Student Wellness Services

Student Wellness Services

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Queen’s University is committed to accommodating students with disabilities to ensure they have equitable access to the learning environment.  The university is also committed to an accommodation process that protects and preserves the student’s right to dignity, autonomy and full access, while respecting academic standards and requirements. 

Disability Documentation

Students seeking academic accommodation for reasons of a disability at Queen’s University must provide QSAS with documentation completed by a qualified health care practitioner. 

Students should carefully review the documentation requirements for each disability category and the health care practitioners qualified to complete the documentation.

Disability documentation performs the following important functions in the academic accommodation process:

  • Verifies that the student is a person with a disability.  Disability being a protected ground in the Ontario Human Rights Code, only students with disabilities are entitled to academic accommodations through QSAS.
  • Provides the university with sufficient information about the student’s disability and their accommodation needs so that it can fulfill its legislative duty under the Code
  • Clearly describes the functional limitations the student experiences as a result of their disability and how these impact on the student’s access to the learning environment

A disability must be related to a diagnosed condition.  Stress is not a disability, for example.  However, functional limitations stemming from a diagnosed generalized anxiety disorder can be disabling. 

A functional limitation is any restriction stemming from a disability that limits a person’s ability to perform activities necessary to access and participate in the university learning environment. 

Disability documentation may need to be updated over time to ensure that accommodation and support plans continues to meet the student’s access needs. 

Disability Category versus Medical Diagnosis

Medical Diagnosis

Consistent with guidance found in the Policy on Accessible Education for Students with Disabilities (2018) by the Ontario Human Rights Commission, students are NOT required to disclose their medical diagnosis to receive academic accommodations at Queen's University. 

Disability Category

Consistent with policy guidance, QSAS disability documentation forms and requirements do request information about the nature of the student’s disability (i.e., disability category).  Appropriate documentation provides sufficient detail about the student’s disability-related functional limitations.  This information informs accommodation planning by helping us understand how these limitations impact on the student’s access to the learning environment at Queen’s. 

Students with hearing loss experience functional limitations in the classroom or during exams that are significantly different from those experienced by students with a brain injury or a mental health disability.

The OHRC recognizes the special role that staff in accessibility offices like QSAS have in the accommodation process.  “The OHRC recognizes that staff in accessibility offices for students with disabilities typically have expertise in dealing with accommodation issues in the academic environment.  These professionals play an important role in assisting with the accommodation process.  Students may choose to provide these offices with more detailed information about their disabilities, including a diagnostic assessment, where they believe doing so will help facilitate the provision of accommodation” (OHRC, Policy on Accessible Education, 2018).

Documentation Requirements

Attention Disability

Examples includes attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention deficit disorder (ADD).

Documentation Requirements - One of the following:

  1. QSAS Disability Verification Form for Attention Disability
  2. Psychoeducational Assessment – Completed within last 3 years

Qualified Health Care Practitioners:

  • Psychologist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Family Physician
Brain Injury

Examples include acquired brain injury (ABI) or concussion.

Documentation Requirements - One of the following:

  1. QSAS Disability Verification Form for Brain Injury
  2. Neuropsychological Assessment – Completed within the last 3 years
  3. Concussion Clinic Documentation/Assessment

Qualified Health Care Practitioners:

  • Neurologist
  • Neuropsychologist
  • Psychologist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Psychological Associate
  • Family Physician
  • Physician – Sports Medicine
Developmental Disorder

Examples include “Asperger’s Syndrome”, autism spectrum disorder, or social communication disorder.

Documentation Requirements - One of the following:

  1. QSAS Disability Verification Form for Developmental Disorder
  2. Neuropsychological Assessment - Completed within the last 3 years
  3. Psychoeducational Assessment - Completed within the last 3 years

Qualified Health Care Practitioners:

  • Psychologist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Developmental Pediatrician
  • Family Physician
Hearing Loss

Examples include Deaf, deafened, hard of hearing, or Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)

Documentation Requirements - One of the following:

  1. QSAS Disability Verification Form for Hearing Loss
  2. Audiogram – Completed within the last 1 year
  3. Audiology Assessment

Qualified Health Care Practitioners:

  • Audiologist
  • Family Physician
Learning Disability

Learning disability (LD) is a lifelong, neurodevelopmental disorder commonly manifested, but not always diagnosed, in childhood. Diagnosis of a specific LD requires evidence of a significant impairment in some area of academic achievement relative to other students of the same age. A diagnosis must demonstrate how processing deficits are conceptually linked to academic achievement delay.

In Canada, a LD can be formally diagnosed only through a comprehensive psychoeducational assessment completed by a registered clinical psychologist or psychological associate.

