University of Saskatchewan

Policies

Students with Disabilities: Academic Accommodation and Access

Student Affairs and Activities

Responsibility: University Registrar
Authorization: Board of Governors
Approval Date: Mar 1, 1997
Reformatted: Mar 30, 2001
Amended: Sep 1, 2011

1. Purpose

To foster diversity, inclusiveness, and student success by providing that students with disabilities are not discriminated against; and that they receive equal opportunities for academic success and personal development at the University of Saskatchewan.
For the purposes of this policy, disabilities are those defined as such in Section 2(1)(d.1) of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code (hereafter called the “Code”).
For purposes of this policy, the home college for undergraduate students is the college to which the student has been admitted, and for graduate students is the college responsible for the program to which the student has been admitted.
Additional definitions and abbreviations are as follows:

2. Principles

2.1   As stated in The University of Saskatchewan Strategic Directions: Renewing Our Dream (2002) the University is committed to “principles of human dignity and fairness in all we do, including strategies for equity and diversity in education, employment, and all our activities.”

2.2  The learning vision articulated in the University of Saskatchewan Learning Charter (2010), states that the University is seen as a “unique community of learning and discovery, where people can embark on a process of development through which they grow, create, and learn, in a context characterized by diversity—of academic programs, of ways of knowing and learning, and of its members.”

2.3   Respect for all members of the University community will be upheld at all times. Discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated.

2.4 All members of the University community, including students, will contribute to achieving a social and physical environment that is diverse, inclusive, and accessible to all. Physical accessibility should always be ensured when designing new space, renovating existing space, and managing facility accessibility.

2.5 The needs of students with disabilities will be taken into consideration when planning and executing admission requirements, courses, course requirements, assessment methods, examination dates, scholarships and awards, programs, services, and informational material. Colleges are encouraged to have disability accommodation policies that align with and are a supplement to this policy, but outline essential skills and requirements and accommodations specific to their College. Such policy development should be done with assistance from the DSS manager or designate.

2.6 Students with disabilities will meet the same academic requirements and standards as all students, although the manner by which students with disabilities meet these may vary.

2.7 In recognition that ability is diverse in kind and degree, the University will adapt its services and programs to accommodate the needs of individual students, in accordance with the requirements of the Code.

2.8 Academic integrity, as defined by the University Council and Board of Governors, will be upheld by those providing and receiving academic accommodations.

2.9 All administrative, instructional, and support staff share the University’s responsibility under the Code to accommodate students with disabilities.

2.10 While students with disabilities are encouraged to share information regarding their accommodations with instructional staff in their Colleges and academic units who would play a role in facilitating their accommodations, such information can be released only with the student’s consent. See Section 4.2 for more information.

3. Scope

This policy applies to all students with disabilities enrolled at the University. Its implementation is the responsibility of all members of the University community, including students, support staff, faculty, instructional staff), and senior administrators. The University is ultimately responsible and committed to enforce the requirements of this policy.

4. Policy

The University will take all measures short of undue hardship to the University to ensure that students with disabilities have access to the University and the opportunity to succeed in their programs of study. Suitable academic accommodations are fundamental to support students with disabilities, but when provided, those accommodations shall not compromise the University’s academic requirements and standards.

4.1 Reasonable Academic Accommodations

4.1.1 In accordance with the Code, reasonable academic accommodations must be provided to students with disabilities.

4.1.2 The University is required to make efforts to reasonably accommodate a student with a disability when the disability impairs the student’s ability to fulfill the essential requirements of a course/program.

The essential requirements of a course/program are the knowledge and skills which must be acquired or demonstrated in order for a student to successfully meet the learning objectives of the course/program.

In the absence of College-level disability accommodation policies that outline essential skills and requirements as noted in Section 2.5 of this document, determinations of reasonable accommodations in courses and programs must be made in concert with DSS.

In some circumstances, the nature and degree of a disability may mean that no reasonable accommodation would enable an individual to perform the essential requirements of a course/program. Where no reasonable accommodation can be provided, the University may refuse admission or accommodations in order to preserve the academic integrity (meaning the essential requirements) of a course/program.

A person cannot be presumed incapable of performing the essential requirements of a course/program unless an effort has been made to canvass all reasonable options for accommodation.

