Academic Accommodations & Online Exams

Academic Accommodations

Academic accommodations are put in place to equalize learning opportunities for students with visible and non-visible disabilities. This often involves removing barriers caused by functional limitations, so students have access to the academic environment.

Students with accommodations must meet all the academic requirements and standards of their courses. Accommodations do not guarantee academic achievement; students with accommodations will experience similar challenges and successes as their peers do in their programs.

The following describes some of the accommodations that QSAS may approve for a student with a disability as part of the accommodation process. Both instructors and students are encouraged to contact QSAS and/or their advisor for further guidance and information as needed.  

Universal Design for Learning & Extra Time

More instructors are adopting universal design for learning (UDL) principles in their courses, specifically for in-class tests, quizzes, and midterms.  This approach reduces barriers and eliminates the need to add additional time for individual students as specified in their Letter of Accommodation (LoA).  

In Practice: Last year, a biology instructor administered weekly 10-minute quizzes in classes. Only students with extra time accommodation received additional time. This year, the instructor still gives 10-minutes quizzes, but allows the whole class 15 minutes. The quiz is now accessible to most students, including all students with extra time accommodation up to time and a half. Only students with more than time and a half require individualized time accommodation.

NOTE: Instructors using this approach to exams must still arrange other exam accommodations listed on a student's Letter of Accommodation, such as separate space, breaks, reader/scribe support, etc.


  • This accommodation permits students additional time beyond the period set by instructors for an exam. The core purpose of extra time as an accommodation is to equalize access to the exam process
  • Extra time compensates students for time they lose during an exam when coping with functional limitations that stem from their disability 
  • It is not granted to give students an academic advantage, or to help students improve their exam performance, although many do perform better once access barriers are removed

Who Receives this Accommodation?

Extra time can be used to address a number of barriers that students with disabilities experience, including:

  • Reading or information processing disabilities; who require more time to read and comprehend exam questions
  • Written expression disabilities; who require more time to formulate and convey their responses
  • Mental health disabilities; who need additional time to use strategies for symptom management, such as calming or breathing techniques
  • Chronic pain, concussions, or other physical disabilities where pain may slow cognition and focus
  • Attention deficits, concussions, or autism which may interfere with concentration and focus
  • Vision loss requiring the use of adaptive technology or individualized support (e.g., reader or scribe) to access exam content and/or communicate their responses
  • Medical needs requiring monitoring such as blood sugar levels or pain
  • Temporary injuries, such as hand or arm injuries, where graphomotor abilities may be hampered

How Much Extra Time do Students Get?

  • The amount of extra time students receive as an accommodation is informed both by their disability documentation and lived experience of a disability
  • Based on current research findings, QSAS suggests that up to 25% extra time (e.g., 15 minutes per 1-hour exam) is sufficient to address MOST exam-related barriers experienced by university students with disabilities (Lovett & Lewandowski, 2014). On a 3-hour final exam, this amounts to an additional 45 minutes
  • Students with more significant functional limitations may be granted up to time and a half (e.g., an additional 30 minutes per 1-hour exam, or an additional 1.5 hours for a 3-hour final exam). Only students with very significant functional limitations or access barriers, well supported by detailed documentation, receive double time

Types of Timed Assessments

  • Regular Timed Assessments (e.g., 3-hour exam) – Students approved for 15 minutes extra time per 1-hour exam would receive an extra 45 minutes for a 3-hour exam
  • Regular Timed Assessments with Restricted Open/Closed Periods (e.g., 3-hour exam to be completed within 24-hour period) – Students approved for 15 minutes extra time per 1-hour exam would receive an extra 45 minutes for a 3-hour exam. Students with accommodations would receive the same amount of time assigned for the open/closed periods as all other students (e.g. 24-hours)
  • Extended Timed Assessments or Take-Home Exams (e.g., students have 72 hours to complete 3-hour exam) – No extra time is required for this accommodation
  • Extra Time Between Exams or Time of Day Restrictions (e.g., one exam per calendar day, 24-hours between the start of exams, or no morning exams) – Exams occur on the day and time indicated by the final exam scheduled published by the Exams Office. Students should review the final exam schedule in SOLUS as soon as it becomes available. If a student identifies an exam that directly contradicts their accommodation, they must email their instructors and QSAS advisor immediately. Instructors are expected to work with students, QSAS and other course instructors to meet this accommodation. This may involve moving exams ahead (e.g., to the next morning or 1-day ahead) as necessary
  • Split Exams for Time Restricted Exams – Considering academic requirements and test design, the instructor is required to split the exam into 2-parts that each require approximately the same amount of time to complete. While completing part 1, students typically do not have access to part 2. However, this is at the instructor's discretion

