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Accommodations for Students with Disabilities Policy

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities Policy Information

Date Approved: May 15, 2023
Effective Date: May 15, 2023
Date Reviewed: February 2023
Replaces: 2018


The Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC) provides students with the right to reasonable academic accommodation in post-secondary education. Cambrian College (College) has a legal obligation to eliminate barriers to equal access for students with disabilities.1 Accordingly, the purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines for the provision of reasonable academic accommodations to students of the College.


Accommodations: An instructional or environmental change based on a student’s disability-related needs. Examples of accommodations include preferential seating in the classroom, extended time on tests, and assistive technology. The student is expected to learn the same material and complete the same assignments as other students, but the accommodations allow alternate ways to learn and respond. An accommodation seeks to provide accessibility in the classroom. Accommodations under this policy include but are not limited to:

  • Retroactive accommodations, which are accommodations applied in the present time that affect academic activities that have already taken place2
  • Temporary and Permanent disability accommodations

Disability: A term that covers a broad range and degree of conditions and may be permanent or temporary. Disability is defined in the OHRC as follows:

  • any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device,
  • a condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability,
  • a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language,
  • a mental disorder, or
  • an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997.

Functional limitations: A disability-related impediment that affects a student’s ability to function in the learning environment. Functional limitations often disadvantage a student academically and may require accommodations for the student to have equitable access to the curriculum.

Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD): The central location in a postsecondary institution where students with disabilities can request academic accommodations. At Cambrian, the OSD is the Glenn Crombie Center for Student Support (GCC), located on the main floor.

Regulated Health Care Professional: In Ontario, regulated health professions are governed under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA) and health professions Acts. This includes but is not limited to licensed physicians, licensed midwives, registered nurse practitioners, licensed dentists, and registered psychologists, physio, etc.

Undue hardship: Under the OHRC, every student with a disability is entitled to reasonable accommodation short of undue hardship to the College. Undue hardship is a standard that acts as a limit to the duty of accommodation; once this limit is reached, there is no longer a requirement to accommodate. The OHRC sets out three elements for consideration in assessing whether an accommodation would cause undue hardship: cost, outside sources of funding, if any, and health and safety requirements, if any.


This policy applies to all Cambrian College students with disabilities.

Policy Statements

An appropriate accommodation at the post-secondary level enables a student to meet the essential requirements of the program, with no alteration in standards or outcomes, although the way the student demonstrates mastery, knowledge and skills may be altered.

Because decisions regarding accommodation may affect the student’s progress in their program of study, the College endeavors to process these in a timely manner. In doing so, the College considers academic program structure (e.g., pre-requisites), and official timelines (e.g., semester registration dates, drop/add and withdrawal dates).

Students are required to cooperate in the accommodation process. This means that students are required to provide information upon request, and accept reasonable accommodations related to their disability-related needs (not preferences) that will assist them to meet their required learning outcomes.

  1. Accommodations are Based on a Student’s Functional Limitations not their Diagnosis
    Accommodations address a student’s identified functional limitations linked to an underlying disability. The type of information that the student seeking accommodation is expected to provide includes:

    1. Confirmation that the student has a medical condition that requires accommodations (however, there is no obligation for the student to disclose their diagnosis).
    2. The limitations or needs associated with the disability; and/or
    3. The type of accommodation(s) needed to allow the student to fulfill the essential duties of participating in an academic course or program.
  2. Accommodations Provided Without Supporting Documentation from a Regulated Health Care Professional.
    1. Students with developing mental health conditions, or who are waiting for medical documentation from their registered health care professionals, may request reasonable accommodations. Such students may seek academic accommodations without documentation of a diagnosed condition but must provide information from a physician that a diagnosis is under investigation.
    2. Pending the regulated health care professional’s assessment to identify individual needs and limitations of a student, Cambrian will use the best information available to make the accommodation decision or provides interim accommodations. The decision shall take into consideration how the student identifies their own needs, pending the assessment.
  3. Temporary Accommodations
    The College may provide temporary accommodations where appropriate. The College meaningfully considers all OHRC related requests for accommodation in relation to the individual’s unique circumstances. These accommodations are not limitless.
  4. Retroactive Accommodations
    The College accepts retroactive accommodation requests as made in good faith, unless there are legitimate reasons for acting otherwise. It examines each case on the unique circumstances and the student’s individual needs.

    Documentation from a Regulated Health Care Professional about functional limitations that affected academic performance is required to support the request. The College implements an accommodation only after it has made a final decision based on submission of the required medical documentation.

    Where a student has filed a concurrent or sequential request under the Student Appeals policy or Academic Integrity Policy, the College may pause those procedures pending the outcome of the student’s request for retroactive accommodations.

