuring a suitable accommodation plan that meets the needs of the student and satisfies the essential requirements of the respective course/programme;

4. refer any proposed accommodation plan that has substantial financial implications to the Chair of the department;

5. work cooperatively with Accessible Learning in announcing requests for tutors, educational assistants and note-takers when required.

There may be occasions when an acceptable accommodation plan cannot be agreed upon. Refer to Section IV of this document for an explanation of appeal procedures.
D. Roles and Responsibilities of Department Chairs/Program Directors (P.D.)
Department Chairs and Program Directors may act as educators and assist instructors to informally resolve accommodation issues. When required by the policy, a Department Chair/Program Director may review an instructor's decision not to provide accommodation.

The Department Chair or Program Director shall:

1. provide an opportunity for all faculty members to familiarize themselves with this policy;

2. ensure that instructors receive departmental resources and support necessary to implement any accepted accommodation plan;

3. review, upon a student's request and in accordance with Section IV of this policy, an instructor's decision not to provide an accommodation.
E. Roles and Responsibilities of the Deans, Associate Deans or designates
The Dean, Associate Dean or designate shall:

1. work in conjunction with the Department Chairs/Program Directors to ensure that all instructors are made aware of this policy and that the practices associated with the delivery of accommodation services are consistent with this policy;

2. consult with students and the Accessible Learning Centre, upon request, when students have first identified their need for accommodation. This may occur prior to registration, following registration, or when a student first approaches the Accessible Learning Centre with an accommodation request;

3. discuss with the student and the Accessible Learning Centre any Department or Faculty concerns about the accommodations and /or how the accommodations relate to the essential requirements of the course/programme;

4. refer any accommodation plan that has substantial financial implications to the Vice President, Academic;

5. review, upon a student's request, a Department Chair/Program Director's decision not to provide accommodation.
F. Roles and Responsibilities of the Registrar's Office
The Registrar's Office shall:

1. forward any accommodation requests and related documentation provided by a student, before or at the time of registration, to the Accessible Learning Centre;

2. collaborate with the Accessible Learning Centre in planning and implementing all aspects of accommodations required for individual students with disabilities scheduled to write examinations. These include, but are not restricted to, such accommodations as: extra time on exams, separate locations for writing, enlarged exams, provision of a scribe, etc.;

3. ensure that the security measures for such examinations are equivalent to those provided for all other Registrar administered exams;

4. provide assistance, in consultation with the Accessible Learning Centre, in implementing other accommodations where the requirements fall within the jurisdiction of the Registrar's Office, for example, the provision of special time- tabling or classroom use.

III. PROCEDURES FOR OBTAINING ACCOMMODATION

A. University Applicants
Laurier encourages applications from students with disabilities. Laurier will, on request, provide admission information to applicants in alternate format (e-text, Braille, audio tape, etc.) within a reasonable time frame.

In accordance with general admission procedures, Laurier will accept academically qualified candidates for admission to undergraduate programs by examining each applicant's academic record and the impact of any extenuating circumstances.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to declare their disability in the application process, and to seek assistance in selecting their courses/programmes from the Accessible Learning Centre together with their prospective Faculty.

As with all applicants, those with disabilities are encouraged to select programmes that are appropriate for their skills, abilities, and career goals.

In the event that questions arise during the application process pertaining to the applicant's ability, even when reasonably accommodated, to fulfill the essential requirements of a programme:

1. the issue will be discussed with the Dean or delegate of the applicant's prospective Faculty and the Director of the Accessible Learning Centre.

2. The Dean or delegate shall review the essential requirements of the programme and work with the applicant and the Director of the Accessible Learning Centre to determine what, if any, accommodations might be reasonable to enable the applicant to meet the requirements.

3. In the event that the Dean or delegate determines that accommodation would cause undue hardship, the applicant shall be so informed and other options shall be discussed. Failure of the Dean or delegate to raise any objections should not be interpreted as a guarantee of any sort, that the applicant will, in fact, be able to meet the essential requirements of the programme or of any specific course in the future.

4. In the event that any questions arise during the application process pertaining to the University's ability to reasonably accommodate the applicant without undue hardship, the issue will be discussed with the Vice President, Academic.

5. In the event that the Vice President, Academic determines that the University is unable to accommodation the applicant without undue hardship, the applicant shall be so informed and other options shall be discussed.

6. All personal information disclosed in the application process may be used by the appropriate staff and faculty members (including but not limited to the Registrarís Office, the Accessible Learning Centre, the Dean or delegate of the student's Faculty and the Vice President, Academic) to make decisions relating to admission.

7. The Accessible Learning Centre and the Harassment and Discrimination Coordinator are available throughout the admission process to assist, support and counsel students with disabilities, as well as faculty and administrative staff.
B. Requests for Accommodation
When a student is seeking an accommodation in an assignment, course or programme, they will first contact the Accessible Learning Centre. Staff from the Centre will work with students to develop an accommodation plan where appropriate, which staff will present to the instructor or Program Director for discussion and approval.
C. Timing of Accommodation Requests
To ensure that the Department, Faculty and the Accessible Learning Centre have sufficient time to properly review requests and to coordinate any necessary arrangements, students are responsible for making their requests for accommodations and for submitting all required medical documentation as soon as possible each term, or in the case of first-year and transfer students, before the term commences. Some accommodations take longer to arrange than others (e.g., sign-language interpreting and transcriptions), thus, students with these types of requests should be particularly cognizant of the timing of their requests. Failure to make a request or to supply the required medical documentation in a timely manner may delay or prevent implementation of the requested accommodation.