Accessible Exams and Universal Design for Learning

More instructors at Queen’s are adopting universal design principles in their courses, specifically for in-class tests, quizzes, and midterms. Building extra time into their exams for all students is one important way instructors are reducing barriers. Using this approach, the access needs of most students with disabilities are met without requiring individualized extra time accommodation. 

  • In Practice: Last year, a biology instructor administered weekly 10-minute quizzes in classes. Only students with extra time accommodation received additional time. This year, the instructor still gives 10-minutes quizzes, but allows the whole class 15 minutes. The quiz is now accessible to most students, including all students with extra time accommodation up to time and a half. Only students with more than time and a half require individualized time accommodation.

Note: Instructors using this approach to exams must still arrange other exam accommodations listed on a student's Letter of Accommodation, such as separate space, breaks, reader/scribe support, etc.

QSAS does not pre-approve exam deferrals or give permission to reschedule exams as an accommodation, and this does not appear on a Letter of Accommodation. The episodic, unpredictable nature of some health conditions makes the need for exam deferrals difficult to predict in advance. 

Students seeking an exam deferral because of significant symptoms stemming from a disability for which they are registered with QSAS are NOT required to apply for extenuating circumstance consideration. QSAS typically has sufficient documentation to verify the student's health condition and its episodic nature. 

Instructors receiving emails requesting an exam deferral from students registered with QSAS should NOT direct them to the extenuating circumstances process or a faculty portal

Procedure

  • Students requesting exam deferrals are advised to email their instructor, copying their QSAS advisor
  • If the deferral request is for a final exam, students must also copy the Exams Office, exams@queensu.ca
  • Students failing to give sufficient notice cancelling an accommodated final exam administered by the Exams Office may be charged a no-show fee

What students should include in an email requesting exam deferral:

  • Confirm registration with QSAS and include a copy of current and valid Letter of Accommodation
  • Must copy their QSAS advisor
  • Confirm that they are presently experiencing significant symptoms stemming from the disability or health condition for which they are registered with QSAS. Student are advised NOT to disclose the nature of their disability
  • Request permission to defer their exam
  • Include exam specifics such as the course code, date and time for which the exam is scheduled, etc.
  • Refer instructor to QSAS for questions, especially if further verification is needed in support of their request

QSAS reviews all exam deferral requests and adds them to the student's file. Instructors should assume QSAS supports the student's request, unless the advisor communicates otherwise.  Instructors are responsible for scheduling the deferred exam date and arranging student’s exam accommodations where applicable. Students are expected to write the deferred exam on dates and times set by the instructor. 

Multiple Exam Deferral Requests

QSAS advisors will connect directly with students who make multiple exam deferral requests, either in the same course or in several courses. In these cases, the student may require other accommodations or supports.

Denial of Exam Deferrals and Academic Implications

Where a deferral is not academically feasible or appropriate, instructors may deny an exam deferral request. Where appropriate, instructors may offer alternative academic options, such as re-weighing remaining deliverables. Students are encouraged to communicate directly with their instructors about the academic implications associated with an exam deferral.

Deferral for Non-Registered Disability

QSAS students who need to defer their exam for reasons other than the disability for which they are registered should use the Extenuating Circumstances process.

