Legal and Policy Background
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees:
- “[Every] individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination …”
- The Charter is responsible for making Canada more accessible. The Ontario Human Rights Act strengthened the foundation of the Charter by legislating duty that ensures legal responsibility provincially.
Ontario Human Rights Commission’s ‘Policy and Guidelines on Disabilities and the Duty to Accommodate’ (2001) states:
- “...education providers have a duty to accommodate the needs of students with disabilities, unless to do so would cause undue hardship… Accommodation is a means of preventing and removing barriers that impede students with disabilities from participating fully in the educational environment. ”
Full copies of these polices are available at Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
It is expected that any person working with students within Student Accessibility Services will respect the strictest confidentiality in regards to any information obtained from, by, or about the student.
Any information and/or documentation shared by a student with Student Accessibility Services is confidential and can only be made available to other departments, faculty, or staff if the student provides specific written consent. A student who consents to the release of information must specify who can receive the information and what information can be disclosed.
Please note that the student does not need to notify the professor about specific details pertaining to their disability.
Letter of Accommodation
The Letter of Accommodation might be the basis for your initial communication with a student with a disability in your class. This letter is issued to the student by the Accessibility Consultant and is typically delivered to the professor either through email by the Accessibility Consultant or in person by the student during the first few weeks of each term. If the student is uncomfortable giving the professor the letter in the class, the student may request an appointment in which to deliver the letter.
The Letter of Accommodation is a summary of the recommended academic accommodations the student might be accessing in order to participate in lectures, complete course work, and/or write tests and exams. Although the majority of classroom and testing support will be arranged and provided through Student Accessibility Services, we want the professor to be aware of this support and we need the professor’s cooperation.
For example, supports such as providing your class textbooks in alternate format to a student with a reading disability will be arranged through Student Accessibility Services; however, if you have an in-class reading assignment, you may need to provide this reading in a format accessible to the student. Either the student or Student Accessibility Services can help you if you are unsure what the student might need and how to provide the accommodation listed in the letter.
Please remember the Letter of Accommodation is a confidential, disability-related document, and the professor has a responsibility to keep this document secure and the information within it confidential.
Student Accessibility Services will administer any in person accommodated testing that is required and scheduled by the student. You may send a copy of your quiz, test or midterm at any time, but an automatic notification will be sent from Student Accessibility Services 4 days prior to the schedule date requesting a copy of the quiz, test or midterm. This email will also indicate which students have requested the accommodations.
Please take the time to carefully read the information sent in the e-mail and inform the Student Accessibility Officers (SAOs) if the information is incorrect (wrong date, time, etc.)
Once the test is complete the Student Accessibility Officers will send you an e-mail reminder informing you that the test is ready to be picked-up from Student Accessibility Services. It will remain in a locked cabinet until you pick it up. Pick-up is available in B210.
For final exams, you will not be required to provide Student Accessibility Services with a copy of the exam. The Student Accessibility Officers receive all final examinations from Print Plus.
Student Accessibility Services asks that you visit your student(s) once during the first hour of the examination to answer any questions or concerns they may have. You will receive a slip of paper with your exam package indicating the location of each of your students that are writing with Student Accessibility Services.
Faculty is responsible for providing additional time except for Final Exams using LockDown Browser, which is coordinated by SAS.
Click on this Blackboard-Setting up exceptions video for instructions or contact the Learning Systems Technologist for your faculty for assistance.
Devices including fidgets, calculators, medical monitors…
During the pre-test scan, students will show the object to the camera and state out loud it will be used as per accommodations. We have recommended that they “check in” verbally if needing to use a medical device.
If the use of a calculator as an accommodation should be restricted in your course, please contact the student’s Accessibility Consultant.
During the pre-test scan, students will show the calculator to the camera and state out loud that it will be used as an accommodation.
Memory Aids/Cue Sheets
Memory Aids MUST be pre-approved by the instructor as per the SAS policy.
During the pre-test scan, students must show the approved memory aid to the camera and state out loud that it may be used as an accommodation.
Noise Cancelling Headphones
SAS cannot verify what students are listening to when using headphones.
SAS recommends earplugs instead, which are readily available at most pharmacies.
White Noise/Background Music
As headphones are not required for this accommodations, SAS recommends the use of an external device for sound.
During the pre-test scan, students will show the phone or device to the camera and state out loud that they will be listening to music/noise as per their approved accommodations.
They will then very clearly place this device away from the computer, preferably within the camera’s view and PRESS PLAY.
SAS has suggested they ensure there is no reason to go to the device and that they turn off all sounds and notifications.
Noise Cancelling Headphones with music, background noise or Adaptive Technology
During the pre-test scan, students must show the headphones to the camera and state out loud that they are being used as per their accommodations.
Spell and Grammar Check
Whereas Respondus LockDown Browser has a built-in spell-check; there is no built-in grammar check.
We ask that you consider the “grammar-check” accommodation in assessing the student’s written answers.
