Academic Accommodations

Academic Accommodations

The academic accommodations process is designed to remove barriers for students who experience disability related impacts.
Academic accommodations:

  • Equalize learning opportunities for students
  • Do not guarantee academic success. All students, including those with accommodations, must meet the academic requirements and standards of their courses.
  • Do not remove the regular academic challenges. Student with accommodations will experience similar challenges and successes as peers in their programs.

Accommodation Types

Depending on the documentation provided, students will either receive permanent or interim accommodations.

Permanent accommodations expire five (5) years from the time they were implemented.
Permanent accommodations implemented in the:

  • Fall will expire five years from December 31.
  • Winter will expire five years from April 30.
  • Spring/Summer will expire five years from August 31.

Students are not required to meet with a QSAS Advisor to discuss accommodations each semester however, you are encouraged if there have been changes to your medical information and/or program of study. These changes may warrant a review and adjustment to your Letter of Accommodation.

Students are required to assign their LoA to the appropriate courses at the start of each semester. Failure to do so will result in you not having access to your accommodations until that step has been completed.

If you have previously received interim accommodations (i.e., those which expire at the end of the semester) through QSAS that have expired, upload your medical documentation that meets QSAS Documentation Criteria through the secure QSAS Documentation Portal.

  • A follow-up meeting with your QSAS Advisor may not be required in all cases.
    • However, depending on the information contained on the medical documentation submitted, students may be asked to schedule a follow-up meeting.
  • Students submitting documentation that does not meet QSAS documentation criteria will not be provided with permanent accommodations, nor will the student be able to re-access their interim accommodations (if they have expired).
  • Depending on the duration of impairment indicated on the medical documentation submitted, students may receive either permanent or interim accommodations.

Student Responsibilities

Students are responsible for providing their Letter of Accommodation (LoA) to their instructor or faculty contact person as soon as it is available.

If students do not share their LoA with their instructor or faculty contact person

  • Accommodations outlined on your LoA will not be available
  • Retroactively providing missed accommodations will not be possible
  • QSAS will not be able to advocate on your behalf for missed accommodations if this step is missed

The following describes some of the accommodations that QSAS may approve as part of the accommodation process.

Extra Time Accommodations

Extra time will be provided to students on increments of 15-minutes on the hour (e.g., 15, 30, 45, or 60 minutes/hour).


Other Exam Accommodations

Extra Time Between Final Exams

  • This accommodation may include a maximum of one exam per calendar day or 24-hours between start of exams.
    • Students should review their final exam schedule in SOLUS. If an exam contradicts this accommodation, students must email their instructor or faculty contact person and QSAS Advisor immediately.
  • Days and times of midterms and final exams are scheduled by Exam’s Office
    • Students should review their final exam schedule in SOLUS. If an exam contradicts this accommodation, students must email their instructor or faculty contact person and QSAS Advisor immediately.

Time of Day Restriction

  • This accommodation may include restricting exams at a certain time of day – morning, afternoon, or evening.

Split Exams for Time Restricted Exams

  • Considering academic requirements and test design, the instructor splits the exam into 2-parts that each require approximately the same amount of time to complete.

Who Receives this Accommodation?

Extra time can be used to address several barriers, including…

  • reading or information processing where a student requires more time to read exam questions for comprehension
  • written expression where a student requires more time to formulate and articulate responses
  • mental health where a student requires more time to incorporate strategies for symptom management, such as calming or breathing techniques
  • chronic pain, concussions, or other physical impacts where pain may slow cognition and focus
  • attention deficit, concussions, or other neurodiverse impacts which may interfere with concentration and focus
  • vision loss where a student requires more time to use adaptive technology or individualized support (e.g., reader or scribe) to access exam content and/or communicate responses
  • medical needs where a student requires more time to monitor things such blood sugar levels or pain
  • temporary injuries, such as hand or arm injuries, where a student requires more time to physically write responses

Types of Timed Assessments

Regular Timed Assessments

  • Students will receive either 15, 30, 45, or 60 extra minutes/hour of writing time

Regular Timed Assessments with Restricted Open/Closed Periods

  • This refers to exam within a given window of time (e.g., a 3-hour exam that can be written at any time within a 24 hour period)
  • Students with accommodations will receive their extra time for the actual writing of the exam.
  • Students with accommodations will receive the same window of time (e.g., in the example above, 24 hour period) to complete the exam as all other students.