Many students receive this accommodation to help compensate for the extra time they lose due to their disability while completing scheduled academic tasks. Granting extra time ensures that the student is not unfairly penalized for having to use alternate means to access written materials (e.g., screen reading technology) to complete their work.

Who Can Receive this Accommodation?

Extra time can be used to address a wide variety of barriers that students with disabilities experience, including:

  • Compromised reading abilities (e.g., slow processing speed or dyslexic impairments) arising from a learning disability
  • Fluctuating and unpredictable periods of ill-health associated with mental health disabilities or chronic illnesses, such as Crohn's Disease
  • Impairments making it difficult to focus and concentrate for sustained periods of time
  • Reduced or limited stamina due to physical disabilities or injuries
  • Reliance on adaptive technology (e.g., screen readers or speech-to-text software) to read and/or write

You Must Ask Your Instructors for Extensions Even If QSAS Has Approved This Accommodation

  • Students are required to negotiate each and every deadline extension with their instructor since due dates and deadlines are tied directly to the academic standards and requirements of each course
  • Instructors are expected to consider the student's need for reasonable accommodation within the context of ensuring that academic expectations are being met

Instructors are responsible for:

  • Conveying and protecting academic standards
  • Determining what and how much academic material needs to be covered and evaluated within stated course timelines.

How Much Extra Time Should Instructors Grant?

While there is no set formula, the amount of time granted for each extension needs to consider stated expectations of the assignments and course. This helps ensure the student remains on track with course content and receives feedback needed to progress.

  • Short project extension 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
  • Large project extension example – Providing an additional week or 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 time 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

  • Instructors should receive and respond to initial requests for extensions assuming that this is an honest request for accommodation based on their disability
  • When a student presents a valid Letter of Accommodation from QSAS, instructors should not request that the student supply any medical or private documentation
  • Students are advised to negotiate extended deadlines before the original due date. However, some students do encounter disability-related issues that makes this impossible
  • 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 
    • 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, they are within their rights 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 contact 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

This accommodation refers to information that students, whose memory retrieval is impaired due to a disability, are permitted to bring and use during an exam/midterm/in-class test/quiz. 

There are two types of memory aids:

  • Cue Sheet – a document containing information that serves as “triggers” to help cue a student’s recollection of previously learned information
     
  • Formula Sheet – a document containing formulae. Formulae refers to a set of rules or principles that are expressed using symbols, figures, or both. Students are permitted a formula sheet only on exams/tests that assess students on their application, as opposed to recollection, of formula.

A memory aid accommodation is not:

  • A substitute for studying or exemption from mastering course material
  • Answers to exam or test questions, a study or answer sheet
  • Course notes or copies of course slides
  • Lists of specific facts, details, or concepts upon which students are being tested for their recollection

This accommodation appears on the student’s Letter of Accommodation as: Permission to bring and use a memory aid as pre-approved by the instructor.  "Cue Sheet," "Formula Sheet," or both will be specified on the student's letter. 

All memory aids must be reviewed and approved by instructors (review the How Does This Accommodation Work section below). 

Who Can Receive this Accommodation?

Students with neurological impairment that interferes with their spontaneous retrieval of learned information may be approved for this accommodation.

Students seeking this accommodation must provide the following documentation:

  1. Validated measures of performance validity
  2. Memory assessment that:
    • Demonstrates actual learning took place
    • Requires the student to recall the learned information after a standardized period of time
    • Confirms that the student failed to retrieve the learned information
    • Confirms that the student could recall it when given cues
    • Confirms that the difference between the student’s spontaneous recollection and cued recollection is significantly larger than it is for other students (e.g., normed comparisons)

Low scores on measures of “working memory” and “auditory working memory” are not sufficient evidence to support the need for a memory aid accommodation. Working memory does not require actual storage of information. Auditory working memory does not require the transferral of temporarily-held information into long-term storage.

Students and their health care providers are encouraged to consult the Guidelines for Memory Aids prepared by the Regional Assessment & Resource Centre. These guidelines detail information about assessments and measures that should be administered in support of this accommodation at Queen’s University.

