Information for Faculty

Student Accessibility Services provides academic accommodation and support to students with disabilities in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Policy on accessible education for students with disabilities and York University Senate Policy on Academic Accommodation for Students with Disabilities.

It is the responsibility of faculty members to be conversant with policies and resources related to teaching students with disabilities, to ensure specific rights and entitlements of students with disabilities are upheld in their class, and to create equitable environment in their courses where respect for dignity of persons with disabilities is upheld.

A “Faculty Resource Guide” has been created to increase disability awareness among faculty members, teaching assistants and staff at the University. The guide is available from Teaching Students with Disabilities.

If you are concerned about a student's performance in your course and suspect that there may be a disability interfering with the student's success, you should meet with the student to discuss campus supports. Ontario Human Rights Commission’s policy includes information for faculty on responding to students with suspected disabilities. Faculty members, staff and teaching assistants are always welcome to consult with our staff if they have questions or concerns. Campus supports are also available through Student Counselling & Development and the Office of Student Community Relations.

Important: Professional ethics and standards of practice require that counsellors and staff within Student Accessibility Services note all relevant communication regarding a student in their file. This includes written correspondence and oral discussions about a student with faculty members. Students can obtain access to their entire Student Accessibility Services file on request.

How Are Academic Accommodations Determined?

It is the student's right to request and receive academic accommodations on the basis of a disability.

We recommend that students register with us as soon as they accept their offer of admission to York. We will, however, continue to meet with “new” students throughout the academic term

Student Accessibility Services works with students and faculty to achieve accommodations that uphold academic standards and maintain the integrity of the program and course curriculum.

Determining which academic accommodations are appropriate is a shared responsibility among a student, Accessibility Counsellor, and professor/course director. Accommodations are meant to remove barriers faced by students with disabilities in order to promote their ability to fulfill the academic standards of their courses and participate fully in the learning environment.. This is consistent with the provisions and spirit of the Ontario Human Rights Code and with York University’s human rights policies and practices. A student requesting academic accommodati on the basis of disability must be accommodated to the point of undue hardship (as long as the accommodation does not undermine academic integrity). The essential requirements (learning outcomes) that must be achieved for a course or program, remain the same for all students.

In determining academic accommodations, Student Accessibility Services gathers relevant medical and psychological documentation from a registered health care practitioner. It is important that a student’s confidentiality and privacy are maintained by faculty. Students do not have to disclose personal information, including the nature of their diagnosis/specific diagnosis, to faculty members.

Student Accessibility Services can support faculty in accommodating students with disabilities and developing inclusive learning environments. We serve as a resource for course instructors regarding ways to reduce need for academic accommodations and in the determination of essential requirements. Student Accessibility Services works with students and faculty to resolve disagreements regarding recommended accommodations

What is A Letter of Accommodation?

A Letter of Accommodation (LOA) lists the accommodations recommended by Student Accessibility Services.  Unless there are concerns related to academic integrity, accommodations recommended by Student Accessibility Services should be implemented as recommended. Concerns about academic integrity can be discussed with the Accessibility Counsellor listed at the top of the LOA.

Students requesting accommodations should provide their course directors with a LOA as close to the start of an academic term as reasonably possible. Students can register with our office throughout the academic term.

There have been changes to the format of the LOA. The reasons for the format change include:

  • Making clearer what a student’s accommodations might be.
  • Making clearer what the process was regarding the way accommodations were determined.
  • What to do if there is a concern about an accommodation.

Learn about the types of formal requests you might receive from students and who to contact with questions.

For more information, please consult this newly revised Faculty Resource Guide.

What if I don’t think I can provide a Recommended Accommodation?

Questions about how to accommodate a student fairly should be discussed with the Accessibility Counsellor named on the student’s Letter of Accommodation.

Where a dispute arises over the appropriateness of a recommended accommodation, it is the course director’s responsibility to demonstrate that the accommodation would undermine the academic standards and integrity of the course. The course director must be prepared to support the argument that a disputed requirement is an essential, vital and a core requirement of the course and program of study and that the accommodation would alter learning outcomes.

Who is Responsible for Accommodated Tests and Exams?

Alternate Exam & Test Scheduling (Alt Exams) in the Registrar’s Office coordinates the scheduling and invigilation of accommodated tests and exams for students with disabilities.  In addition to providing faculty with their LOA, it is the student's responsibility to submit requests for accommodated tests and exams to Alt Exams.

Alt Exams sets deadlines related to these requests. Student Accessibility Services abides by these deadlines. Students who submit a late request to Alt Exams will be directed to write with their class (without accommodation) or to speak with their course director about permission to write at a later date.

To facilitate the scheduling of accommodated tests and exams, it is important that faculty do the following:

  • Respond to e-mail notifications sent by Alt Exams confirming the date, time and duration of a test/exam.
  • Provide test/exam materials and instructions to Alt Exams a minimum of 3 business days prior to the write date. Their preferred delivery method is via email to altprof@yorku.ca; however, tests and exams can be hand-delivered to the Registrar's Office (W223 Bennett Centre for Student Services).
  • Alt Exams asks that faculty do not send tests/exams by internal mail or put them in the Registrar's Office drop box in the Bennett Centre for Student Services.
What are Essential Requirements?

Determining what is an essential requirement of a course or program of study and what is not is critical in distinguishing requirements that cannot be accommodated from what can and should be altered, this includes course requirements and standards. The essential requirements of a course or program refers to the knowledge and skills that must be acquired or demonstrated in order for a student to successfully meet the learning outcomes of that course or program. (IDIA,  2012).

The following questions can be asked to assist with determining whether a course (or program) requirement is essential:

  • Is the requirement established in good faith (as opposed to habit, tradition, ease)?
  • Must the skill or knowldege be demonstrated in order to meet the objectives of the course or program? (IDIA, June 2012)
  • Must the skill or knowledge be demonstrated in a prescribed manner in order to meet the objective of the course or program? (IDIA, June 2012)

References

Oakley, B., Parsons, J., Wideman, M. (2012).  Identifying Essential Requirements:  A Guide for University Disability Service Professionals.  Created for the “Inter-University Disabilities Association (IDIA), Adopted June 13, 2012