Understanding

What Do Accommodations Do?

Accommodations are classroom and exam modifications that students arrange each term through the Centre for Accessible Learning. These accommodations:

  • Help create equal educational access by offsetting the specific challenges posed by a disability in a particular course or program
  • Ensure that all students receive equitable treatment in meeting their course and program requirements
  • Enable students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills without fundamentally altering the core requirements of their course, or detracting from their responsibility to achieve individual results consistent with their academic requirements and objectives
  • Are determined by a CAL Disability Access Advisor and must be supported by the student’s disability documentation
  • Are available to students registered with the CAL and attending courses at any of SFU’s three campuses

What Don't Accommodations Do?

Accommodations do not affect the standards used to assign grades or the requirement that students independently demonstrate their knowledge of course material. Accommodations do not compromise the security, validity or reliability of a course or exam, nor provide an unfair advantage to the student with a disability.

Ensuring Accommodations are 'Reasonable'

‘Reasonable Academic Accommodation’ is a term used in the SFU Access Policy for Students with Disabilities to describe the type of accommodations that are granted by the Centre for Accessible Learning. SFU is responsible for providing all reasonable academic accommodations at no cost to qualified students registered with the CAL.

For accommodations to be considered ‘reasonable,’ they must:

  • Be based on documented individual disability needs;
  • Not provide an unfair advantage to the student;
  • Allow the most integrated experience possible;
  • Not compromise the essential requirements or security of a course or program; 
  • Not impose an undue burden on the institution; and
  • Not pose a threat to personal or public safety.

How Accommodations are Determined

Academic accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis. Students are responsible for initiating contact with the Centre for Accessible Learning and scheduling an appointment with a Disability Access Advisor to review their individual needs, their academic requirements that particular semester, and their professional disability documentation. The accommodations authorized by the Centre for Accessible Learning are based on many factors, including:

  • The accepted implications of the disability for various academic activities (based on an appreciation of the disability, the documentation, etc.)
  • The requirements of the student’s courses and program of study
  • The student’s history of using accommodations and other methods of coping
  • Consultation with a Disability Access Advisor and a needs assessment

A professionally verified disability means a condition certified by an appropriate professional (e.g., licensed physician, psychologist, audiologist, speech pathologist, learning disability specialist or other appropriate professional). A Disabilit Access Advisor reviews the documentation for completeness, the severity of the disability and the expected impact(s) it will have on the student’s access to equal educational opportunities. He or she then determines the kind of accommodations the student needs for the current semester.

Examples of Accommodations and Services

Accommodations/services available to eligible SFU students registered with the Centre for Accessible Learning may include (but are not limited to):

Class Accommodations

  • The use of assistive listening devices such as an FM or Infrared system
  • Priority seating
  • Opportunity to audio record lectures
  • Aid in class, such as a sign-language interpreter, attendant, or Communication Access Realtime Transcription (CART) captionist
  • Note-taking assistance (e.g., use of a SmartPen or access to notes)
  • Written material (overheads or notes) provided in advance
  • Textbooks or reference articles as audio or in other alternate formats, such as larger type, PDF format, or E-Text

Exam Accommodations

  • Extra time for exams
  • No penalty for breaks during exam
  • Assistance of a reader or a scribe
  • Allowance made for spelling or grammatical errors
  • Environment with reduced distraction - writing an exam in a separate room
  • Use of a dictionary or calculator
  • Use of a computer for essay exams

Other Services

  • New student orientation
  • Access to adaptive stations in the library equipped with computers and software
  • Academic, career and developmental advising and/or referral
  • Assistance with compensatory learning strategies
  • Parking for persons with disabilities
  • Assistance in making a class physically accessible for student with mobility impairments