How Does This Accommodation Work?
 

  • Students approved for this accommodation are strongly encouraged to book an appointment with a QSAS Learning Strategist, for guidance on how to create a memory aid
  • Student must submit their memory aid to their instructor for review and approval at least 10 business days* in advance of the exam/test/midterm
  • Instructors are within their right to disallow a student the use of a memory aid that presents any risk to academic integrity, or if they were not given sufficient time for review

*For Spring, Summer and/or other condensed terms or courses, the student and professor may need to negotiate a different but reasonable timeline for review of the memory aid in time for scheduled tests, midterms, or exams.

Steps in Preparing for the Memory Aid Accommodation

Mid-terms, in-class tests, or quizzes administered by the instructor or TA

  • Student creates and submits the memory aid to instructor 10 business days in advance of the exam date
  • Instructor reviews, approves and signs the memory aid; returns it to the student
  • Student brings the original signed memory aid to the exam

Final Exams administered by the Exams Office

  • Student creates and submits the memory aid to instructor 10 business days in advance of exam date
  • Instructor reviews, approves, signs, and sends approved memory aid directly to the Exams Office

The approved memory aid, along with all other exam materials, is provided to the student in the accommodated exam venue

Features of a Memory Aid

Cue Sheet

Students must ensure that their cue sheet meets the following guidelines:

  • Double sided, 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper (handwritten or typed)
  • 12 point font or larger
  • Written in English (unless course appropriate)
  • Provides cues ("triggers") the student developed from the course material to assist in the recollection of previously learned information
  • May include acronyms, pictures, acrostics, visual chains, mnemonics, mind maps, diagrams, or other symbols
  • May be organized in a variety of ways, including chronologically, by modules, themes, chapters, theories, and applications
  • Includes only cues to learned information that the student cannot retrieve
  • Only makes sense to the student; typically, would not be useful to other students in the course

How to Create a Cue Sheet 

Cue Sheet Examples: Example 1 and Example 2

Formulae Sheet

Students must ensure that their formulae sheet meets the following guidelines:

  • Double sided, 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper (handwritten or typed)
  • 12 point font or larger
  • May be organized in a variety of ways, including chronologically, by modules, themes or chapters
  • Includes only the formulae covered within the test material
  • Does NOT include cues or notes on how/when to apply the formulae
  • Does NOT include cues or notes, besides specific formulae, regarding any of the other material being tested

Students approved for this accommodation have physical or cognitive disabilities which significantly restricts their ability to read text during exams. See what qualifies someone as a reader, guidelines and expectations.

Who Receives This Accommodation?

This accommodation is approved when technological alternatives, such as screen readers or text-to-speech programs, are not feasible. 

A reader may be approved for students who have:

  • Worsening vision loss, or newly diagnosed cognitive or brain injury disabilities who are not yet sufficiently familiar with adaptive technology to use during exams
  • Permanent vision loss or cognitive disabilities taking exams where adaptive technology is not feasible (e.g., math or foreign language exams)
  • Permanent vision loss or cognitive disabilities who cannot reasonably acquire familiarity with adaptive technology sufficient for its use during exam (e.g., due to other disabilities)

Reader Guidelines for Students

  • Students approved for this accommodation are also approved for a private room during exams
  • Students and their reader should agree on a signal the student will use when requesting the reader to stop and resume reading
  • Students are permitted to skip questions or parts of the exam, and go out of order, just like other students
  • Students must signal to the reader when proceeding to the next question
  • Remote support of these accommodations may be provided by a teaching assistant or other suitable Queen's individual through Microsoft Teams or Zoom

Reader Qualifications

A reader is a qualified individual who reads text aloud exactly as it is written to a student during an exam. Instructors, teaching assistants, graduate and upper-year students, proctors, or administrative staff may serve as qualified scribes.

