Policy For Students With Disabilities

St. Francis Xavier University recognizes the right of students with disabilities who are academically qualified to participate fully in the life of the University. Members of faculty and instructional staff [1], support staff and administrative staff share the University's responsibility under the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act for accommodation of students with disabilities. This policy encourages dialogue among stakeholders as to how the needs of individuals can be accommodated within the terms of legislation and current University policies and guidelines in the area. All such dealings require mutual understanding and respect from the parties involved in the accommodation process.To the point of undue hardship [2], the University is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals with identified and duly assessed disabilities[3].
Guiding Principles
A.  The University promotes awareness, advocacy and learning partnerships among students with disabilities and the whole of the University community. The fundamental approach of the University stresses the development of self-advocacy and personal independence for students with disabilities.
B.  The University follows the definition of disability as outlined in the current Nova Scotia Human Rights Act which includes, but is not limited to, visual, hearing, communication and mobility impairments, learning disabilities, and other non-visible disabilities.
C.   The University promotes the full participation of students with disabilities in their respective academic programs. It is recognized that the provision of academic accommodation is a shared accountability and responsibility between the University and the student.
D.   The University is required by law to maintain confidentiality to the greatest extent possible when providing academic accommodation and related support services to students.
E.   The University pledges to maintain a leadership role among the Province's educational institutions in implementing inclusive accessibility strategies.
F.    The University supports academic accommodation for students with disabilities so that they may meet the learning objectives of their courses and be given the opportunity to be fairly evaluated on their mastery of course material.
G.   The University affirms its commitment to the improvement of physical accessibility throughout the campus and will make this a priority in the construction of any new facilities and in the renovation of existing facilities.
1.      Services for Students with Disabilities
In addition to the services provided to all students, a Program for Students with Disabilities (PSWD) has been developed. Administered through the Centre for Accessible Learning (CAL), the program of support assists students in recognizing their learning needs and in becoming effective self-advocates who can successfully communicate the accommodations necessary.
1.1.   The PSWD strives to model and teach the development of effective working partnerships. This approach meets students' needs for mainstream participation and assists them in developing skills that will benefit them beyond university.
1.2.   The Coordinator of the CAL has been designated as the first point of contact for prospective students with disabilities and inquiries regarding disability issues and services. The Coordinator is designated to act as consultant, facilitator, and advocate in this area for all members of the University community.
1.3.   The Coordinator and/or CAL staff advise students on learning strategies and facilitate dialogues with instructors.
1.4.   CAL staff assists in the development of individual strategies and in the provision of services to implement them. This may include registration assistance, tutoring, note taking, adaptive technology or attendant care.
1.5.   Decisions regarding academic accommodation are made on an individual basis and must be consistent with the academic integrity of the course or program.
1.6.   Where classrooms are not physically accessible, the Office of the Registrar will effect classroom changes to allow the participation of a student with a disability.
1.7.   CAL staff engages in educational activities for the community and assists instructors, staff members and other students in matters regarding students with disabilities.
2.      University Admission
2.1.   Students with disabilities seeking admission to the University are expected to satisfy the normal admission requirements. In cases where conditions for admission are not met, the Manager of Admissions, in consultation with the Coordinator of CAL and the dean of the relevant faculty, will consider each of these cases on an individual basis. Additional materials describing the exceptional grounds that have prevented achievement of the normal admission standards will be required.
2.2.   Applicants are not required to declare their disabilities on their admission applications. However, they may wish to self-identify and submit additional material to highlight their abilities to participate in university studies.
3.      Accessing the Services of the Program for Students with Disabilities
3.1 Students with disabilities are encouraged both on the application form and in the University’s Academic Calendar to identify themselves to the Coordinator of the CAL as soon as possible. Students are responsible for identifying to the Coordinator their individual needs for academic accommodation and services. