Contact us

Our office hours are 9 am to 4 pm,
Monday to Friday

Centre for Accessible Learning (CAL)
1250 Maggie Benston Centre
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby BC V5A 1S6
Phone: 778.782.3112
Secure Fax: 778.782.4384

Visit our Accessibility Information Page to find detailed information about our office and its accessibility considerations.


Why do students with disabilities often need exam accommodations?

Exam accommodations are designed to give the student equal access to the assessment and evaluation methods of the course. Exam accommodations are specifically structured so that they do not alter the content or core requirements of the exam, but rather alter the administration of the exam. The intention of exam accommodations is to remove barriers that traditional administration processes present to the student due to their documented disability-related needs.

How do students become eligible for exam accommodations?

Exam accommodations are determined the same way as other accommodations, dependent on professional documentation which shows the specific ways in which their disability limits exam-taking, as well as an interview with the student regarding their history of accommodation needs, etc. The university provides accommodations to negate the effect of the disability on the examination process and even the playing field for the student. The accommodations must not alter any essential feature of the curriculum.

What exam accommodations are available to eligible students with disabilities who have registered with the CAL?

Exam accommodations can include, but are not limited to:

  • extended time (e.g., time and a half)
  • writing in a low-distraction environment
  • use of a calculator or dictionary
  • access to a reader, writer, interpreter, computer or adaptive equipment (screen reader, voice output, CCTV)
  • alternate exam format (e.g., large print, e-text)
  • breaks

How can I accommodate extended exam time for a CAL registered student when I have to teach another class or am otherwise unavailable?

Instructors are generally not expected to administer accommodated exams, except in the case of practical lab exams.  Accommodated exams are administered at the CAL exam facility, which is located in the Maggie Benston Centre at the Burnaby campus.

It is the student's responsibility to schedule to write any exams at the CAL using the Centre's online exam booking system.  If you do not receive email notification from the CAL of the student's exam request, it can be assumed that the student has elected to write the test with the class and without accommodations. 

In order for the CAL to make arrangements for the exam to be proctored according to your requirements, you will be asked to indicate exam restrictions and allowances (e.g., no books or notes, but non-programmable calculators are permitted) through the instructor portal of the CSD's online exam booking system.  You will also be asked to provide information as to how the exam will be provided to the CAL, and how the finished exam will be returned.  

How can I be assured that students who take exams for my classes through the CAL are being monitored closely enough to prevent cheating?

The CAL takes all reasonable steps to ensure the integrity of the examination process. 

Students writing at the CAL are only allowed to take with them into the exam rooms the materials specifically indicated by you in the online exam booking system. Students are informed on several occasions, both during registration, via email prior to the start of the exam period, and in person before the exams, regarding contraband. If requested by you, or if part of a student's accommodations, an exam booklet may be provided during an exam for use as scrap paper on which to write notes or work out problems. All papers used in the exam room are returned to the instructor. 

Exams are administered in private and small group rooms located adjacent to the CAL main office.  CAL staff and trained graduate student invigilators monitor students in order to minimize threats to the integrity of the exam.  This includes not only observing the student frequently throughout the exam period, but may also include entering the room and reviewing the materials on the student’s desk. In addition to the presence of invigilators, the majority of rooms are outfitted with closed circuit video cameras, which allow an additional level of monitoring by staff. 

If a student is suspected of cheating, the CAL takes action to inform you of the potential violation.  In all cases, the CAL attempts to take actions which leave the instructor in the position of determining whether or not a violation occurred and how this will be responded to.  Complete information on the processes and policies that ensure academic integrity during exam writing with the CAL can be found on the Exam section of this website. 

How is an exam delivered to the CAL office? How does it get returned to me after the student has finished writing?

Faculty are responsible for delivering exams to our office. This can be done through either digital upload to the secure exam booking system, or delivery in person by the faculty member or an assistant.  In order to ensure that the exam process proceeds in an efficient manner we require copies of exams to be made available to the CAL at the faculty member's earliest convenience, but no later than 1 working day before the day of the exam. If you are aware that the exam format will require conversion in order for the student to access the materials (as may be the case for students with low vision, those that use reading software, etc), please ensure that the exam is provided to the CAL at least 1 week in advance of the start of the exam. 

For midterm exams there are two options available to faculty:

1) the faculty member or his/her agent can retrieve the exam from the CAL.  If you require that the exam be picked up as early as possible, arrangements can be made to have the CAL inform you of the time of completion by the student and you or an assistant can pick up the completed exam at the CAL, or

2) the student can be assigned to return the completed exam to the Faculty member or appropriate department office in a sealed, signed envelope

For final exams, the same options exist; however, the CAL staff or its agents can return the sealed, completed exam to the appropriate departmental office on the Burnaby campus within 2 working days of completion of the exam.  Instructors who are based at the Vancouver and Surrey campuses can contact the Centre to discuss special exam return arrangements as necessary.

Except where exams are returned electronically, a signature of the receiving party on a Verification of Exam Receipt slip is required for all exam returns.  This slip will be filed at the CAL, allowing the Centre to track exams from the time they arrive at the CAL until they are returned to the instructor or departmental representative.