Accurate diagnosis of LD is necessary in order to distinguish this disorder from other potential causes of presenting symptoms or problems. Accurate diagnosis is also fundamental to the development of proper supports and accommodations in the academic context.

Queen’s University accepts psycho-educational reports that uses the definition of a learning disability as approved by the Learning Disability Association of Ontario(LDAO) or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V (DSM-V).

Documentation Requirements

Students with LD must submit a psycho-educational assessment report in support of their request for academic accommodation at Queen’s University.

Qualified Professional

Psychoeducational assessment reports must be completed by one of the following qualified professionals:

  • Clinical or education psychologist
  • School psychologist
  • Neuropsychologist
  • Clinical Psychological Associate

A psycho-educational assessment includes a special battery of cognitive and academic tests, student interview, parent and/or teacher surveys, and a review of relevant records (i.e., school reports).

Assessment of the following domains must be included at a minimum:

  1. Aptitude/Cognitive Ability – complete intellectual assessment with all subtests and scores, using age-appropriate measures
  2. Information Processing – auditory and visual perception/processing, processing speed, visual-motor processing, phonological processing, executive functioning
  3. Academic Achievement – comprehensive battery, with all subtests and scores reported, including current functioning level in reading (decoding and comprehension), mathematics, oral and written language
  4. Informal Observations – of the student during assessment, including their effort, and its impact on reliability of the test scores

Requests for specific academic accommodations, such as memory aids, may require further testing of specific abilities such as:

  1. Memory – short- and long-term memory, including encoding and recall of visual and auditory memory as well as working memory
  2. Other Measures – administered to rule in or out a LD or to differentiate it from co-existing neurological and/or psychiatric illness

Note: The relationship between the identified areas of academic impairment and the deficient information-processing skills should be logically evident.

Assessment Report Criteria

Assessment reports must:

  • Describe the presenting problem
  • Summarize the student’s psychosocial history, family history, primary language information, and any major life events or activities that may impact on learning to rule out medical, psychiatric, or other basis for deficits
  • Include a complete academic history:
    • Elementary and secondary school reports
    • Post-secondary grades, if applicable
    • Standardized testing results (e.g., LSAT, MCAT, GRE, etc.), if applicable
  • Detail the results of assessment measures as described above
  • State explicitly that the student’s results meet the LDAO or DSM-V diagnostic criteria of a learning disability

SCORES: Actual test scores and/or percentiles must be reported for all standardized measures administered. In a competitive, adult-learning academic environment like Queen’s University, scores reported using adult norms should be used wherever possible.

Clinical Interpretative Summary

Psychoeducational assessment reports must include a clinical interpretative summary that:

  • Rules out psychological, medical, attentional, motivation or behavioral explanations for academic delay
  • Describes the patterns of cognitive ability, information processing, and academic achievements that were used to make the LD diagnosis
  • Specifies the student’s functional limitations as demonstrated by the assessment measures
  • Specifies the degree to which the LD affects the student in a university academic context

Recommendations

Any support and/or accommodation recommendations included in the report must be directly linked to specifics tests or clinical observations.

ACCOMMODATIONS: QSAS conducts a full intake assessment that includes reviewing all disability documentation and interviewing the student about their lived experience of their disability. Using this assessment, Queen’s University reserves the right to grant academic accommodations that support the student’s equitable and dignified access to the learning environment while protecting and preserving academic standards and integrity.

Age of Report

Queen’s University requires that psycho-educational assessments for LD be completed within the last 3 years.

Assessments completed within the last 3 to 5 years will be considered on a case-by-case basis, as will assessments that were completed after the student’s 18th birthday.

A LD is normally viewed as ongoing and lifelong. However, the severity and manifestations of the condition may change over time. A functional limitation or learning challenge for a student in Grade 8 may change as they mature and acquire new coping and learning strategies during high school. An up-to-date, comprehensive assessment gives the student and QSAS the most accurate information about their current learning strengths and challenges to best inform accommodation and support planning best suited in an adult learning environment like university.

Outdated Assessments

Students whose assessment is out-of-date may be granted interim accommodations until an updated assessment can be completed. These interim accommodations are approved on a term-by-term basis and may be available for up to one full academic year. Interim accommodations are approved based on information available to QSAS, including the student’s report of their lived experience of their disability. Interim accommodations are usually minimal and are intended to address the student’s most pressing access needs. Depending on the quality of information available about the student’s current functioning, interim accommodation may not fully address all of the student’s access needs. QSAS updates and adjusts student accommodation plans in a timely fashion upon receipt of current documentation.

All students with outdated assessments are entitled to referral support from QSAS to qualified practitioners for a new assessment. Students eligible for the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) may also be eligible for financial support. Please speak with your QSAS advisor for more information.

