What is an accommodation?Image of an instructor and a student.

An academic accommodation is an arrangement that is put in place to support a student with a disability. Accommodations are provided to “level the playing field”. They are available because the disability may put the student at a disadvantage compared to other students who don’t have a disability. VIU recognizes the legal duty to provide reasonable accommodations to students with a documented disability.

Who can access services?

Students who are registered at VIU and have provided Disability Access Services with current documentation of a disability.

A student in my class is having difficulty and I suspect it might be disability related. What can I do?

Refer the student to Disability Access Services, discuss teaching and learning alternatives, and what you may be able to provide while the student explores registering with DS.

Is the information about a student’s disability and their academic accommodation confidential?

Yes. It is confidential and private information.
See: BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

How do I know if a student is qualified to receive disability accommodations?

The student should bring you a “Letter for Instructors” at the beginning of term that indicates he/she has provided our office with documentation of disability (completed by a health care professional).  The letter outlines what accommodations the student is approved to receive.

Is there anything I should do at the beginning of term?

Please make an announcement about Disability Access Services during the first week of class. Let students know you are aware and supportive of services. Include a welcome statement in your course syllabus such as:

Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. In particular, if you have a disability/health consideration that may require accommodation, please feel free to approach me and/or Disability Access Services (DS) as soon as possible. The DS staff is available by appointment to assess specific needs, provide referrals and arrange appropriate accommodations. The sooner you let us know your needs the quicker we can assist you in achieving your learning goals in this course.

I’ve never been around students with visible disabilities. Are there language or terms I should be aware of?

Attendance as an Accommodation

In some situations, disability-related symptoms can impact a student's ability to attend class. Please see Attendance as an Accommodation for more information.

I have a student with a disability in my class who is receiving accommodations but is doing poorly and at this point, and is not passing the class. Do I have a right to fail a student with a disability?

A student with a disability has the same opportunity to fail as anyone else. Their work should be equivalent to that of their peers. They must attend class, meet all deadlines and complete the required course components unless otherwise specified in their Letter for Instructors prepared by DS. Discuss your concerns about the student’s performance with the student just as you would with anyone else in your class who is experiencing difficulty.

What if my exam is scheduled during the evening and a student with a disability needs accommodation?

It depends on the student’s approved accommodations, your thoughts regarding exam security, and what time the rest of the class starts the exam. You may be able to accommodate the student yourself. Please contact the exam coordinator to discuss your situation.
Please see the Instructors Exams for more information

How does Disability Access Services protect exam security?

Exams are coordinated and invigilated by Assessment and Exam Invigilation Services (AEIS). Before an exam, the invigilators will lock any personal items not required for the exam (backpacks, purses, cell phones, electronics, etc.) in a cupboard. They may also ask students to show us the contents of pockets, hoods, or pencil cases. If a student is approved to use a computer as an accommodation, they use an account that blocks internet. When a student has back-to-back courses, the Exam Coordinator may slightly adjust an exam start time if the student's "extra time" accommodation would otherwise interfere with their next class. In these cases, maximum overlap with the class is maintained. If the student ends up finishing an exam before the rest of the class starts, the invigilators would have the student remain in the exam area with no access to phone/internet until the class exam start time.

What do I do if a student requests an accommodation that was not listed on their “Letter for Instructor?”

The student should be referred back to Disability Access Services. Giving an accommodation that has not been approved could set a precedent and/or lower academic standards. It may also go beyond leveling the playing field by providing an advantage over other students. Therefore, it is best to have the request reviewed by Disability Access Services.

What is assistive technology?

Assistive technology (often abbreviated as AT) is any item, piece of equipment, software or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. This may include screen readers, speech to text or a variety of other technology for assisting individuals learning.
Student registered with DS may have access to assistive technology through Assistive Technology of BC
The Accessibility Stations in the VIU Library have some AT available for all students and staff.

I have heard about students who need accessible text. Is there something I can do to help support these students?

Yes. Accessible text is dependent on the format you use when you upload documents to D2L. Some PDF documents are not readable on screen readers. Visit our UDL page for speech to text friendly documents and other tips for accessibility.

Who should I contact if I have further questions about accommodations?

Disability Access Services. Email: disabilityservices@viu.ca or 250-740-6446

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