AC1205 renewal update

UVic’s Policy on Academic Accommodation and Access for Students with Disabilities (AC1205) is currently under review.

Thank you to everyone who has taken part in the AC1205 renewal project so far. Discussion drafts of the policy have yielded a lot of helpful feedback from students, staff, faculty and leaders.

Updated timeline

The original plan was to bring a final version of the policy to Senate in May 2022, but the project team has extended the timeline in order to have additional engagements with stakeholders, develop training and explore resources that can support the implementation of the updated policy. 

“We want a bit more time to thoughtfully consider all of the feedback we’ve received,” says Kim Hart, an external consultant hired on behalf of the provost to support the policy renewal. “This updated timeline will help us ensure that the policy meets the needs of our community – and that the appropriate resources, supports and training are in place to support the implementation of the policy.”

The team plans to bring a final draft of the policy to Senate in the fall term. We’ll continue to update the university community as this project progresses.

Project background

Every year, roughly 10% of UVic students registers with the Centre for Accessible Learning. Through our Policy on Academic Accommodation and Access for Students with Disabilities (AC1205), the university ensures these students receive reasonable academic accommodations to address their specific barriers to learning.

The policy articulates the expectations and responsibilities of the institution, instructors and students in ensuring a successful and accessible learning environment. A project is underway to refresh the policy to align with current standards and best practices.

Project team: 

  • Kim Hart, Grey Horse Consulting
  • Joel Lynn, Executive Director, Student Services
  • Laurie Keenan, Director, Centre for Accessible Learning (CAL)

Consultations to date

Initial consultations included the Advisory Committee on Academic Accommodation and Access for Students with Disabilities, the Faculty Association, some members of the University of Victoria Students’ Society, the UVic Graduate Students’ Society, and the Society for Students with Disabilities, as well as the Senate Committee on Academic Standards, the Senate Committee on Teaching and Learning, the Ombudsperson, and several units and leaders from across campus, among others. Feedback was also collected from stakeholders, including students registered with the Centre for Accessible Learning, via an online survey. A draft went to the February meeting of Senate for information and discussion.

Revised draft

“We’ve had some really productive conversations and feedback from students, staff, faculty and university leaders,” says Hart. “We seriously considered everything that we heard and have made a lot of changes to the policy in response.”

On Mar. 8, 2022 an updated discussion draft was shared with stakeholders for feedback, complete with comments indicating where major changes have occurred. The team also developed a separate guide to the changes in this latest draft. “We know that there is a lot to take in and we want to make this as easy as possible for people to understand and provide their feedback,” adds Hart.

Download and review the updated AC1205 draft (draft 2)

This policy is subject to consultation with the Faculty Association under Article 8 of the Collective Agreement with the Faculty Association.

What's changed with this version?

Feedback on the initial discussion draft was extensive and diverse. The following table summarizes key themes we heard from the first round of consultations, and from Senate in February, and indicates changes incorporated into the Mar. 8, 2022 draft.

Please note: Some of the feedback received was related to operational matters – for example, that different classroom venues (labs, large lecture rooms, small classrooms) can each create different types of barriers to learning which should be taken into account in the accommodation plan. The project team will direct this type of input to the university’s administration for consideration.

View the following table in an accessible format

Section What we heard Response
General

 

 

Scope

The policy doesn't address hybrid learning, pathway programs and other efforts to increase access

The intent of the policy is to address academic accommodations specifically. We are looking for ways to highlight other work happening across the university to increase access and accessibility. Much of the feedback we have received to date through this process can inform those and future projects. A cross-portfolio strategy for the university would be more inclusive and informed by the BC Government.

Workload

Concern around instructor workload

There are several central resources available in CAL and LTSI to support instructors and reduce workload (e.g., learning experience designers specializing in accessibility).

We are exploring additional resources to support changes to this policy as needed, including TAs designated to help with logistics or communications for academic accommodations. If you have any suggestions on what might be helpful in this regard, please include them in question 11 of the online feedback form.

Definitions

 

 

Academic accommodation

Concern that the short list of academic accommodations within this definition replaces long list of examples in current procedures

The long list of examples in current procedures has been retained but now appears in Schedule 1 to the Undergraduate Procedures.

Disability

Prefer the social model of disability

Revised definition to refer to social model as it appears in the current Policy AC1205.

Instructor

Clarify whether this includes teaching assistants, lab instructors

Definition revised to draw a distinction between the person who holds responsibility for the course and others who may be involved in either supporting or teaching it.

Student

Definition of student includes only those currently registered in one or more credit courses; why aren’t non-credit learners, prospective students, and returning students also included in this definition?

Accommodation for non-credit learners is normally provided through the Division of Continuing Studies or through the Unit offering the non-credit course. The admission and re-registration processes are not part of the university’s academic offerings and therefore are not covered by this policy, which focusses on academic accommodation. However, prospective and returning students may still be accommodated within these processes.