  5. Communication of Accommodation Needs to Faculty
    Students are not required to share disability related information with their professors to receive academic accommodations and it is not appropriate for faculty or staff outside the Glenn Crombie Center to request such information. The collection of accommodation related information about a student’s functional limitation(s) is the responsibility of the Glenn Crombie Center.
  6. Disability Education
    Cambrian is committed to supporting faculty members with assisting students requiring academic accommodations through the provision of disability education in two key areas:

    1. general disability awareness
    2. education and training, support and information on interacting with a student who appears to have a disability-related issue that is interfering with their studies
  7. Accommodation Process
    The College ensures a consistent process to guide accommodation decisions as follows:

    1. Student attends appointment with the Accessibility/Disability Advisor and brings in requested documentation.
    2. The College will consider the need for accommodations to assist the student in cooperating in the accommodations process.
    3. Student participates in the process to determine reasonable accommodations.
    4. Student decides if they or the Glenn Crombie Center share disability related information with their professors to receive academic accommodation.
    5. Students seeking a change in accommodations will do so through requesting an appointment with their Accessibility/Disability Advisor.

Responsibilities and Accountability

Students with Disabilities:

  • Cooperate in the accommodation process
  • Notify the Glenn Crombie Center about their need to request an accommodation as soon as the student becomes aware that they require academic accommodations. Ideally, the student will request accommodation before the need for accommodation arises. However, the College will consider all accommodation requests it receives.
  • Submit the required medical documentation forms, provided and/or requested by the Accessibility Advisor, to the Glenn Crombie Center in a timely manner. Note that students are not required to disclose the diagnosis of their disability to the College to receive academic accommodation.
  • Students are required to follow their academic responsibilities as per the ‘Students Rights and Responsibilities Policy’.
  • Make best efforts to understand and meet all administrative deadlines and obligations related to the academic program of study (i.e., enrolling in pre-requisite courses; meeting semester registration dates, drop/add and withdrawal dates, etc.).
  • Participate in meetings with faculty and the Accessibility Advisor, as may be required, to cooperatively determine and/or strategize the accommodation necessary to meet academic performance requirements.
  • Follow the guidelines for a Retroactive Accommodations Appeal in the event of a disagreement on the retroactive application of an accommodation.

Director, Glenn Crombie Center:

  • Facilitate policy and procedures and assist Deans/Chairs/ faculty with informal resolution of accommodations issues.
  • Consult with Deans/Chairs when departmental and/or financial resources are required.
  • Consult with students and accessibility services as required
  • Support student referrals for reasons related to a disability, perceived disability, and/or learning challenges
  • Discuss with students, accessibility services, or departmental/school concerns about suggested accommodations and/or how the accommodations relate to the essential requirements of the course/program.
  • Review, upon a student or faculty request, concerns with the recommended accommodations plan and assist in developing alternatives.
  • Review, upon student or Dean request, a faculty member decision to not provide accommodation.

Accessibility Advisor:

Accessibility advisors are case managers that provide information, support and advocacy for students who face physical, medical, sensory, mental health or learning barriers to education.
At the Glenn Crombie Center, Accessibility Advisors assist students in a variety of ways. Given that each student’s needs are unique, services and accommodations are established on an individual basis and based on the documentation of the student’s disability, limitations and/or impairments.


  • Refer to the Glenn Crombie Center:
    • Any student requesting disability-related accommodation.
    • Any student demonstrating behavioural or learning difficulties.
    • Any student that discloses a disability or disability-related need
  • Participate in the accommodation process, as required.
  • Provide the student with the approved accommodation outlined in the accommodation memo.
  • Complete grade-change form for accommodations or retroactive evaluations when applicable.
  • In consultation with the Dean, review and determine that the correct assessment has been identified in the retroactive accommodation’s memo.


  • Ensure faculty compliance with accommodations.
  • Refer students to the Glenn Crombie Center for reasons related to disability, learning challenges and/or perceived disabilities.
  • Participate in the appeal process for accommodations.
  • Consult with Director, Glenn Crombie Center on grade appeals from students with a disability.
  • Finalize grade-change forms resulting from retroactive accommodations.
  • In consultation with the faculty, review and determine that the correct assessment has been identified in the retroactive accommodation’s memo.


  • Consult with Director, Glenn Crombie Center on grade appeals from students with a disability.
  • Post grades from the finalized grade-change forms resulting from retroactive accommodations.

Students’ Administrative Council

  • Provide support, at the request of the student, by reviewing relevant policies and procedures with the student and attending meetings.

Related Procedures and Forms

Accommodation Process
Testing Accommodation Process
Extended timelines /Flexible Deadlines Procedure
Clinical/Field Placement Accommodations
Retroactive Accommodations
Competing Human Rights Process