Following are some guidelines to be used by students in filing their material:

1. First-year and transfer students are encouraged to contact the Accessible Learning Centre and provide the required information as soon as possible after they receive their offers of admission;

2. When transcription of texts, sign-language interpreting or other time-sensitive accommodations are required, students must communicate any changes in course selection, scheduling or level of accommodations at the same time as the changes are made with the Office of the Registrar;

3. In any event, the required information must be provided each term before the last day for the withdrawal from courses without academic penalty (as published each year in the University Undergraduate Calendar);

4. Students whose circumstances change or who develop difficulties after the aforementioned dates, should contact the Accessible Learning Centre and their Dean's Office immediately;

5. All students are expected to provide the required information each term. Accommodations for new courses/programmes are not made automatically;

6. All special arrangements for in-class tests should be confirmed with the instructor and/or the Accessible Learning Centre at least two weeks prior to the test. Except in exceptional circumstances, in-class tests under 45 minutes in length are not coordinated by Accessible Learning and thus, the Centre cannot guarantee that in-class tests are accommodated. Students should check with each instructor before the close of course selection to determine testing schedules and styles.
D. Assessment of Requests and Preparation of an Accommodation Plan
The Accessible Learning Centre will:

1. meet with the student and review all documentation provided;

2. consult with the departmental undergraduate advisor, instructor, or Chair for further course requirements if required;

3. develop a proposed accommodation plan based on how the student's needs interact with course requirements;

4. send the proposed accommodation plan (via e-mail) to the instructor(s); if s/he has not yet been named, the department Chair will be considered the designate;

5. be available to discuss a studentís accommodations with instructors on request.

The instructor and/or department chair will:

1. upon receipt of a proposed accommodation plan for a student, reply within two (2) days, in writing via e-mail, of acceptance of the accommodations as written, or request a discussion of the proposed accommodations with the Accessible Learning Centre.
E. Review of Accommodations if not accepted
Should an instructor not agree with the accommodations proposed, they will contact the Accessible Learning Centre as stated above, to arrange a meeting with the staff and the student.
F. Financial Issues
If at any time during the review process, the instructor, the Chair or the Dean or designate decide that there are substantial financial implications to granting the requested accommodation, the plan will be forwarded directly to the Vice President, Academic. The Vice President, Academic shall meet with the Director of Accessible Learning to review the plan. After consulting, if he/she determines that the plan will not result in undue financial hardship to the University, the matter shall be returned to the appropriate Faculty.

On the other hand, if the Vice President, Academic, after consulting as above, determines that the plan cannot be implemented without undue financial hardship to the University, he/she shall notify the Accessible Learning Centre in writing within five (5) working days of being contacted, that the accommodation shall not be granted.

IV. APPEALS PROCESSES

A. Appleals by Instructors or Department Chairs
1. If, after meeting with the Accessible Learning Centre and the student, the instructor does not agree with the proposed accommodation plan (based on the principles outlined in Section I of this policy and excluding the financial implications of the plan as outlined below), the instructor shall discuss the matter with the Chair/Program Director of the Department within five (5) working days of receipt of the accommodation request.

2. If the Chair or Program Director, after such consultation, agrees with the terms of the proposed accommodation plan, or a revised plan, the accommodation shall be granted and the Chair/Program Director shall so advise the Accessible Learning Centre and the student. However, if the Chair/Program Director agrees with the instructor that the accommodation is not appropriate, the Chair/Program Director shall forward all relevant documentation, within five (5) working days of being contacted by the instructor, to the Dean, Associate Dean or designate for his/her review.

3. The Dean, Associate Dean or designate shall, in turn, review all relevant documentation and consult with the student, the Director of Accessible Learning and other appropriate offices in an effort to resolve the matter. If the Dean, Associate Dean or designate concludes that the student should be accommodated in accordance with the proposed accommodation plan, or a revised plan, the accommodation shall be granted and the Dean, Associate Dean or designate shall notify the Accessible Learning Centre, the instructor and the Chair of the Department.

4. If the Dean, Associate Dean or designate concludes that the accommodation is not appropriate, they shall notify the Accessible Learning Centre in writing within five (5) days of being contacted by the Chair/Program Director, that the accommodation shall not be granted. A copy of this letter shall be sent to the student, the instructor, the Chair/Program Director of the student's Faculty and the Accessible Learning Centre.
B. Appeals by Students
If the Dean, Associate Dean or designate ultimately concludes that a proposed accommodation plan is not appropriate, the student may appeal this decision to the Vice-President, Academic within two (2) weeks of receiving the Dean, Associate Dean or designateís decision.
C. Appeals by Instructors or Chairs/Program Directors to Deanís Decision
If either the instructor and/or the Chair/Program Director disagrees with the Dean, Associate Dean or designateí s decision to grant the accommodation, this decision can be appealed to the Vice-President, Academic within 48 hours of receiving the notification.
D. Accommodation Pending Review and Appeal
The University recognizes that decisions involving accommodations must be made expeditiously to assist students in their ongoing courses. Once an accommodation plan is approved, it shall be implemented promptly. In the event that a request for accommodation is denied and an appeal is pending, the instructor and the Accessible Learning Centre shall review the accommodation plan to determine what portion, if any, of the plan can reasonably be implemented immediately. Such accommodations shall remain in place until there is a final disposition of all appeals.

Where a student has been accommodated pending the final disposition of all appeals, and such disposition is that the accommodation should not be granted, an alternative means of fairly determining the student's course mark shall be determined by the instructor and the Dean, Associate Dean or designate and communicated to the student. In some circumstances, the Dean, Associate Dean or designate may, at his/her discretion, agree to withdraw a student retroactively from a course without academic penalty. The Dean may also recommend a tuition refund.