Respondus LockDown Browser
The only available text-to-speech function in LockDown Browser is TextAid.
Faculty are responsible for making TextAid available to all courses using LockDown Browser. Full instructions on what to do can be found in the Secure Testing Link provided in the Teaching Hub YouTube channel.
Students will be provided full instructions.
All other assessments
Students may use the Text-To-Speech software of their choice other than TextAid, which is not available outside LDB.
Voice to Text
Voice-To-Text function is available in LDB and SAS students will be provided the necessary tools and instructions.
Medical Accommodations and Medical Emergencies
For students that have a medical condition that requires access food, medicine or a device OR may require they leave the testing room:
Students will clearly explain the situation to the camera and proceed accordingly.
Students have been asked to stay within the camera’s view.
If requested by the student, SAS will make arrangements to provide a Scribe/Reader or Interpreter.
For students who have “Scrap paper” as an accommodation:
During the pre-test scan, the student will state out loud that they will use scrap paper and show both sides of the BLANK pages to the camera.
Breaks and Washroom
When using a rest, pain or washroom break, the student will state out loud that they will be doing as per their accommodations.
Students have been asked to stay within the camera’s view, when possible.
Handouts Enlarged or on Coloured Paper
These may be recommended classroom accommodations for students with low vision and/or visual processing deficits.
- An 8.5x11 handout enlarged to 11x17 will quite often be enough to serve a student with low vision, and this is a technique we often use with tests and exams in our office.
- Also, if you provide students with an electronic text version of your handout, they may be able to increase the font size themselves using their computer technology.
- When SAS puts in place “coloured paper” as an accommodation, we will typically recommend a colour of paper for you to use, typically blue, beige or green coloured stock, all of which are available through Print Plus.
Students with physical disabilities, medical disabilities and/or temporary injuries may require the use of ergonomic chairs in the classroom. These chairs will be placed in your room by Student Accessibility Services, along with a sign reserving the chair for the student. The chair is often placed in an accessible area of the classroom, which is dependent on the students’ needs. Student Accessibility Services will remove the chair at the end of the term.
Notes in Advance
Access to notes/presentations in advance enables students to obtain materials that promote essential learning behaviours like preparing for class and note-taking. Providing materials in advance is proven to be a good teaching practice and an element of universal design for learning.
At the discretion of the professor, materials may be available on a week-by-week basis prior to a class, or all materials may be provided at the start of a course.
SAS understands that some instructors do not like posting their presentations in advance for fear it may deter students from attending class. If this is the case, please consider emailing the presentation in advance of class to the specific students requesting this accommodation.
A number of the barriers created by various disabilities can be accommodated by the use of a laptop or tablet on which to take lecture notes:
- Students with grapho-motor disabilities may find they can type faster than they can handwrite and that they can read their notes that they type much better than their poor handwriting.
- Similarly many students with poor working memory can benefit from typing as they can take down more information before it is lost from consciousness.
- Students with low vision or who are blind are often taught from a young age to type as they can create a set of notes that can be reviewed with the use of a text reading program.
- Students also find that it is much easier to add to and amend their notes with a computer to ensure that they have an accurate and complete set of notes from which to study.
It is true that time and again research seems to validate that handwriting notes is a more powerful cognitive learning strategy; however, for a number of students with disabilities who can effectively take their own notes on the computer, they will still benefit from actively engaging in the note taking process.
Please note, when this accommodation is recommended for students by their Accessibility Consultant, the students are cautioned to use their computers for note taking purposes only and to avoid distracting themselves and others with browsing the web or social media
"Captioning" is the conversion of audio to text format to be synchronously available within audio/video content. If you are planning to use audio/video content in your course, please remember it is your responsibility to ensure that all course material is accessible for your students. To get you started, below is some helpful information. If required, please reach out to the Teaching Hub for additional support, firstname.lastname@example.org
The function of this accommodation is to help students compensate for the time they may lose due to their disability-related symptoms while completing coursework. Providing extra time for assignments ensures that students with disabilities are not unfairly penalized for requiring additional time due to their disability-related symptoms.
Students must communicate the need for each disability-related extension with faculty and SAS. Requests for extensions may come from the student or from SAS on behalf of the student. SAS will only advocate for extensions that are directly related to a student's disability.
Students who are deaf or hearing impaired may require the use of an FM system: an assistive listening device that transmits speech picked up from a microphone on an FM radio frequency. The professor will be required to wear a tiny transmitter pack with microphone, while receivers are worn by the student so that they can hear the transmitted message.
Student Accessibility Services or the student will provide the FM system.
Recording Course Content
A student who is approved to record or access recordings of course content will have the accommodation listed on their Letter of Accommodation as “Content Capture by Alternate Means”. This accommodation is only granted to students when the appropriate supporting documentation has been provided to SAS.
Disability Related Absences
Punctual and regular attendance is essential for the successful completion of courses at Nipissing University. According to the Academic Policies and Regulations of the institution, absenteeism should not exceed 20% of classes, or the student may be excluded from writing the final examination.
Students with this accommodation have disabilities that are episodic in nature with random or cyclical acute episodes, and as a result, the disability may occasionally impact the student’s ability to attend class.
Students with this accommodation are required to speak with each of their professors to discuss this accommodation and to clarify the class attendance policy with regard to meeting course requirements. Students are also responsible for contacting the faculty member and Accessibility Consultant by email as soon as possible each time a disability-related absence will occur/has occurred and, as necessary, inform the faculty member when they will return to class
Note taking is a proven way to provide equal access to course content and to contribute to the success of students with disabilities.
How Faculty Can Help
Depending on what is available to all students in a course, there may be times when SAS students don’t need to request note taking support. In addition, there are courses in which finding someone to provide notes proves to be difficult. By making the following available, you help support all students:
- Access to lecture content or faculty notes in advance and/or after class. For example, if a PowerPoint presentation was used to guide the class
- Access to audio or video recordings of the class, for students to review or create a transcription or take notes at their own pace
- Setting up Closed Captioning, by default, for all video content, as part of the obligation to making course content fully accessible
- Setting up automatic transcription of recordings, especially those that are in audio format only, such as podcast-style lectures
- Work with SAS to provide options such as the use of past notes for the course, in cases where a student’s learning would be seriously impacted by not receiving note taking support
- Direct students to the SAS website or B210, on BlackBoard, in class etc., to encourage them to become note sharers/takers and support their peers
Who is Eligible for Note Taking support?
A student’s Accessibility Consultant determines their eligibility for note taking support and the appropriate level of support, based upon consultation with the student and the recommendations provided in the student’s documentation.
There are two types of note taking supports available to eligible students
Peer Note Sharing: Most SAS students will have this listed on their Letter of Accommodation and would receive notes shared by their peers.
Professional Note Taking: In some cases, peers or external providers will be paid to provide notes for students for whom receiving notes must be guaranteed.
All SAS students are encouraged to take notes to the best of their ability to support their learning.
From time to time, SAS will reach out to faculty to discuss options for supporting students when notes are not available. These options may include access to professor notes, class recordings or using notes taken when a course was offered in the past.
What are the student's responsibilities for receiving notes?
Students approved to receive notes as an accommodation, like their peers, are expected, to the best of their abilities, to fully participate in their learning, attend classes and submit course work as expected.
In addition, these students must meet with SAS to review and sign the “Student Accessibility Services Student Responsibilities for Note Taking Services” agreement. The following represent some key terms of understanding:
- Note taking does NOT replace attendance. Chronic, non-disability related absences may lead to termination of note taking services for the academic year.
- Notes provided as disability-related support are NOT to be shared and doing so constitutes an act of academic dishonesty that could result in the termination of all note taking services and a review of the student’s future eligibility to receive notes.
- Recordings of classes as part of an accommodation plan, are to be used for personal study only and for no other purposes.
- The information contained in the recordings is protected under federal and international copyright legislation and may not be shared, published or quoted without the lecturer’s explicit consent. If consent is granted, the lecturer will be identified and credited.
- Violating these restrictions is considered an infraction under Nipissing University’s Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities and the appropriate disciplinary actions will be considered.
To view a full copy of the most recent agreement, please contact SAS at: email@example.com
Notes will be provided to students who may miss a class for disability-related reasons and students who may need to be absent for unexpected reasons are not penalized.
Please note that neither the note sharer/taker or SAS can keep track of their attendance. Should you have any questions or concerns about a student’s absenteeism, please speak with the student’s Accessibility Consultant as soon as possible.
About our Note Sharers and Note Takers
Student Accessibility Services recruits, trains, and supervises note sharers and note takers. Note sharers/takers undergo training to ensure quality notes and support is provided to our students. Students who receive note taking support are to report any concerns to the Student Accessibility Officers
A note sharer/taker is almost always a student registered in the course, though it may be in a different section than the student requiring notes. This peer participates in the class and related discussions as usual.
Rarely, the person providing notes will be paid to attend class in a course in which they are not a student. In this case, the note taker will introduce themselves to faculty and take notes but not participate in class discussions or activities.
Content Captured by Alternate Means
Based on a student’s official documentation, the Accessibility Consultant may include the following accommodation on the student’s Letter of Accommodation:
Content Capture by Alternate Means (NTE, Transcription, Audio Recording, Smart Pen)
Note Taking Express by Habitat Learn (NTE)
If a student is eligible, they may be assigned a Note Taking Express (NTE) account. NTE is a platform used to upload recorded content and then download notes provided by an external note taker based on the recordings.
Note Taking Express was chosen after collaboration with and approval from faculty Deans. The Student Accessibility Services Student Responsibilities for Note Taking Services agreement, signed by all students receiving notes as an accommodation, emphasizes the copyright and privacy implications of using class recordings.