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This online version is for convenience; the official version of this policy is housed in the University Secretariat. In case of discrepancy between the online version and the official version held by the Secretariat, the official version shall prevail.

Approving Authority: Senate

Original Approval Date: October 19, 2004 (Graduate Students); May 11, 2005 (Undergraduate Students)

Date of Most Recent Review/Revision: May 26, 2016

Office of Accountability: Provost and Vice-President Academic

Administrative Responsibility: Accessible Learning Centre

Purpose

1.00 The most appropriate accommodation is one that most respects the dignity of the individual with a disability; meets the complexity of individual needs; best promotes integration and full participation; and ensures confidentiality. The purpose of this policy is to:

a. create an accommodation process that fosters a climate of understanding, dignity, worth, and confidentiality;

b. ensure students with disabilities are accommodated according to the guidelines outlined by the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the intention of the Human Rights Code; and the Accessibility of Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

c. preserve the essential requirements of the course or program. Accommodations are designed to assist the student in fulfilling the essential course requirements. Where no reasonable accommodation can be provided, the university may refuse accommodation on the grounds the essential requirements of the course cannot be met.  

d. clarify roles and responsibilities in the accommodation planning process.

Definitions

2.00 Academic standards: benchmarks of quality and excellence in education such as the rigor of curriculum and the difficulty of examinations.

3.00 Accommodation: a means of preventing and removing barriers that impede students with disabilities from participating fully in the educational environment in a way that is responsive to their own unique circumstances. The principles of accommodation are three fold: dignity, individualization and inclusion (Guidelines on Accessible Education, HRC, 2004).

4.00 Coordinator: the coordinator of the program refers to the undergraduate coordinator (or equivalent) for undergraduate students and graduate coordinator (or equivalent) for graduate students.

5.00 Dean: where the Dean of the student’s faculty is referenced, it is intended to mean the Dean of the student’s home faculty. The Dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies will also be involved and/or consulted in cases involving graduate students. 

6.00 Disability: for the purposes of this policy, “disability” is as defined in the Human Rights Code, and refers to both long-term and interim disability. 

7.00 Documentation requirements: students seeking academic accommodations are required to provide written confirmation from a licensed medical/psychological professional. The documentation should clearly indicate the presence of a disability and the functional impact on the academic environment. Interim support will be offered to students who suspect they may have a disability pending the receipt of documentation. Consistent with the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s “Policy on preventing discrimination based on mental health disabilities and addictions”, students are not required, to disclose their mental health disability diagnosis in order to register with Accessible Learning to receive academic accommodations. 

8.00 Duty to accommodate: as determined by interpretation of the Human Rights Code, Wilfrid Laurier University will provide reasonable accommodation to the point of undue hardship.

9.00 Essential requirements: include the knowledge or skills which must be acquired or demonstrated in order for a student to successfully meet the learning outcomes of the course/program, or milestone requirements such as comprehensives and thesis requirements.

10.00 Placement Supervisor: refers to all positions that address student off-campus practicums or placements (including Community Service Learning), such as coordinator of the program, placement coordinator/supervisor, academic advisor, and/or the appropriate faculty member. 

11.00 Reasonable accommodation: the University will provide reasonable accommodation to the point where accommodation creates undue hardship, impacts the health and safety of the student or other students or when essential requirements of the course or program cannot be met. The Ontario Human Rights Code prescribes three factors for consideration when determining if a request for an accommodation constitutes undue hardship. These are:

a) Cost;

b) Availability of outside resources or funding; and

c) Health and safety requirements.

Jurisdiction/Scope

12.00 Faculty, students, Accessible Learning and administrative staff have a shared responsibility in the accommodation process. The legal obligation to accommodate will require members of the university community to exercise creativity and flexibility in responding to the needs of students with disabilities while maintaining academic standards. 

13.00 It is the responsibility of every member of the Laurier community to be knowledgeable on institutional policies related to prohibited grounds in order to prevent discrimination and ensure accessibility.

14.00 Whenever academic accommodations are considered relating to non-academic conduct issues, behaviour contracts, etc., the ALC will be consulted to determine the need for any academic accommodations.

Policy

15.00 Wilfrid Laurier University is committed to the integration of students with disabilities within the university community enrolled in undergraduate, graduate, and non-credit programs. While all students must satisfy the essential requirements for courses or programs, the administration, faculty, and staff at Wilfrid Laurier are expected to provide reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities. 

16.00 Laurier encourages applications from students with disabilities. In accordance with general admission procedures, Laurier will accept academically qualified candidates for admission to undergraduate, graduate, and non-credit programs by examining each applicant's academic record and the impact of any extenuating circumstances.

17.00 Wilfrid Laurier University shall make reasonable and appropriate accommodations in an effort to promote and demonstrate the ability of students with disabilities to fulfill the essential requirements of their programs.  The scope and extent of accommodations will be offered in a manner that is consistent with the relevant policies and procedures and will support and uphold the academic standards of respective programs and courses.

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

Responsibility of Faculty

19.00 Faculty members play a vital role in shaping a student's university experience. An important relationship for many students while at university is the one established between themselves and their instructors, and one which can be the key to success for many students. Although this relationship is very important to all students, it perhaps takes on more importance to students with disabilities, whose academic success will rely on good communication with their instructors. It is strongly encouraged that all requests to instructors for accommodation must first be discussed with the Accessible Learning Centre.

Responsibility of Students

20.00 Students are expected to fully participate in the accommodation process. Students requesting accommodation shall register with the Accessible Learning Centre once they have accepted their offer of admission from the university. Current students who suspect they have a disability that is impacting their academic performance are encouraged to make contact with the Accessible Learning Centre. Returning students (who have already registered with the ALC) are expected to express register, online, at the start of each academic year.

Responsibility of Academic Administrators

21.00 Department Chairs and Program Directors shall act as policy educators and shall ensure that instructors receive departmental resources and required support in order to implement any approved accommodation.

22.00 The Dean(s) or Associate Dean(s) of undergraduate programs shall ensure an awareness and understanding of this policy and any associated impact on respective departmental processes with Department Chairs, and Faculty.

23.00 The Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies shall ensure an awareness and understanding of this policy and any associated impact on respective departmental processes with Department Chairs, Graduate Coordinators and Faculty.

Responsibility of the Accessible Learning Centre

24.00 The Accessible Learning Centre will receive all referrals for accommodation support, vet and maintain all documentation in a confidential and secure manner, create the appropriate accommodation plan with the student and will communicate the accommodation plan in writing by confidential email to the instructor(s)/Departments as appropriate. The accommodation plan will be reviewed and evaluated on a regular basis with revisions/changes shared as required. 

Appeal Process

25.00 It is anticipated that any dispute related to the provision of academic accommodation will be resolved through discussion involving the student, the faculty member and the Accessible Learning Centre. If there is no agreement on the provision of the accommodation, appeals may be heard by the Chair of the Department, the Associate Dean or the Dean of the Faculties. The Senate Student Appeals Committee remains the last level of appeal for students at Laurier as set out in the appeal procedures.   

Relevant Legislation

Related Policies, Procedures and Documents

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