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Implementing Academic Accommodations

A guide for course instructors/departments/schools on implementing common academic accommodations in post secondary

Applied / Work Integrated Learning Accommodations

Applied learning and skill development

  • Programs supporting an emphasis on skill development offer Co-operative education programs, field placements, practicums, placements, clinical, etc. as part of the curriculum.
  • The College's obligation to the student is as an educator first. As education is deemed a service under human rights legislation, even when students are participating in off-campus training they are generally entitled to the same type of accommodations as they would be in the classroom.
  • As the employer has generously agreed to participate in this educational process, so the placement is obligated to allow the accommodation provided it does not interfere with meeting an essential course requirement.
  • The school should be working with the placement to identify the essential requirements related both to the field-required tasks as well as the placement's structure.
    • For example, practicums that require students to work full-time hours, every day, for several weeks may be a significant challenge for some students with disabilities with, for example, a chronic health disability.
  • Knowing that these requirements often reflect a college's programming need rather than professional practice obligations, be prepared to re-examine aspects of the professional program in order to identify the essential requirements and reach out to the regulator to verify if a requirement is considered essential.
Do: Don't:
  • Structure applied elements within the curriculum whenever possible, through which accommodations can be explored that may be feasible in the "real world" and identify with some evidence where accommodation might not be appropriate
  • Compare performance expectations from the "real-world" and refuse accommodation in the program based on assumptions about students and subsequent employment settings

A very helpful resource for considering clinical / applied education accommodations is a video by Dr. Barbara Roberts, M.S., OT. Ph.D. Michigan State University,Clinical Accommodations Decision-Making Framework Webinar, 2016.

Comparisons to Real World

Faculty and administrators may be concerned that the accommodations provided in the educational setting will not be available to a student after graduation, and, that they are setting up students to fail once they encounter the "real world" of the workplace. However, accommodations are also available in the workplace, and are determined in a manner similar to accommodations in the academic/applied learning settings. The abundance of professional associations for individuals with disabilities in, for example, the health sciences attests to the ability of those with disabilities to do the work and the willingness of health care facilities to hire them. It is critical that decisions about accommodations and technical standards are grounded in the reality of the current world of work, and not on historical assumptions. Often, it turns out that a requirement is in place solely because it has traditionally been done that way, and when opened up for discussion, the parties come to realize that the same skill could be acquired by another method.

It is worth remembering your students:

  • may or may not choose to practice in their field
  • may self-select into accessible or accommodated settings
  • may find employment where accommodation is in fact provided as mandated

Higher Degree of Collaboration

Assigning specific accommodations for classroom-based environments is straightforward as the task requirements and environmental variables are well known.

The requirements and variables involved in applied learning experiences are more difficult to anticipate by CAL Instructors who write the letters of academic accommodation (the Faculty Notifications) for students. A higher degree of collaboration is required between the program (and placement partner if applicable) and the student—and with consultation where necessary with the CAL Instructors—to tailor specific accommodations to those environments.

As experiences and task requirements in these environments change, accommodations may have to evolve.

Applied Learning Academic Accommodation Workflow Considerations