Student Wellness Services

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Extra Time on Assignments

Many students registered with QSAS are approved for "extra time on assignments - to be negotiated with the instructor" as an academic accommodation.  The following provides an overview of this accommodation.

What is this accommodation used for?

The core intent of this accommodation is to help students compensate for the extra time they lose due to their disability while completing scheduled academic tasks.  For example, a student with a visual impairment may take longer to complete an assignment simply because using screen reading technology to access written materials is slower than reading with normal eyesight.  Granting extra time on assignments in this case ensures that the student is not unfairly penalized for having to use alternate means to access written materials and complete their work.

Who receives this accommodation?

Students with disabilities dealing with a wide variety of impairments are approved for this accommodation.  Here are some examples:

  • students with compromised reading abilities (e.g,. slow processing speed or dyslexic impairments) arising from a learning disability
  • students dealing with fluctuating and unpredictable periods of ill-health associated with mental health disabilities or chronic illnesses, such as Crohn's Disease
  • students with attention impairments who find it difficult to focus and concentrate for sustained periods of time
  • students who need frequent rest periods or who are able to work only for short periods of time, such as those with recent concussions or other brain injuries
  • students with reduced or limited stamina who have difficulty sitting, reading, writing/typing for extended periods due to physical disabilities or injuries
  • students who rely on adaptive technology (e.g., screen readers or speech-to-text software) to read and/or write

Why do students need to ask their instructors for extensions even if QSAS has approved this accommodation?

"Extra time on assignments" as an approved accommodation requires students to negotiate each and every deadline extension with their instructor.  The reason for this is that due dates and deadlines are tied directly to the academic standards and requirements of each course.  It is the instructor, not QSAS, who is responsible for a) conveying and protecting academic standards; and b) determining what and how much academic material needs to be covered and evaluated within stated course timelines.  

In responding to each and every request for an assignment deadline extension, instructors are expected to consider the student's need for reasonable accommodation within the context of ensuring that academic expectations are being met. 

How much extra time should instructors grant students with disabilities seeking extensions?

While there is no set formula, the amount of time granted for each extension needs to take into account the stated expectations of the assignments and the course. For example, in courses where lab assignments are due every second Wednesday, it might be reasonable upon request to permit a student with a disability until Friday to submit their assignment.   This short extension takes into account the task expectations associated with the original deadline and the approximate amount of time the student needs to make up for time lost due to impairments arising from their disability.  At the same time, the accommodation helps to ensure the student remains on track with the course content and receives the feedback they need to progress.   For larger projects like term papers, an additional week or even two might be a reasonable extension, again depending on the expectations associated with the task and the stated timelines of the course. 

Extra time on assignments as an accommodation does not mean:

  • open ended deadlines
  • elimination of all in-course deadlines or permission to submit interval-scheduled work all at the same at the end of the course
  • permission to submit assignments at the student's convenience
  • automatic re-weighting of grades to compensate for assignments not submitted
  • submitting assignments after answers have been posted or other students have received feedback on their work

Additional Guidelines for Instructors about Extra Time on Assignments

  • Instructors should receive and respond to initial requests for extensions by students with disabilities in good faith.  This means assuming that the student is making an honest request for accommodation based on their disability.  
  • When a student presents a valid Letter of Accommodation from QSAS listing "Extra time on assignments" as an approved accommodation, instructors should not request that the student supply any medical or private documentation verifying their need for the extension.
  • QSAS strongly advises students to negotiate extended deadlines before the original due date.  However, some students do encounter disability-related issues that makes this impossible.  Wherever and whenever possible, instructors ought to receive and respond to requests for extensions after original due dates in good faith, giving careful consideration to the student's request and stated academic standards. Instructors can take into consideration the student's perspective on how much extra time is needed for a specific assignment.
  • Instructors will have met the University's obligation to accommodate when they:
    • can demonstrate they received the student's request for an extension in good faith
    • granted a reasonable response to initial requests - e.g., 1-2 days on weekly assignments, up to 5 days on middle- mid-term assignments or 1-2 weeks on term papers
    • appropriately linked the granting or denial of an extension to the protection and preservation of academic standards and course requirements.
  • Once an instructor has granted reasonable extensions upon request, he or she is within their right to refuse additional extensions if doing so is in contradiction to the stated course requirements.  
  • When students make subsequent requests for extensions for reasons of a disability either on the same assignment or for several assignments in the same course, they should be referred to QSAS or Student Wellness Services for support.
  • When granted reasonable accommodation, students with disabilities are expected to meet stated course requirements just the same as other students.

QSAS encourages both students and instructors to contact us should any questions arise regarding the request of and response to extensions on assignments.