Extended Timed Assessments or Take-Home Exams

  • On exams where the instructor has provided extended time (e.g., 72 hours to complete 3-hour exam), no extra time will be provided to a student with an extra time accommodation as the expectations is that the extended period of time has removed barriers.

Time for stretch, rest, or restroom breaks

Students will receive extra time on their exams to allow for these breaks without impacting their writing time. Students are expected to self-monitor their break time during the exam. Additional time for breaks will not be provided for exams with open time restrictions (e.g., 24-hours to complete a 3-hour exam).


Universal Design & Extra Time

  • Extra time on a quiz, test, or exam is determined from the base time of the exam, not on the extended time provided by an instructor to everyone in the course, also known as universal extra time.
    • Ex. The exam may have a base time of 60 minutes and the instructor provides 30 minutes of universal extra time meaning the time to complete the exam is 90 minutes for all students
  • Students will receive accommodated extra time on the base time (in the example above, that would be 60 minutes), and not on the amount of universal extra time provided (in the example above, that would be 90 minutes).
  • If the universal extra time is greater than or equal to the amount of extra time a student would receive with their extra time accommodation, then the student will be provided with the universal extra time only.
    • In the example above, if the student receives extra time accommodation of either 15 mins/hour or 30 mins/hour, then they would be provided with the universal extra time of 90 minutes
  • If the universal extra time is less than the amount of extra time a student would receive with their extra time accommodation, then the student will be provided with the accommodated extra time – determined from the base time of the exam, not the universal extra time.
    • In the example above, if the student receives extra time accommodation of either 45 mins/hour or 60 mins/hour, then they would be provided with their accommodated extra time – 105 mins or 120 mins.
  • Students with additional exam accommodations such as adaptive technology or private room will still be provided with these accommodations, regardless of universal extra time.

Students can request an exam deferral if they feel that there is significant disability related impact occurring in the lead up to a final exam.

Exam deferral requests must be made through your instructor of faculty contact person. QSAS does not provide exam deferrals or give permission to reschedule exams as an accommodations.

Exam deferrals are provided at the discretion of instructors and/or faculty contact person (guided by the Duty to Accommodate) to approve this request.


Procedure:

  • Students requesting exam deferrals are advised to email their instructor and/or faculty contact person, 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:

  • Current and valid Letter of Accommodation (LoA)
  • Confirm that you are presently experiencing significant symptoms stemming from a disability or health condition.
    • Students are not required to disclose personal/medical information.
  • Request permission to defer their exam.

Course code plus date and time of exam. Instructors should assume Accessibility Services supports the student's request unless the QSAS 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 since they 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 or their faculty academic advisors about the academic implications associated with an exam deferral.

  • Students receive a 7 calendar day extension on assignments
    • Students can submit their assignment any time before the 7 calendar days.
    • The 7 calendar days will start at the end of any late submission grace period that may be provided by the instructor
  • Students are responsible for communicating the extension via email to their instructor prior to the assignment due date and can use this suggested email template to communicate with their instructors.
    • The email should not contain personal medical information.
  • Extensions beyond 7 calendar days may be provided under unique circumstances. The extension will be considered by QSAS in connection with the course instructor.
    • Unique circumstances are newly arising barriers related to functional impacts that were either unknown or unanticipated when the original extension was provided. This could also be related to a significant change to prognosis or status.
    • If an additional extension beyond the original 7 calendar days are requested, the request must be made prior to the end of the original 7 calendar day extension.
  • There may be assessments for which a 7 calendar day extension is not possible given the nature of the course work required (e.g., group assignments, in-class presentations, assignments scaffolding into other assignments within the 7-day period, etc.). Students facing barriers with meeting deadlines for these kinds of non-extendable assessments must work with their instructor prior to the due date to discuss an appropriate alternative which are up to the instructors’ discretion.
    • Appropriate alternatives may include:
      • Re-weighting of grade
      • Allowing pass/fail on a deliverable
      • Providing alternate ways for a student to demonstrate knowledge
      • Combining grades for two scaffolded assignments into one grade
      • Allowing students the max. extension possible when 7 calendar days are not feasible (due to the scaffolding of assignments)
      • Other appropriate instructor/student decided recommendations that remove student barriers.
    • If instructors experience difficulty integrating an appropriate alternative into the course for a particular student, the instructor can connect with the student’s QSAS Advisor to discuss how the appropriate alternative may be best integrated.

