Queen's University


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For more detailed information about these and other considerations relevant to teaching students with disabilities, please see the full instructor handbook.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. I'm planning on holding a midterm examination, what do I need to think about in terms on accommodations?

Accommodations on midterms are to be arranged between the student and the instructor. Students should provide the instructor with 5 working days' notice of the need for accommodation. If a computer is required as an accommodation, the Exams Office will provide the accommodations, based on 1) a request from the student, and 2) a request and an exam from the instructor (see the Exams Office website for more information about the procedure). Other accommodations such as extra time, separate space or a reader or scribe need to be arranged through the instructor/department.

It is important in setting up accommodated exams that the student's privacy is respected, by not having the student simply remain in the class longer after the other students get up and leave. A separate setting, or the opportunity to leave at the same time and complete the exam elsewhere is important to protect the privacy of the student writing with more time.

Some students will not request accommodations on the midterm, but do use them on the final. This is depends on the disability, and the length and format of a midterm. It is up to the student to initiate the request for accommodation, and the instructor to make the arrangements.

2. Who provides documentation of a disability?

All students for whom accommodations are recommended have disabilities that are diagnosed and documented by licensed, experienced third-party clinicians. Read more about our documentation policies.

3. What is a disability?

Basically, a disability is an inequity of opportunity to participate in the educational environment and experience that is based on a body condition that is beyond the person's control. Definitions of disability vary, depending on who is making the determination. The DSO uses the Ontario Human Rights Code definition of disability (which can be found either at the Ontario Human Rights Commission website, or at the ServiceOntario E-Laws site) and the Ontario Student Assistance Plan (OSAP) definition.

4. When is documentation reviewed/renewed?

Documentation is reviewed annually, with updates required for variable or fluctuating conditions. Conditions that are life-long and known to be relatively stable do not require repeated evidence of the presence of the condition, although changing functional implications may be noted from time to time, with adjustments to accommodations as appropriate.

5. What proctoring resources are available?

Deciding to hold a midterm is part of curriculum design, and making curriculum accessible is the instructor's responsibility. While the university assists with meeting that responsibility through the Exam Office for exams, no similar resource currently exists for midterms or tests that need proctoring. If you need funding for proctoring or invigilating midterms or tests, you need to contact your department first, and then move the request up to the next academic office that can provide the resources.

6. How should extensions on assignments be handled?

When extensions on assignments are recommended as an accommodation of disability, the intent is for students and instructors to negotiate a revised deadline, based on the fact that the student is known to have a condition that periodically affects their pace of productivity. It is not a blanket extension on all work, nor is it a license to submit work after the course has ended. It is a verification of a predictable need to negotiate deadlines from time to time.

7. What does the "Could miss class for medical/disability-related reason" accommodation mean?

The accommodation listed as "Could miss class for medical/disability-related reason" is intended to inform instructors of the fact that the student has a condition which is known to cause intermittent difficulties with attendance. This could be due to periodic specialist appointments, accessible transportation issues, or most often variable symptoms which affect attendance. Instructors need to work with students who face this barrier to regular participation by supplementing notes and taking the condition into account when sorting out issues with the student. Alternative forms of participation such as journal writing, submitting notes with reflections on readings, online discussion forums, or supplemental reaction essays can be helpful in seeing the student's thoughts and engagement when verbal or real time participation is limited by disability-related constraints.

8. What are the rights and responsibilites related to the audio/video recording of lecture material?

Students with a variety of conditions may be accommodated in the lecture environment by digitally recording spoken material. The Ontario Human Rights Code, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (Bill 118), and Queen's University's Policy on Personal Assistive Devices and the Senate Policy Concerning Students with Disabilities place an ethical and legal responsibility on all faculty and staff to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to access auditory material presented in classes, lectures, seminars, labs and other educational events. For students who face a disadvantage in accessing auditory material, this includes a responsibility to make appropriate accommodations in order to remove any barrier to the students' equal participation in and access to educational events.

Students with disabilities who require a transcription or audio support with notes sign an agreement with Disability Services that recognizes the recording as an accommodation, which cannot be used for any other purpose, nor shared, altered, etc. except for personal study. This is in keeping with the policy on Personal Assistive Devices mandated by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, and the exceptions noted in copyright law. Recording of classroom material is allowable under existing Canadian copyright legislation, due to the exception of 'fair dealing'. For more information about copyright law as it relates to 'Fair dealings' and 'Exceptions' please visit the Intellectual Property Office website.

A procedure regarding recording of lecture material is being developed to supplement the Personal Assistive Devices policy.

9. What are invisible disabilities?

Not all conditions that require accommodation are evident by just looking at someone. In fact, the vast majority of students registered with Disability Services have conditions that are not immediately apparent. Mental health and chronic conditions like arthritis, cancer, Crohn's disease, inflammatory or metabolic disorders, hearing and vision loss, and learning disabilities may not be detectable in ordinary interactions. It is important to refrain from making assumptions about a person's function, or judging their endurance by their appearance.

Similarly, many forms of accommodation enable people with a range of conditions to have an equal opportunity to participate in the educational experience. Extra time helps people with chronic pain who need to change position frequently, as well people whose speed of responding is impacted by depression or anxiety. Use of a computer enables people who need to enlarge text, use a keyboard, dictate or listen to exam questions, or write in an ergonomically supportive workstation, for any type of disability-related reason. The accommodation may not indicate what type of disability is present, but rest assured that if an accommodation is recommended, the student has third-party documentation from a licensed health care professional on file in Disability Services to verify the condition and a need for accommodation. If you have any questions about an accommodation or how it equalizes the student's opportunity, please contact the office.

10. What rights and responsibilities do faculty/instructors have?

Faculty have the right to determine course and program objectives, curriculum, delivery and assessment methods, and evaluation criteria, among other factors. The rationale for various requirements needs to be articulated so as to provide a basis for discussion of appropriate accommodations. Along with these rights come responsibilities to consider a range of ways in which students might participate in educational activities and requirements. Universal Instructional Design (UID) strategies can be very helpful in designing courses to include a range of ways of participating, which in turn reduces the need for accommodations. For information on UID, contact the Centre for Teaching and Learning, and/or refer to the following external online resources:

11. What rights and responsibilities do students have?

Students have the right to be treated with dignity and respect when seeking accommodation for a disability. They have a right to accommodation that does not compromise the academic integrity of the course or program. How far to accommodate without compromising academic integrity depends on the specific situation, and should be discussed with Disability Services and the student. To access these rights, students also have the responsibility to provide sufficient information, in a timely fashion, such that appropriate accommodations can be devised. Students must participate in a mutual process involving the student and, in most cases, the Disability Services Office on behalf of the university, to determine accommodations. If you have specific questions about student rights and responsibilities, contact the Disability Services Office, or the Human Rights Office. For more information on rights and responsibilities, see the Queen's Instructor's Handbook or the Ontario Human Rights Commission's Guidelines on Accessible Education.

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