4.1.3 Accommodations will be provided up to the point of undue hardship to the University. A number of factors are weighed when assessing whether or not the hardship associated with an accommodation is undue, including:

a) the nature of the requested or required accommodation;

b) the financial cost of the accommodation;

c) the ability of the student receiving the accommodation to meet admission or program requirements;

d) the degree to which the accommodation might impact on or interfere with other students or faculty;

e) whether health or safety concerns would arise as a result of the accommodation; and

f) the reasonableness or cooperativeness of the student seeking accommodation. These factors are not listed in order of priority. The weight that will be given to these factors or any other relevant considerations will depend on the circumstances.

4.2 Confidentiality of Students’ Personal Information

4.2.1 Confidentiality of all students’ personal information will be respected at all times.

4.2.2 In accordance with the University’s policy respecting the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy and The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, all personal information relating to the disabilities of students is to remain confidential. Information about a student’s disabilities, including the fact that a student has a disability, will only be shared with staff and instructional staff who must be provided the information in order to investigate or implement an accommodation and only then on a confidential basis. Information about a student’s disability will not be disclosed to anyone by DSS or by other University personnel without the express written consent of the student, except when permitted by The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, The Health Information Protection Act or required by law. Where information about a student with a disability is disclosed by DSS, the recipients of that information must be made aware of the confidentiality of the information.

4.2.3 While DSS accommodations may be discussed in general with colleagues who are not involved in teaching specific classes, care must be taken to not identify any student as having a disability without that student’s consent. A procedural document, “DSS Guidelines for the Effective Provision of Accommodations” is available to assist instructional staff with understanding how best to support students with disabilities. See Section 7 for more information.

4.3 Reduced Course Load (RCL) accommodation and recognition of full-time status

Some programs and benefits offered by external agencies are limited to full-time university students. For purposes of clarity, students who receive an RCL accommodation, and who would otherwise be full-time students, are considered to be full-time students by the University.

4.4. Responsibilities in the Provision of Accommodations

4.4.1 Responsibilities of Students with Disabilities

Students are their own best advocates, and must understand that a reasonable measure of self-reliance is necessary for academic success. Sometimes the nature of the disability itself makes it difficult for the student to be aware of the need for accommodation and to participate in the design and implementation of the accommodation. Students, staff, or instructional staff who are concerned that a student may have such a disability should contact DSS. DSS will evaluate what steps, if any, are necessary to address the student’s need

DSS is available to provide services and support to students who:

4.4.1.1 Register with DSS by providing current and relevant documentation from a licensed health practitioner.

4.4.1.2 Adhere to the policies and procedures of each DSS service accessed, as outlined in the “DSS Guidelines for the Effective Provision of Accommodations” document (see Section 7).

Regardless of whether accommodations are provided by DSS or by others in the University community, students with disabilities will:

4.4.1.3 Participate in developing and implementing strategies related to their own academic success, and be open to trying solutions proposed by DSS, instructional staff, and others.

4.4.1.4 Understand that sufficient notice must be given in order to receive academic accommodations. Numerous programs, departments, and individuals across campus may provide accommodations, and questions regarding what “sufficient notice” entails should be directed to the provider of accommodations.

4.4.2 Responsibilities of Disability Services for Students (DSS)

The role of DSS is to provide advice, information, and assistance to the University community and to provide services and resources to students with disabilities.

To fulfill its mandate, DSS will:

4.4.2.1 Encourage all students with disabilities to register with DSS. If a student discloses a disability to a person or office other than DSS, that student should be referred to DSS.

4.4.2.2 Assist students, staff, and instructional staff in understanding how to apply Section 4.2 of this document.

4.4.2.3 Approve appropriate academic accommodations for each individual student registered with DSS, taking into consideration the accommodations specified by the student’s documentation, available resources, and academic integrity.

Accommodations will be approved through the joint DSS-College accommodation planning committee where applicable. Where no joint DSS-College accommodation planning committee applies, DSS will engage in appropriate consultations with the staff and instructional staff that would be impacted by the accommodation.

4.4.2.4 Coordinate the requests for, and assist in the provision of, academic accommodations; and provide advice and assistance regarding accessibility issues.

4.4.2.5 Provide and maintain programs and services that are necessary to support students with disabilities.

4.4.2.6 Provide appropriate and necessary exam accommodations when requested by students within published DSS deadlines, and assist instructional and support staff in the provision of exam accommodations. While the primary responsibility for exam accommodations lies with DSS, the entire University community has a responsibility to ensure the needs of students with disabilities are met, in accordance with the Code.

4.4.2.7 Provide assistance and advice to students regarding available options for redress wherever students with disabilities have complaints related to academic or non-academic matters.