Qualified readers must be able to:

  • Read aloud in a clear, audible and steady voice
  • Properly convey aloud all punctuation conventions
  • Read text exactly as it is written without rephrasing or changing tone of voice to suggest hints or answers
  • Reread text exactly as written without change in tone of voice when the student requests it and as many times as it is requested
  • Sit quietly while the student process or complete their answers
  • Work with students comfortably and compatibly without creating unnecessary pressure, expectations, or distractions

Reader Expectations

  • Readers should silently read the entire exam before reading aloud to the student
  • Read text aloud exactly as it is written
  • Stop and resume reading as requested by the student
  • Correctly observe all punctuation when reading aloud
  • Spell aloud words when requested by students with vision loss
  • Read at the speed and in the order as requested by the student
  • Refrain from rephrasing or explaining the meaning of words, phrases, or exam questions
  • Refrain from assisting the student in any way by suggesting when to move on, using tone of voice to suggest answers, or repeating text without being instructed to do so

Students approved for this accommodation have physical or chronic disabilities which significantly restricts their ability to handwrite or type their exam answers. See what qualifies someone as a scribe, guidelines and expectations. 

Who Receives a Scribe Accommodation?

This accommodation is usually approved when technological alternatives such as text-to-speech are not feasible. 

A scribe may be provided for students who have:

  • Physical disabilities which significantly restricts their hand or arm functioning such as cerebral palsy or severe carpel tunnel
  • Dysgraphia taking exams for which typing is not feasible (e.g., math-based exams)
  • Sudden, new injuries to their hand or arm that causes them not to be able to type, or who are taking exams for which typing is not feasible (e.g., math-based exams)
  • People with concussions who must limit their screen use, and who are taking exams for which handwriting is not feasible

Scribe Guidelines for Students

  • Students approved for this accommodation are also approved for a private room during exams
  • Students may say or point to their choice for multiple choice exams
  • Students are responsible for correct punctuation by indicating it as you dictate, or adding it later
  • Students are permitted to skip questions and go out of order just like other students
  • Students are permitted to review and edit their answers throughout the exam, and to have their answers read back to them as often as necessary
  • Students must indicate when they are ready to move to the next exam item
  • FOR MATH EXAMS. Must specify where to place figures and operands for responses requiring equations
  • Remote support of these accommodations may be provided by a teaching assistant or other suitable Queen's individual through Microsoft Teams or Zoom.

Scribe Qualifications

A scribe is a qualified individual who writes or types verbatim exactly as a student dictates their responses during exams. Instructors, teaching assistants, graduate and upper-year students, proctors, or administrative staff may serve as qualified scribes.

Qualified scribes must be able to: 

  • Handwrite in clear and legible manner
  • Type at a reasonably efficient speed
  • Maintain a neutral facial expression and posture without giving hints of any kind
  •  Sit quietly while students process their answers
  • Work with students comfortably and compatibly without creating unnecessary pressure, expectations, or distractions
  • Scribe exactly what the student dictates without paraphrasing or editing
  • Ask the student to repeat phrases or words for clarity sake without suggesting changes or corrections

Scribe Expectations

  • Responsible for entering identification and other required details on the exam paper (e.g., student name, number, date, page number, etc.)
  • Type or handwrite the student's answers
  • Must correctly transfer the student's answers to the Scantron, if applicable
  • Must correctly spell words. Where necessary, you may ask the student to spell technical words
  • Can respond only to procedural questions from the student (e.g., "How much space do I have left?")
  • FOR MATH EXAMS:
    • Must prompt the student if they neglect to specify where to place figures and operands for responses requiring equations
    • Must make any changes the student requests, even if they are mathematically incorrect
  • Must not assist the student in any way (i.e., suggesting answers, offering strategies or clues, indicating correct or incorrect answers, or instructing the student to redo or review any part of their answer or exam)

 


Online Exams Accommodations

QSAS provides the following guidance for instructors and students in arranging exam accommodations as written on a student's Letter of Accommodation, or adjusting them appropriately for an online context.   

