Information for Faculty & Instructors

Information for Faculty & Instructors

Did you know:

Okanagan College, as a public post-secondary institution, has a legal responsibility to accommodate students with disabilities in accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and our BC Human Rights Code.

The Accessibility Services Department works cooperatively with all employees of Okanagan College in our efforts to remove barriers and provide opportunities for students with documented disabilities to access services, programs and facilities, and to be welcomed as participating members of the college community.

Accommodations are:

  • determined and facilitated through Accessibility Services.
  • based on a student's current medical documentation, consultation with other professionals in the field, and dialogue with the student.
  • an institutional responsibility.

Accommodations should not:

  • lower academic standards.
  • change essential course or program outcomes.

All information about a student that an instructor receives from Accessibility Services is confidential and should not be shared or discussed with anyone other than the student, the Accessibility Services Coordinator, or individuals for whom the student may have signed a Third Party Consent for Release of Information.

Specific information about a student's disability will not be disclosed, only information about their accommodations.

For more information please refer to the Guide to Understanding Accommodations.

FAQ about:

Accommodation Letters

Whose responsibility is it to ensure the instructor knows about the accommodation plan?

It is the student's responsibility to contact their Accessibility Services Coordinator to indicate they are registered for classes and would like an accommodation letter sent out to their instructors.

When are accommodation letters sent to instructors?

Although most letters are e-mailed to instructors near the beginning of the semester, accommodation letters can go out at any time (For example, a student may have decided to contact Accessibility Services after classes have started or may have just received their documentation).

Will all accommodations be relevant to the student's needs?

Yes. Students must provide the Accessibility Services Coordinator with current medical documentation, produced within the past five years. This documentation must be completed by a specialist and identify appropriate accommodations, given the student's challenges.

Are all of the accommodations a student receives identified in the accommodation letter?

The accommodation letter will consist of accommodations that instructors should be aware of, however, the student may not use all identified accommodations for all classes (For example,preferential seating in a distance education course).

Do instructors have to implement accommodations not found in the student's accommodation letter?

No. Students are made aware of the differences between high school and college when they meet with their Accessibility Services Coordinator, however some students may still make requests for accommodations that are not applicable to the post-secondary environment, such as a teaching assistant, to use notes on an exam, take an open book test, or receive unlimited absences. If a student is requesting accommodations other than the ones listed in the accommodation letter, instructors should contact the Accessibility Services Coordinator.

If a student does not ask to use their accommodations, am I still obligated to provide them?

No, it is up to the student to decide when they want to use their accommodations. For example, it is the student who initiates an accommodated exam, and if they choose not to, the instructor is not obligated to start that process.

Can the student start using their accommodations at a later time?

Yes, a student may begin using their accommodations later in the semester for various reasons, but ultimately, it is up to the student to initiate the process.

If an instructor has questions about the accommodation letter or is concerned about the application of accommodations what should they do?

Instructors should contact the Accessibility Services Coordinator at their campus.

"Duty to Accommodate"

What is the Duty to Accommodate?

Quoting from our Canadian Human Rights Act:

"all individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have, and to have their needs accommodated, consistent with their duties and obligations as members of society, without being hindered in or prevented from doing so by discriminatory practices based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age,sex,sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted."

Therefore,"Duty to Accommodate" refers to the legal obligation Okanagan College has, as a public post-secondary institution, to accommodate students with disabilities should they request accommodations and provide us with their current medical documentation supporting this request.

What are the consequences if Okanagan College does not make every effort to provide reasonable accommodations for a student who has requested services?

Should Okanagan College fail to provide reasonable accommodations fora student with a disability, and is unable to prove undue hardship, the college, including any employees working directly with that student, could be found under the Canadian Human Rights Act to have discriminated.

What is a reasonable accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is one that removes barriers or makes changes in order to provide a student with a disability an equal opportunity to participate in a course or a program, but does not create an undue hardship for Okanagan College.

What would be considered an undue hardship?

Factors that may amount to undue hardship for a post-secondary institution include:

  1. Financial cost that hurts the viability of the service, program or institution. To be considered an undue hardship, the financial cost of an accommodation must amount to a substantial part of the institution's overall budget. The larger the institution, the less likely it is that the financial cost of accommodation will amount to undue hardship. The financial cost of individual accommodation rarely reaches the point of undue hardship.

  2. Students cannot meet the requirements for entering or completing a program. The institution will have to demonstrate that the requirements and standards are necessary for entering or completing a program.

  3. Significant interference with the rights of other students. The institution will have to demonstrate that the accommodation would result in essential elements of a service or a program not being offered to other students as a result of accommodating an individual or group of students.

  4. Health and safety concerns for the student being accommodated or for other students or service providers. The institution will not only have to reliably identify and measure the risks to health and safety, but also determine who bears the risk.Risk that is limited to the person being accommodated often does not amount to an undue hardship, whereas risk to other persons may. Safety and health risks that contravene legally required occupational health and safety and workers'compensation requirements may be considered an undue hardship.

Info on undue hardship was taken from the Alberta Human Rights Commission Website.

Instructor's Responsibilities

Upon receipt of an accommodation letter, please make every effort to work cooperatively with the Accessibility Services Coordinator to meet the access needs of your student and to ensure that confidentiality is not breached.

The Accessibility Services Coordinator and / or your student may require your assistance with the following:

  • Completing the instructor portion of a Test Accommodation Form, in a timely manner.
  • Helping to identify possible note takers.
  • Providing copies of your PowerPoints, if needed.
  • Recommending possible subject area tutors.
  • Allowing the use of approved technology (ie. Digital recorder, laptop) in your classroom.

Instructor's Rights       

  • Maintain the academic standards set at Okanagan College
  • Consult with an Accessibility Service Coordinator regarding concerns about accommodations
  • Expect all students to follow the College’s published Code of Conduct Provide an accommodation, unless academic adjustment are inappropriate or unreasonable because they may:
    • pose a threat to the health and safety of others
    • constitute a change or alteration to an essential element of a course or program

 If you have any concerns regarding a student's accommodations, contact the Accessibility Services Coordinator at your campus.

Classroom Accommodations

What is the instructor's responsibility when a student requires a note taker?

Instructors may be asked to assist with recruiting note takers for a student. This could be another student in your classroom who would be willing to share copies of their notes with the student needing this assistance.

What are the parameters regarding confidentiality when using a digital recorder in the classroom?

If a recording device is required as part of the accommodation for a student, the student is aware that use of the recorded information is solely for supporting their learning needs. Students are asked to sign an Audio Recorder Agreement Form. Recording Device-Student Acknowledgement Form

What is an FM System and what is the instructor's responsibility when a student requires an FM System?

FM systems are an auditory system which amplifies the sound of a speaker's voice. Instructors may be asked to wear a small microphone which directs the sound to the student's receiver.

How does a time extension for assignments work?

Students may utilize time extensions for assignments. It is the responsibility of the student to approach the instructor to discuss a suitable alternate deadline.

Are there any guidelines for instructors on how to address behavioural issues in the classroom?

All students of Okanagan College are expected to adhere to the Student Conduct Policy.

Test Accommodations

What is the instructor's responsibility with respect to test accommodations?

If a student wishes to use accommodations for an exam, they are responsible for initiating the completion of the Online Test Accommodation Form. Instructors are only responsible for completing the Instructor Portion of the form, and providing a copy of their exam at least 24 hours or 1 business day in advance of the exam time.

Accessibility Services has an online test accommodation request system.  See the attachment for the instructor steps for A.S. online test accommodation form.