Utilizing Accommodations FAQs
What if a student needs additional medical support during their period of study at the University?
As a student, you are responsible for securing the personal healthcare or medical services that you require. CAL staff can help you locate such individuals and/or provide referrals to local medical professionals. We encourage students with disabilities to work closely with their existing healthcare providers to ensure a smooth transition to university. SFU students can also see qualified medical professionals at SFU Health and Counselling Services.
How do I inform my instructors that I need an academic accommodation?
Upon being recommended for an accommodation, the Disability Access Advisor will prepare a Letter of Accommodation, which verifies that you have a disability and are registered with the CAL, and describes what types of accommodations you are eligible for. This letter is sent electronically to your instructor. You are not required to to meet with your instructors regarding your accommodations, however there may be benefits to doing so. Discussing your accommodations with your instructors provides an opportunity to confirm your specific needs and make any necessary arrangements. If you choose to meet with your instructor(s), it is recommended that you do so during his or her office hours, not before or after class, because this will provide greater confidentiality and allow more time for discussion.
What if an instructor has concerns about an accommodation recommended on my Letter of Accommodation?
It is possible for an instructor to refuse a classroom or exam accommodation, even if it is recommended by the CAL, usually because the instructor feels it may cause fundamental alterations to their course’s core requirements or pose undue administrative burden. If this occurs, the instructor should be encouraged to review the issue with the CAL. It may be possible that the instructor can suggest an alternative arrangement/accommodation that meets all parties’ needs. You do not have to engage in this process alone. Should you wish assistance a Learning Specialist can act as a mediator between you and your instructor in helping find an appropriate alternative.
What are my responsibilities as a student in the accommodation process?
The responsibility for securing academic accommodations rests with you. You are responsible for:
- Bringing the request for accommodations to the attention of CAL in a timely manner — before the start of the term wherever possible (there may be exceptions if the disability is diagnosed mid-term)
- Providing documentation that verifies your disability and conforms to our documentation guidelines
- Understanding that accommodations are needs-based, determined on a case-by-case basis and are directly related to the documentation of disability and the impact of that disability in the specific learning situation. There must be a clear rationale for each accommodation requested
- Meeting with a Disability Access Advisor prior to the start of the term to determine recommended accommodations
- Making the necessary arrangements to have exams proctored by the CAL, by submitting online exam requests according to the published deadlines (at least one week midterm exams and two weeks before the start of the finals exam period)
- Notifying the CAL if accommodations are not in place or not effective, or if they are no longer required
What are the responsibilities of the CAL in the accommodation process?
- Request and review documentation relating to a student’s disability
- Determine appropriate accommodations as supported by the submitted documentation and in collaboration with the student and the relevant faculty
- Deny accommodations that are not supported by the documentation or by the needs assessment. If evidence of a significant impact is not present, accommodations may not be warranted.
- Support faculty members around providing accommodations as needed
- Provide services, such as alternate text formats, to students whose documentation supports the need for it
The CAL takes the responsibility of determining reasonable academic accommodations very seriously. Consequently, all accommodations approved by CAL must be supported by documentation on file.