Equitable Access Policy for Students with Disabilities

1. Purpose

Trinity Western University is committed to providing barrier free education in a manner consistent with academic standards. Given the dynamic academic and cultural environment we live in, good communication between parties must be a central part of the process therefore the process by which we achieve barrier free education is through ongoing dialogue.

The purpose of this policy is to outline procedures that allow for this dialogue and suggest solutions to access and/or accommodation issues, related to academically qualified students with appropriately documented disabilities.

The TWU Equity of Access Office, academic support and service departments on campus endeavor to eliminate systemic, structural, and attitudinal barriers towards disabilities, and to promote services for students with identified disabilities. Students with disabilities, instructors, and departments need to be able to identify accommodations that will assist students in accessing the campus living-learning environment.

2. Authority/Responsibility/Scope

At Trinity Western University, the responsibility to provide appropriate accommodations is decentralized. The Equity of Access office acts as the central contact point for any student with a disability but the provision of accommodations is allocated to the relevant department. For example, if the accommodation that is needed is related to class work, the responsibility for the accommodation falls to academic support personnel. If the accommodation requires an alteration to a facility, the Facilities Department will provide the accommodation.

The Equity of Access office also functions as the central contact point to document disabilities for students from schools directly affiliated with TWU. Provision of accommodations for these students will be provided by each affiliate.

Academic assistance for students with a documented disability focuses on supporting them in ways that give them "a level playing field." Such assistance may include note-taking, accommodated examinations, and provision of materials in alternate formats. Note: The academic standards of the University shall not be compromised by the academic accommodations provided. Students with a disability are responsible to show, through academic evaluation, that they have mastered the key elements required to pass each class. What may differ is the way in which a person shows mastery of the class materials and learning outcomes.

3. Definitions

3.1 Person with Disability

Persons with disabilities are persons who:

  • have a significant and persistent mobility, sensory, learning, or other physical or mental health impairment which may be permanent or temporary; and
  • experience functional restrictions or limitations of their ability to perform the range of life's activities; and
  • may experience attitudinal and/or environmental barriers which hamper their full and self-directed participation in life.

3.2 Accommodation/Academic Accommodation

Accommodations are alterations to existing procedures, resources or facilities in order to provide an equitable educational experience for students with disabilities.

An academic accommodation is a specific, recommended provision designed to help a student to successfully reach the academic requirements of their course work.

3.3 Appropriate Documentation

Diagnosis of a disability must be made by a professional qualified to make the diagnosis. All documentation must be current, complete, signed by an appropriately certified professional and include the educational impact of the disability along with recommended accommodations. Academic accommodations, though based on the diagnosis of a disability, are the result of evaluating the appropriateness of recommended accommodations within specific courses and contexts at the University. For more information about requirements of documentation contact the Director, Equity of Access and Learning Resources.

4. Privacy

Student disability documents are confidential and information related to disabilities is housed in the Equity of Access office and the Academic Disabilities Liaison office. Information regarding a student's disability is only provided to other TWU professional employees on a need to know basis. Any person with a need to know is responsible to protect the confidentiality of the information they receive.

The University gathers and maintains information used for the purposes of registration, student assessment, grade records, and other activities related to being a member of the Trinity Western community. The information provided by applicants and students will be used in compliance with The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The University Registrar serves as the privacy officer for student-related matters.

5. Key Personnel

5.1 Equity of Access Office

The Director, Equity of Access and Learning Resources is the central contact person for students with disabilities. The Equity of Access office collects and processes student documentation. Once a disability is documented and appropriate accommodations are identified and agreed upon, the Equity of Access office refers the accommodation recommendations to the appropriate parties for implementation.

5.2 Academic Support

The Academic Disabilities Liaison (ADL) acts as a liaison between students, faculty and other personnel/sources to provide the academic accommodations identified by the Equity of Access office. The ADL is a resource on disability issues for faculty and when necessary helps to facilitate the resolution of student issues or concerns pertaining to academic accommodation.

5.3 Administration and Policy

The Vice Provost or Designate is responsible to give oversight to University governing agencies regarding broad academic policy issues directly related to issues affecting students with disabilities.

5.4 Other personnel

When an accommodation is needed that is not of an academic nature, the request will be directed to the appropriate divisional or department head by the Equity of Access office.

6. Equitable Access Procedure

To access accommodations for any disability, students must initiate the process by providing appropriate documentation to the Equity of Access office and the follow the procedure listed below. In keeping with the desire to respect the student's choices, the academic division shall assume that if a student does not self-identify to the Equity of Access office, then that student does not believe that accommodations are necessary.

Step 1 - Submit Documentation

Students with a disability should contact the Equity of Access office as early as possible to ensure reasonable time to process the file. The Director, Equity of Access and Learning Resources reviews documentation, verifies disabilities and consults with students regarding accommodations. All documentation must be current, complete, signed by an appropriately certified professional and include the educational impact of the disability along with recommended accommodations.

Step 2 - Request Accommodations

Once a disability is verified, students will request accommodations that will allow for equitable access to the living-learning environment and which are in keeping with the limitations of the disability. After consulting with each student, the Director, Equity of Access and Learning Resources will provide a letter to the student and their professors verifying the documented disability and identifying accommodations that provide equitable access to the campus living-learning environment. The Equity of Access office will provide students with a letter of documentation for their information and will send a copy via e-mail to their professors at the beginning of each semester. If students add or drop classes they must show professors the letter of documentation or request that the Equity of Access office e-mail a copy to the professor.

Step 3 - Provision of Accommodations

Within the first two weeks of the semester, students who wish to arrange accommodations must meet with their professors to agree on accommodations appropriate to each class. This agreement should be done in writing and professors should send a copy of the contract back to the Equity of Access office and the Academic Disabilities Liaison (ADL) for documentation purposes. The student must contact the Academic Disabilities Liaison promptly after receiving the instructor's written summary of the accommodations to discuss any practical arrangements necessary. Course syllabi for each course are to be given to the ADL by the student at that time to facilitate accommodations being made in a timely way.

Note: Accommodations that are not academic in nature will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

7. Appeals Procedures

7.1 Concerns with Recommendations and/or Accommodations

If a student is unhappy with the response of the University, the Director, Equity of Access and Learning Resources may refer the matter to the Committee to Accommodate Equity of Access. This Committee will review relevant information and recommend appropriate action.

If resolution cannot be achieved, a formal, written appeal may be made to the Vice Provost or the head of the department to which the request has been made.

7.2 Concerns with Provision of Academic Accommodations

Once accommodations have been agreed upon, if a student becomes dissatisfied with the provision of an accommodation, they may address their concerns through the following process.

  1. A student must first communicate their concern to the professor(s) involved and try to find an equitable solution.
  2. Should there be an ongoing concern, students should contact the department chair/division dean or an academic advisor with whom the student has developed a trust relationship. When necessary, students may contact the ADL for help or advice regarding their concerns.
  3. If there is still no resolution, a written appeal may be submitted to the Vice Provost or his/her equivalent at affiliated schools.