Academic Accommodation for Students with Disabilities (Guidelines, Procedures and Definitions)


1. Accessibility, Accommodation and Course Design

Accommodation and inclusive course design are methods of preventing and eliminating barriers for students with disabilities.

  1. Course curriculum, delivery and evaluation methods should be designed inclusively from the outset.
  2. Even when the principles of inclusivity (or Universal Design for Learning – UDL) have been applied, accommodations may be required and requested.

2. Privacy and Confidentiality

  1. All documents and communications concerning accommodations shall be kept confidential and may not be disclosed without consent except to the extent that disclosure is necessary for the implementation of accommodations, resolution of a disagreement, or as required by law.
  2. Students are not required to disclose a mental health diagnosis when requesting accommodation. Medical documentation must confirm a diagnosed mental health disability without a specific diagnostic label.

3. Roles and Responsibilities

  1. Counselling and Disability Services (Keele Campus) and the Accessibility, Well-Being and Counselling Centre (Glendon Campus) are the primary offices for processing requests, working with students and faculty members to develop accommodation plans, and providing appropriate resources for the community.
  2. Students shall provide timely notice of requests for accommodation based on disability and the documentation necessary to develop an accommodation plan. Requests are normally expected to be made with the assistance of the appropriate University office or centre as noted in 3a). The information provided must be sufficient for the specialized staff in the appropriate office or centre to determine the appropriate accommodations in consultation with the student and the instructor.  Students are expected to communicate in a timely way any change in their circumstances and to fulfill the role assigned to them  in their accommodation plans in a timely way where required by such plans.
  3. Instructors shall take reasonable steps to accommodate in a manner consistent with these Guidelines and the information provided through the appropriate university office of centre.
  4. Programs / departments and if necessary the Deans / Principal shall make best efforts to arrange timely mediation in cases when disagreements between students and instructors about requests for accommodation are unresolved.

4. Instruction-Related Accommodations

  1. Instruction-related accommodations may include, but are not limited to:
  • timely provision of reading lists and other course materials to allow for alternate format transcription / conversion
  • alternate format transcription / conversion
  • alternate scheduling for the completion of course, project, thesis work or competency examinations
  • reasonable, proportionate extensions to program completion time limits
  • use of assistive devices or auxiliary aids in the classroom/laboratory/field (e.g., sound amplification systems worn by course instructors; computerized note takers in the classroom)
  • use of oral and visual language interpreters and/or notetakers in the classroom
  • permission to audio-record or video-record instruction for accommodation purposes only
  • special seating, wheelchair accessible tables
  • adjustments to lightingb

b. Accommodation in Examinations and Evaluations

  1. Test and examination accommodations may include, but are not limited to:
    • alternate scheduling of examinations and essays
    • alternate forms of assessment
    • extended time to complete tests/examinations
    • use of special equipment (computer, assistive technology, etc.)
    • use of special facilities (alternate test/exam room and proctor) and/or examinations in alternate formats (e.g. Braille, audiofiles, etc.)

ii. Whenever possible, the usual procedures for writing tests and examinations shall be followed.


1.Requesting Accommodations

  1. Students with disabilities who require accommodations shall, in a timely manner, provide all necessary documentation to the appropriate University office or centre, It is that office or centre that determines what is necessary documentation.
  2. Designated offices will help students to identify particular aspects of courses that might present barriers to them and will work with them to identify the appropriate accommodations, to obtain or provide supportive documentation, and to assist the students and instructors in developing accommodation plans.

2. Accommodation Agreements and Dispute Resolution

  1. accommodations having regard to input from the appropriate University office or centre.
  2. In cases where the instructor and the student cannot agree about the provision of accommodations, the instructor shall discuss the recommended accommodations with the specialized staff in the relevant designated office or centre, In the event of a disagreement over an accommodation plan or its implementation, normal dispute resolution processes shall be followed (beginning with the relevant program or department and, if necessary, the Associate Dean / Associate Principal of the relevant Faculty).


Academic Integrity: Academic integrity refers to the upholding of essential requirements of courses and programs: All courses and programs have core or essential requirements against which students are evaluated as to whether they are demonstrating the skills, knowledge or attributes at the designated level of the course.  Learning outcomes involve learning tasks and objectives that must be undertaken successfully without compromising the standard required for success in a course or program.

 Appropriate University Office or Centre:  Refers to the Counselling and Disability Services Office on the Keele Campus and The Accessibility, Well-being and Counselling Centre on the Glendon Campus.

 Disability: For the purpose of this policy, disabilities are defined by the Ontario Human Rights Code as follows:

  1. any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device,
  2. a condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability,
  3. a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language,
  4. a mental disorder, or
  5. an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997.

Reasonable Academic Accommodations:  These are planned and agreed-upon variations in the manner in which students may receive course instruction, participate in course activities, or be evaluated.  Accommodations are designed to eliminate or reduce barriers to participation in academic life and to ensure students are treated with dignity and respect.  The University has a duty to provide accommodations up to the point of undue hardship, which may be related to the following factors identified in the Ontario Human Rights Code:

  • Cost
  • Availability of outside sources of funding
  • Health and safety requirements

Students: For the purposes of this Policy, “students” are those individuals who have been admitted to the University, including the School of Continuing Studies, and are eligible to enroll in courses.

Universal Design for Learning – UDL: The principles of UDL(sometimes referred to as Universal Instruction Design or Inclusive Curriculum Design) emphasize:

  • multiple means of representation, to give learners various ways of acquiring information and knowledge
  • multiple means of expression, to provide learners alternatives for demonstrating what they know
  • multiple means of engagement, to tap into learners' interests, offer appropriate challenges, and increase motivation

For information and assistance, please refer to the Teaching Commons’ resources at