Communicating Accommodation Information

Students are responsible for informing instructors about their need for accommodation. Students must download their Letter of Accommodation and send it to their instructor or point person in their department or faculty.  

Exam Accommodations in a Modified Context - QSAS Guidance

The following sections list most exam accommodations typically approved for students with disabilities who are registered with QSAS, with guidance for instructors and students on arranging these accommodations for online delivery.

Students and instructors should contact the student's QSAS advisor with any questions about accommodations, appropriate adjustments, or other solutions needed to meet a student's access needs. Please contact the QSAS Intake Coordinator if the student's QSAS advisor is unknown.  

The accommodations listed below are professionally assessed by QSAS advisors and approved for students with disabilities on an individualized basis.  Academic accommodations are specific to three factors: (a) a student's functional limitations stemming from their disability as verified by disability documentation, (b) the student's own experience of their disability at university, and, (c) the academic requirements of their course or program.

Universal Design for Learning & Extra Time on Exams

Some programs and faculties are applying universal design for learning (UDL) principles to their online exams. For example, by adding 3 hours to a regular 3-hour exams, all students have 6 hours, or double time, to complete their exams. This approach eliminates the need for instructors to add additional time for individual students as specified in their Letter of Accommodation (LoA). 

NOTE: Instructors should familiarize themselves well in advance of exam dates on how to change time provisions for individual students within the specific learning platform being employed.


Types of Timed Assessments

  • Regular Timed Assessments (e.g., 3-hour exam) – Students approved for 15 minutes extra time per 1-hour exam would receive an extra 45 minutes for a 3-hour exam.
  • Regular Timed Assessments with Restricted Open/Closed Periods (e.g., 3-hour exam to be completed within 24-hour period) – Students approved for 15 minutes extra time per 1-hour exam would receive an extra 45 minutes for a 3-hour exam. Students with accommodations would receive the same amount of time assigned for the open/closed periods as all other students (e.g. 24-hours).
  • Extended Timed Assessments or Take-Home Exams (e.g., students have 72 hours to complete 3-hour exam) – No extra time is required for this accommodation.
  • Extra Time Between Exams or Time of Day Restrictions (e.g., one exam per calendar day, 24-hours between the start of exams, or no morning exams) – Exams occur on the day and time indicated by the final exam scheduled published by the Exams Office. Students should review the final exam schedule in SOLUS as soon as it becomes available. If a student identifies an exam that directly contradicts their accommodation, they must email their instructors and QSAS advisor immediately. Instructors are expected to work with students, QSAS and other course instructors to meet this accommodation. This may involve moving exams ahead (e.g., to the next morning or 1-day ahead) as necessary.
  • Split Exams for Time Restricted Exams – Considering academic requirements and test design, the instructor is required to split the exam into 2-parts that each require approximately the same amount of time to complete. While completing part 1, students typically do not have access to part 2. However, this is at the instructors discretion.

Time for stretch, rest or restroom breaks is already included in the extra time indicated in the student's exam accommodation. This is also true for students who require time to monitor a health condition or take medication, (e.g., using a glucometer or check glucose levels). Students are expected to self-monitor their use of time for breaks during the exam. Additional time for breaks is not required for exams with open time restrictions (e.g., 24-hours to complete a 3-hour exam).

Students are responsible for securing space within their home or other permissible setting with suitable features (e.g., seating near window, dimmed lighting, no florescent lighting, ergonomic seating or height adjustable desk) for completing their online exams. Completing exams at home will require adjustments for some students, especially those used to the private, semi-private or small classroom exam settings.

