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Implementing Academic Accommodations

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

Lab / Studio / Shops and Other Practical Settings Accommodations

Some applied or practical learning tasks/environments are universally-designed compared to traditional individually written, timed exams. Here are some examples of differences.

Labs / Studio /Shops or other applied learning:

  • Working with partner(s) who can share the work.
  • Instructors/assistants provide real-time supervision and support/assistance/feedback.
  • Practical components with instrumentation/tools/equipment mixed with some reading and writing.
  • Variable environments where students can take breaks, step out to eat something, use the washroom, etc. if they need.
  • Well prepared students typically complete in less than the maximal available time leaving enough time for most to finish without accommodation.
  • Less anxiety-provoking.


  • Working alone without the support of anyone, having to do all components oneself.
  • Exam invigilator provides supervision but very little assistance.
  • Mostly only reading and writing answers.
  • Secure, inflexible environment (students must sit and attend to the exam throughout)
  • Strictly timed and majority of students take the entire time to complete
  • Naturally anxiety-provoking.
  • Time accommodations in exams are typically provided to reduce barriers in cognitive, reading or writing fluency, and stamina (or need to take a break to deal with chronic medical issue). Barriers in these areas are magnified in an exam due to the heavy processing load required by reading/writing and memory recall. Extra time re-distributes that load.

Why do some students have an extra time for Labs / Studio / Shops or other applied learning task accommodation?

Extra time to complete components of these may be needed to reduce barriers in writing or reading fluency, fine or gross motor coordination for completing specific tasks, etc. For example, extra time may address barriers to reading or writing tasks and the student may need to use a computer with assistive technology software to complete the written portions (i.e. to enlarge or read aloud text for a student with low vision).

Things to Do and Consider

Determine and discuss completion time with your students who have this accommodation where the applied learning task is required to be completed in a specific time period (i.e. within 3 hours).

Where a write-up-only portion of a task (i.e. a lab write-up) could be completed at the CAL exam centre with extra time and invigilation, consider that the student could book a seat through the CAL Exam booking form procedures with at least two weeks advance notice like any other booking. The course instructor would then provide with the write-up details like any test or exam.

Invigilation Within the Applied Learning Environment

Can CAL send staff to invigilate within a lab, studio or shop environment because specific curricular materials will be needed for completion?

´╗┐When an exam requires instrumentation/samples/tools or other equipment that cannot be provided in the CAL environment, departments provide the exam invigilation directly by their staff who are trained to work within those environments and with knowledge of the materials/safety protocols, etc. or if expert knowledge is not required, a CAL invigilator may be requested by the department with sufficient (two weeks) notice.