4.4.3 Responsibilities of Instructional Staff

To help accommodate students with disabilities and facilitate their academic success while maintaining the University’s academic requirements and standards, instructional staff will:

4.4.3.1 Foster a positive atmosphere for all students, including those with disabilities. Instructional staff will ensure that issues related to disabilities and people with disabilities are addressed and discussed in a fair, sensitive, and nondiscriminatory manner.

4.4.3.2 Make every reasonable accommodation to facilitate and foster the learning of all students. This may require course assignments and other methods of assessment, physical environment, instructional atmosphere, supplementary instruction, instructional tools, or other resources.

4.4.3.3 Consult with the Department Head (or Dean in non-departmentalized Colleges) in situations where necessary accommodations require resources beyond those that can be provided by instructional staff

4.4.3.4 Maintain confidentiality of information regarding students with disabilities in accordance with Section 4.2 of this document. Questions about how to apply Section 4.2 should be addressed to DSS or the instructor’s department head or dean.

4.4.4 Responsibilities of Department Heads in departmentalized Colleges

Department Heads will:

4.4.4.1 Ensure that instructional and administrative staff are familiar with this policy.

4.4.4.2 Commit the resources of the department to implement the accommodations, and consult with the Dean in situations where necessary accommodations require resources beyond those that can be provided by the department.

4.4.4.3 Inform DSS and the Assistant/Associate Deans and Deans of their Colleges if they are concerned that their department may be unable to provide the approved accommodations.

4.4.4.4 Uphold and assist instructional and support staff with understanding how to uphold Section 4.2 of this document.  

4.4.5 Responsibilities of Deans, Assistant or Associate Deans, Executive Directors of Schools, Directors of Centres offering academic programs or Designates

Deans, Assistant or Associate Deans, Executive Directors, Directors and/or their designates will:

4.4.5.1 Promote a positive learning environment for students with disabilities and consult with DSS as needed.

4.4.5.2 Ensure that the department heads and instructional staff under their jurisdiction are aware of this policy and understand their legal requirements to accommodate students with disabilities.

4.4.5.3 Maintain the confidentiality of student information and documentation in accordance with Section 4.2 of this document.

4.4.5.4 Review and decide disputes over accommodation requests in accordance with Section 5.

4.4.5.5 Commit the necessary resources of the College/Centre/School to implement the accommodations and, in exceptional circumstances, consult with the Provost where the College/Centre/School lacks the necessary resources to provide the accommodations.

4.4.5.6 In circumstances where the student is seeking accommodation in a University course or clinical activity outside the student’s home College, the Dean who is responsible for the course or clinical activity in which the accommodation is being sought shall carry out the responsibilities under Section 4.4.5.

5. Dispute Resolution Process

5.1 A student who is approved for an accommodation by DSS, or where applicable by a joint DSS-College accommodation planning committee, shall not be denied accommodation by instructional staff. If an instructional staff member or a student with a disability has concerns and questions about interpretation and application of accommodations, these concerns and questions should be addressed directly to DSS staff or, where applicable, to joint DSS-College accommodation planning committees for an informal resolution.

5.2 If an instructor staff member or a student with a disability is not satisfied with an accommodation decision made by DSS or a joint DSS-College planning committee or with the outcome of the informal resolution process, he or she may ask the Dean of the College (or the Provost in place of the Dean in cases where the instructor is the Dean) to review the matter. The Dean will fully inform himself or herself of the circumstances. The Dean shall not refuse an accommodation until after consulting with the Provost or designate (normally the Associate Vice-President Student Affairs) and University legal counsel. The Dean’s decision will be rendered in a timely fashion; normally within 30 days of the Dean receiving the request to review the accommodation. The decision of the Dean is final. The Director of a Centre will conduct the review in the case of a student of a Centre.

5.3 The Dean, in consultation with DSS, will determine whether or not accommodations should be made or continued while the matter is under review by the Dean, and a primary consideration will be whether the student will be irreparably prejudiced by delay in the matter being decided.

5.4 The provisions of section 4.2 will be respected and applied during and after the review process.  

6. Non-compliance

Following due process, the University may take one or more of the following actions against anyone whose activities are in violation of any applicable legislation or of this policy:

7. Procedures

Procedures regarding the application of this policy are held at DSS, in the form of the “DSS Guidelines for the Effective Provision of Accommodations” document. These procedures will be reviewed annually by DSS and the DSS Policy Committee, with revisions made as necessary.

Related Documents

There are no other documents associated with this policy.

Contact Information

Contact Person: University Registrar and Director of Student Services
Email: registrar@usask.ca
Phone: 306-966-6723
Website: http://www.usask.ca/sesd/about/dss.php