Referring Students to AAS
You have a unique perspective working directly with students and as such, there will be occasions where you consider referring a student to Academic Accommodation Support (AAS).
This resource will help you determine when and how to refer a student to AAS. Once connected with AAS, we will work to determine if the student is eligible for academic accommodations, and if not, assist them in connecting with more appropriate resources and supports.
Not all situations are appropriate to refer to AAS and you can learn more about these in the “Beyond AAS: Campus Referrals” section of this resource.
You may encounter situations where it is appropriate to refer students to our office. These include:
Student discloses a disability (known or suspected), ongoing illness, or symptoms. Some examples of when you should refer to Academic Accommodation Support are:
- Student discloses a known disability, illness, or condition
- e.g., “I find this difficult because of my ADHD”, “I have low vision”, or “I broke my wrist”.
- Student discloses a suspected disability, illness, or condition
- e.g., “I think I may be depressed”, “I can’t seem to get over that traumatic event”, or “maybe I have a learning disability”.
- Student requests an accommodation for ongoing health reasons, such as a condition that persists beyond the scope of an ACR request
- e.g., “I’ve been experiencing severe daily headaches since the beginning of the semester, can I get an extension?”, or “I couldn’t get my work done because of some ongoing medical problems from a recent car accident”.
- Student discloses symptoms that may be a result of an underlying condition
- e.g., “I’m having a panic attack”, “I’m having difficulty hearing you speak”, or “I’m emotionally unwell”.
- Student requests a retroactive accommodation
- e.g., “I want to take the test I missed because I was in the hospital on the write date.”
Like many referrals, an expression of concern is a good place to start.
As AAS focuses on disability-related 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.
When referring a student who discloses a disability (known or suspected), ongoing illness, or symptoms, you may want to:
- Thank the student for confiding in you.
- Indicate that you will work with AAS to ensure students are appropriately accommodated and supported once they are registered with AAS.
- Indicate that AAS facilitates the provision of academic accommodations for students with a wide range of permanent, episodic, and temporary disabilities. It may be helpful to clarify that this includes mental health, learning, cognitive, and medical disabilities. Even if the student is unsure of whether they qualify for accommodation support, AAS can talk them through next steps, offer consultation appointments, consider interim accommodations, and refer them elsewhere if appropriate.
- You may let the student know that you can make a “warm referral” if they wish, meaning that if the student is comfortable and provides consent, then you can email AAS on their behalf and copy them. AAS’ email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Be mindful that some students may not wish to connect with AAS or would prefer to seek AAS’s services on their own.
- Indicate that in order to protect their privacy, AAS does not share any medical / psychological or sensitive personal information with professors or academic departments. You can clarify that if they register with AAS, only their academic support needs will be shared.
AAS is one of many departments within Toronto Metropolitan University that provide support for students’ health, wellbeing, and academic success. These include Student Life and Learning Support (SLLS), Centre for Student Development and Counselling (CDSC), the Medical Centre, Student Care Office, and Academic Advisors within your department.
TMU also offers Notice, Engage, Refer + Debrief training, which is designed to help TMU community members respond to mental health related distress.
Below are descriptions of areas of concern and the departments that may best provide support to the student. This is not an exhaustive list of available supports and every situation is unique. If you are concerned about a student but unsure how to approach the situation, the Student Care office offers confidential consultations to faculty.
- Crisis and Risk Assessment - AAS does not offer crisis services to students or crisis consultation support to staff and faculty. The CDSC offers an “In Crisis?” page with links to resources to be used when a situation is urgent such as when there is an immediate concern for student health/safety, including situations where a student may be in distress or at risk of harm. The CDSC also offers a comprehensive resource page for student facing employees that includes how to respond to students in need and various referrals that can be made to the office.
- Diagnosis and Treatment - students who are unsure whether they have a disability or require a health assessment and/or treatment should be referred to the campus Medical Centre.
- Mental Health and Counselling Support - students requiring counselling support should be referred the CSDC
- Interpersonal or Behavioural Concerns - students can be referred to the Student Care office.
- Sexual Assault or Domestic Violence - refer the student to Consent Comes First. The office also includes a faculty-facing guide to supporting students who disclose sexual assault or domestic violence.
- Accommodations for Non-Disability Human Rights Grounds - AAS only provides disability-related accommodations. All other human rights accommodations, such as religious or compassionate grounds, are arranged directly with academic departments.
- General Information: For questions regarding accommodation procedures, AAS deadlines, and AAS programming, please contact email@example.com
- Academic Accommodation Plan Questions: For questions about a specific accommodation or student situation, please email the facilitator listed on the student’s academic accommodation plan.
- You can view accommodation plans and administer accommodated tests and exams through the AAS Faculty Portal.
- AAS Training and Presentations: AAS offers presentations, training, and Q&A sessions for all academic and administrative departments. (google form) Book a presentation (external link) .
- Course Design Questions: To learn more about inclusive learning practices such as Universal Design for Learning and best practices in accessibility to decrease the need for accommodations, contact firstname.lastname@example.org