This accommodation should be used sparingly by students experiencing disability related barriers. It is highly recommended that students develop a term calendar at the beginning of the semester that includes all their assignments and exams. This will help students adjust their schedule when this accommodation is used.

To learn how to design a term calendars, and other helpful time management and scheduling strategies, please connect with Student Academic Success Services (SASS).


Who Can Receive this Accommodation?

Extra time can be used to address a number of barriers including…

  • reading or information processing where a student requires more time to read exam questions for comprehension
  • written expression where a student requires more time to formulate and articulate responses
  • mental health where a student needs additional time to incorporate strategies for symptom management, such as calming or breathing techniques
  • chronic pain, concussions, or other physical impacts where pain may slow cognition and focus
  • attention deficit, concussions, or other neuorodiverse impacts 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 responses
  • medical needs requiring monitoring such as blood sugar levels or pain
  • temporary injuries, such as hand or arm injuries, where physical writing abilities may be hampered

Instructor responsibility:

  • Outlining and protecting academic standards
  • Determining what and how much academic material needs to be covered and evaluated within stated course timelines.
  • Instructors will have met the University’s duty to accommodate when they:
    • Can demonstrate they received the student’s request for an extension in good faith
    • Granted a reasonable response to initial request
    • Linked the granting or denial of an extension to appropriate academic standards and course requirements

This accommodation refers to information that students, whose memory retrieval is impaired, 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.


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 encouraged to email accessibility.services@queensu.ca to book an appointment with the 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 the 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 (PDF, 365 KB)

Cue Sheet Examples: Example 1 (PDF, 53 KB) and Example 2 (PDF, 54 KB)

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 face barriers which significantly restrict their ability to read text during exams.


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 who are not yet sufficiently familiar with adaptive technology to use during exams
  • Permanent vision loss or cognitive barriers taking exams where adaptive technology is not feasible (e.g., math or foreign language exams)
  • Permanent vision loss or cognitive barriers 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

student during an exam. Instructors, teaching assistants, graduate and upper-year students, proctors, or administrative staff may serve as qualified readers.

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 processes or completes 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 barriers which significantly restrict their ability to handwrite or type their exam answers.

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 barriers 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's 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)

Students with this accommodation may use various kinds of adaptive technology on either their laptop, tablet, or phone. These adaptive technologies may be purchased upon recommendation from the Adaptive Technology Centre (ATC) or free and downloaded by students.

Adaptive technologies may be used both in the classroom as well as during exams.

During online exams, students who already have adaptive software programs listed in their exam accommodations and installed on their computer are permitted to use them.

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

  • Read & Write – Can be downloaded for free by all Queen’s students to help with reading, studying, writing and revision
  • Natural Reader - Available free for Windows and Mac OS. Once downloaded and installed, the program does not require internet access

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 may be permitted to use noise cancelling headphones or earplugs while completing exams.
  • Students are 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 available.

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.


Request for Access to Instructor for Clarification

Students receiving this accommodation can approach their instructor to ask if they may be available for clarifying questions during an exam. It should be noted that instructors may not be able to make themselves available for students during exams, so QSAS cannot guarantee the feasibility of this accommodation.

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 (PDF, 76.2 KB).