Students are encouraged to be creative in securing space in their home or other permissible location. Below are some tips/strategies that may be helpful:

  • If you have a private room at home (e.g., bedroom), create a study-specific space separate from the sleeping area. Re-arrange furniture if necessary. Keep your study space decluttered, tidy, and work-ready for use each day
  • If you share a room, agree with roommate(s) on a temporary furniture arrangement to create a study space
  • Agree with your roommate(s) on a schedule of private use periods for each of you throughout the day. Be sure to schedule your times around your exams, or when other concentration-heavy work is due
  • Wear ear plugs or headphones, or listen to calming music at low volume to reduce distractions. Avoid distracting yourself by turning off your phone and log out of your social media accounts
  • Alert others in the home of upcoming exam dates/times right away. Post these in a place where everyone can see
  • Actively secure cooperation from housemates about minimizing distractions during these times. Brainstorm ahead about activities housemates can do to reduce distractions while you complete your exams
  • If internet reliability worsens when more devices are in use, secure cooperation by housemates to reduce their internet use during your exam periods

Students who already have adaptive software programs listed in their exam accommodations and installed on their computer are permitted to them while completing online exams.

The following adaptive software resources are recommended alternatives for students who do not have personal access to the adaptive programs listed in their exam accommodations:

Text-to-Speech

  • Kurzweil 3000 - Available free to anyone with internet access for a limited time
  • Read & Write - Available as a Google extension for use with Google Docs
  • Natural Reader - Available free for Windows and Mac OS. Once downloaded and installed, the program does not require internet access.
    (Note: The free version does not include optical character recognition)

Speech-to-Text

  • Built-In features in Windows and Mac OS systems are reasonable options

Magnification, Screen Readers, Navigation Assistance

  • Jaws, Zoomtext, and Fusion - Available free for Windows 10 or 7, only for persons with vision loss. Does not require internet access

Organization and Mind-Mapping

  • X-Mind - Available free for both Windows and Mac OS. Once downloaded and installed, does not require internet access

Students are encouraged to visit the Adaptive Technology Centre website for information and support on accessing and using the above adaptive software programs.

Students are responsible for arranging access to a suitable computer and are permitted to use noise cancelling headphones or earplugs while completing online exams. Students are also permitted to listen to music while completing online exams.

Students must observe any restrictions instituted by their instructors about accessing information outside of the online platform being used for their exam, including information on smartphones or other devices.

Restricted Screen Use

Students with recent concussions and other injuries may be restricted in their use of computers or screens. For some exams, students can view the exam questions online, but write their answers by hand on paper. They can then photograph their handwritten answers and submit pictures. Instructors should inform students how to submit their exam answers using this method.

Students writing exams for which this approach is not feasible should contact their QSAS advisor. Other accommodations, such as a Reader and/or Scribe, may be warranted.

Instructors should prepare their exam materials using an accessible format that enables students to enlarge the materials or access them using built-in computer features or adaptive software. Instructors should avoid using scanned images in exam materials even for online exams wherever possible (e.g., uploaded pictures taken by cell phones, or other devices). These are not easily enlarged without reducing image quality. Also, they are frequently inaccessible to students using adaptive software.

The Adaptive Technology Centre provides helpful guidance on creating accessible documents.

Memory Aid
Arrangements for this accommodation are necessary only if the exam is closed book, and all students are permitted no access to any information outside of the exam. In this case, students and instructors are strongly encouraged to review the Memory Aids section in the Academic Accommodations section above.

Dictionary, Calculator, Scrap Paper
Students are permitted to use the academic aids as specified in their accommodation during online exams. This includes the use of a dictionary, calculator (basic 4-function), or scrap paper.

Access to Instructor for Clarification
Instructors should decide if they will accept questions from students during online exams. If so, students should be given clear instructions about how they can reach their instructor during the exam. If the instructor will not take questions from any student during the exam, they should inform all students about this prior to the exam.

This accommodation does not apply to exams written online.

Students and instructors are strongly encouraged to review Reader or Scribe in the Academic Accommodations section above. Remote support of these accommodations may be provided by a teaching assistant or other suitable Queen's individual through Microsoft Teams or Zoom.

If this accommodation cannot be arranged remotely, another suitable person in the student's home may perform the role. Students may be asked to complete an attestation letter, agreeing that the helper will perform these roles as outlined in the QSAS guidance for readers and scribes. Instructors may use the following sample attestation letter for this purpose: Reader/Scribe Attestation Letter - COVID19.