Identification versus Diagnosis

The Education Act, 1990 in Ontario allows for the accommodation and support of identified students without a formal disability diagnosis. Some identified students are granted an individual education plan (IEP). It should be noted that identification as an exceptional student or being granted an IEP in high school is not the same as a diagnosis of a permanent disability.

At Queen’s University, only students with verified disabilities are entitled to academic accommodations with proper documentation. A prior history of accommodation in high school on its own does not warrant the provision of similar accommodations at Queen’s.

NOTE:  The above Documentation Requirements for Learning Disability is available to download in Word and PDF format.

Medical Disability

Examples include diabetes, heart condition, cancer, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, etc.

Documentation Requirement:

Qualified Health Care Practitioners:

  • Specialist Physician
  • Family Physician
Mental Health/Psychiatric Disability

Examples include major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, etc.

Documentation Requirements - One of the following:

  1. QSAS Disability Verification Form for Mental Health/Psychiatric Disability
  2. Neuropsychological Assessment - Completed within the last 1 year
  3. Psychoeducational Assessment – Completed within the last 1 year
  4. Psychological Assessment – Completed within the last 1 year
  5. Psychiatric Assessment/Report – Completed within the last 1 year

Qualified Health Care Practitioners:

  • Psychologist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Family Physician
Physical/Functional Disability

Examples include mobility disabilities, cerebral palsy, developmental coordination disorder, etc.

Documentation Requirements - One of the following:

  1. QSAS Disability Verification Form for Physical/Functional Disability
  2. Handwriting Assessment – Completed within the last 3 years

Qualified Health Care Practitioners:

  1. Rheumatologist
  2. Neurologist
  3. Sports Medicine Physician
  4. Orthopedist
  5. Family Physician

Handwriting assessment completed by an Occupational Therapist

Vision Loss

Examples include low vision, blindness or legally blind.

Documentation Requirements - One of the following:

  1. QSAS Disability Verification Form for Vision Loss
  2. Vision Assessment
  3. CNIB Card

Qualified Health Care Practitioners

  • Ophthalmologist
  • Optometrist
  • Family Physician

If you are still undergoing assessment, unsure which category best describes your disability, or have questions about the health care provider best suited to complete your documentation, please contact the QSAS Intake Coordinator (qsas.intake@queensu.ca) for support.

Other Documentation

Students may submit other supporting documentation that often includes information helpful to understanding them and their disability.  However, these documents alone are not sufficient for the purposes of academic accommodation planning.

Individual Educational Plan

This document is issued by your high school listing the accommodations and other supports for which you were approved.  It can provide QSAS helpful information about the accommodations you received in high school.

It confirms only that you were identified as a student requiring these supports.  Many students with disabilities receive an IEP.  However, students who are identified but not diagnosed with a disability can also receive an IEP.  As such, an IEP is not sufficient documentation for accommodation planning at Queen’s.

Documentation from other Health Care Providers

Documentation from other health care providers not listed above, including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and chiropractors, sometimes provide helpful information regarding a student’s functional impairments. However, this information is not sufficient on its own for granting accommodations at Queen’s and must be accompanied by disability verification information from an appropriate health care provider as identified in the sections above.

OSAP Disability Verification Form

The OSAP Disability Verification Form is required by the Ontario government to confirm that you are a student with a disability for OSAP purposes. It is intended only to confirm your eligibility for financial programs.  It is not intended to inform accommodation planning. 

Interim Accommodations

Students undergoing assessment or evaluation for a disability or health condition but still waiting for a confirmed disability diagnosis are eligible for support and service from QSAS.  This could include interim academic accommodations. 

Interim accommodations are approved on a term-by-term basis, and may be available for up to one full academic year.  Interim accommodations are approved based on information available to QSAS, including the student’s report of their lived experience of their disability. 

Interim accommodations are usually minimal and intended only to address the student’s most immediate access needs.  Depending on the quality of information available, interim accommodation may not fully address all of the student’s access needs. 

QSAS updates and adjusts student accommodations plans in a timely fashion upon receipt of current documentation. 

Students should provide their health care provider with the appropriate form from the list above and ask that they provide information available to date about the student’s disability and associated functional limitations.    

Students are also encouraged to submit any other documentation they may have about their disability in support of their request for interim academic accommodation including:

  • Out-of-date psycho-educational or neuro-psychological assessments
  • Out-of-date medical documentation
  • Individual Educational Plans (IEPs)

Note:  QSAS will consider the documentation submitted and information obtained from the student about their lived experience of their disability in determining whether to grant interim accommodations. 

Submit Documentation

Once your documentation is ready, visit our Registration page.  There you can upload your documentation using our secure online portal.