 

Non-credit students are not mentioned in the Jan 19 Policy Discussion Draft

Definition of Non-credit learners added; accommodation processes for these learners is normally through Division of Continuing Studies or through the Unit offering the non-credit course. However there may be situations where a student is registered in a mix of credit and non-credit courses, which may require collaboration between CAL and the DCS and/or CAL and the Unit.

Undue hardship

Prefer this legal concept be stated in the positive

Definition revised.

Foundational Statements

 

 

Principles

Prefer to retain welcoming language in current Policy AC1205 at section 2.1

Language from current Policy AC1205 inserted; see section 1.1.

Shared responsibility

Content of section 5.1 should be in Principles

Moved content to section 1.4 and added Learning and Teaching Support and Innovation (LTSI).

Scope

 

 

Section 3.1

Include non-credit learners

As above, non-credit learners are normally supported through DCS or the Unit offering the non-credit course.

Section 3.2

Policy should apply to Co-op work term placements or explain why it does not.  Where do co-op students go for information, advice, and support for accommodation during a co-op work term?

Policy does not apply to co-op work term placements. Clarified responsibility for accommodation in the workplace and added that co-op students should seek information, advice, and support from Co-operative Education Program and Career Services (see section 3.3.1).  Also clarified workplace accommodation if student is employed by UVic (see section 3.3.2).

Responsibilities

 

 

Section 4 - General

Policy is silent about support(s) the University will provide to make courses more accessible, to determine essential requirements, and/or to implement academic accommodation

Enhanced list of University Responsibilities includes support through LTSI (s.4.1.4.A); also see section 8.0 and linkages in section 6.1.a and 6.2.

Implementation of Academic Accommodation Plan

Policy lacks guidance for students whose Academic Accommodation Plan is not being implemented in a timely way

CAL is responsible for guiding students (s.4.4.1.B.h); Students are responsible for notifying CAL if accommodations are not implemented (s.5.3.f); Instructors must notify CAL if they have concern about Academic Accommodation plan or its implementation (s.6.1.d); Administrative Head’s responsibilities include supporting the Student and the Instructor to implement the accommodations (s.7.1.c). Also see procedures.

Section 5.3.b – Documentation of Disability

Concern that the University’s requirements for documentation are too stringent and can be a burden for students; should be explicit about documentation required

Requirement for documentation is detailed in the procedures.

Section 7.1 - Instructors

Concern about potential workload; is there support for Instructors to identify essential requirements and/or support for implementing academic accommodation?

Added LTSI supports to s.4.1.4.A (and to corresponding responsibilities of LTSI in s.8).

Section 7.2

Universal design for learning is an important step for accessibility for all, not just those who may need accommodations.

 

Prefer the policy not specify principles of universal design; syllabus ineffective for communicating about CAL

 

Accessibility should be mandatory

Removed  7.1.a through 7.1.c.

 

Section 6.2 replaces section 7.2.  It states:  Instructors are expected and encouraged to create inclusive, supportive, and accessible learning environments through course design, instructional strategies, and course assessments, and are encouraged to seek advice, guidance, and support from the LTSI and from CAL.

 

Section 7.3 – Factors for identifying Essential Requirements

Is there support for instructors who are determining Essential Requirements?

Added section 4.1.4.A: UVic will support the operations of LTSI; added LTSI/CAL support in section 6.1.a; moved the factors for Essential Requirements (from s.7.3) to procedures

See additional notes below

Section 9.1 - CAL responsibilities

 

What is CAL’s responsibility for implementing Academic Accommodation?

See above:  CAL communicates with Instructors and is responsible for guiding students (s.4.4.1.B.h); Students are responsible for notifying CAL when accommodations are not implemented (s.5.3.f)

Sections 10.4 and 6.4 - Practicums

Accommodation for field education and practicums is unclear

Revised s.5.3.g and s.10.1 to clarify responsibility and added process to the undergraduate procedures

 

Resolving disagreements

 

 

Sections 11.6 and 11.7

Student processes seem less robust than processes for Instructors

Revised; process is detailed in procedures; includes possibility of Vice-Provost review; Student right to appeal to Senate Committee on Appeals retained

About essential requirements

It’s important to note that essential requirements have always been a requirement of Policy AC1205 and are not new to this new draft.

Essential requirements help clarify course expectations. They provide an important foundation for assessing requests for academic accommodation as well as supporting students and instructors in agreeing to suitable accommodations.

The AC1205 procedures include three factors for determining essential requirements, to ensure a consistent approach throughout UVic. These factors mirror the legal test applied by the Human Rights Tribunal when assessing a claim for discrimination.

About reduced course load

Please note that there is a clerical error in Discussion Draft Two. Appendix A, s78 should read:

  • All CAL registered students have an accommodation to take a reduced course load and still be considered a full time student for academic purposes. A reduced course load accommodation is defined as at least 3 units of credit in each term (e.g., two 1.5 credit courses per term, excluding duplicate and/or mutually exclusive course work). CAL registered students may be eligible to participate in university programming that requires full-time status (e.g., scholarships and awards, residence, work study, etc.) while taking a reduced course load.

Next steps

The existing policy AC1205 will remain in place until a revised version is approved by Senate. The policy review is expected to wrap up in fall 2022.