In the most general sense, a student requires academic accommodations when they have a disability (or disabilities) that impacts how they receive class information, participate in courses, and/or demonstrate their learning ( Senate Policy 159).
AAS works to understand the disability-related, functional limitations of the students who register with us. We then develop an accommodation plan to enable them to participate fully in their studies.
Like many referrals, an expression of concern is a good way to start. As AAS focuses on academic support, simply identifying to a student that you notice they are struggling academically is one way to approach the conversation. Let them know that AAS offers consults to explore a student’s options, even if they don’t yet have a diagnosed disability, and remind them that any contact with AAS is kept strictly confidential.
Students can visit our website or email email@example.com for more information.
Accommodation-related information can be shared on a need to know basis, with those on the teaching and administrative teams for a course. For example, a teaching assistant should be aware of accommodations related to students in their section that impact their role. Also, keep conversations about a student’s particular accommodations private, which includes not discussing their individual circumstances in front of their peers.
- Disclosing the identity of students registered with AAS with other students or unnecessary faculty/staff.
- Asking the nature of a student’s disability or their disability diagnosis. Instead, focus on how their disability impacts their academic functioning.
- Accepting any medical documentation related to accommodation from a student; direct them to AAS. Conversely, medical documentation related to academic consideration or for a missed test/exam should be accepted in accordance with departmental policy.
Accommodation plans are developed following professional practices and involve three general steps:
- The student submits current documentation to AAS. The documentation we require is dependent on the disability and must be completed by a registered healthcare professional who is qualified to make the diagnosis.
- A Student Accommodation Facilitator reviews all relevant documentation. We evaluate the student’s functional limitations and each recommendation with respect to the student’s needs in the post-secondary educational setting.
- The student answers questions and/or attends a registration appointment to discuss their experiences, develop their accommodation plan with their Facilitator, and learn about their responsibilities as an AAS-registered student.
Accommodations are based on impact and barriers, not just disability. In other words, we distill what barriers a student faces in an academic setting due to the impacts of their disability; then, we address those barriers using accommodations. Therefore, the same accommodation may be assigned to students with very different disabilities.
For example, a common accommodation is extra time on tests. This accommodation is used for any student with a disability that may impact their ability to complete a test in a limited period of time; however it addresses a large range of impacts, such as memory difficulties (eg. brain injuries), processing speed (e.g. learning disabilities), difficulty focusing for extended periods of time (e.g. ADHD), or remaining seated for longer durations (e.g. chronic pain).
AAS recognizes the importance of upholding essential academic requirements of courses and programs, while still providing an accessible opportunity for students (University Policy 159). Sometimes, the essential requirements and academic accommodations fit together easily; other times, both essential requirements and accommodations must be explored in partnership with AAS. This exploration helps ensure that both the integrity of the course and our institutional responsibility for access to education are upheld.
Key considerations for when essential requirements and accommodations appear to be in conflict (IDIA, 2012):
- Must the skill or knowledge be demonstrated in order to meet the objectives of the course or program?
- Must the skill or knowledge be demonstrated in a prescribed manner in order to meet the objective of the course or program?
- Does the accommodation maintain the essential requirements of the course?
If you receive an accommodation plan that seems to be in conflict with the essential requirements of your course (as documented in your course outline or program curriculum), contact the Student Accommodation Facilitator listed on the plan.
The impact of a disability may mean that a student needs additional time to complete assignments. When extensions on assignments have been deemed necessary as a disability-related accommodation by AAS, it will be listed in the student’s academic accommodation letter.
When a student requires an extension, they are expected to make the request in advance of the due date, notwithstanding extenuating circumstances.
The length of an extension is determined on a case-by-case basis by the instructor as individual assignments and course structure may vary. It is important to evaluate the request with respect to the course structure, as well as administrative deadlines, essential requirements, and the academic integrity of the course.
When determining an extension length, AAS generally suggests working with the student to establish an appropriate new deadline. Often, the student is also considering dates of evaluations in other courses when making the request. If they do not ask for a specific date, try giving a time frame and asking what works for them.
To use this accommodation, students must sign an Audio Recording Agreement with AAS and request permission from the instructor prior to recording.
They are also beholden to the same policies and procedures regarding academic and non-Academic conduct (Policy 60 & 61) as all other students on campus. For more information about Ryerson processes related to copyright and student’s sharing course materials online, see University Copyright: My Teaching Materials Have Been Posted Online FAQ.
The university has a legal duty to accommodate students with disabilities under the Ontario Human Rights Code. There are simple ways to address certain concerns with this accommodation:
- Instructors can record their own lectures and post them on D2L, disabling the download function so students can only access the recording while the course shell is active.
- If recording yourself, you can also stop and start the recording at certain times, such as during more sensitive peer discussions
- Instructors can indicate that audio recording in the course is permitted for all students, but that they will request the recorders be turned off at certain times
AAS peer note taking recruits note-takers only if requested by a qualifying AAS-registered student. The student makes the request in our automated system and an email is sent directly to the course instructor. In this email, we are seeking your assistance with recruiting a note-taker from your class. We request that you post this D2L announcement and/or share this peer note taking promotional video (external link) with your class, directing potential note-takers to sign up with our program. We take care of the rest.
The confidentiality of both the AAS-registered student and the note-taker must be upheld. Simply direct anyone who wishes to be a note-taker to sign up at www.torontomu.ca/peernotes or email firstname.lastname@example.org.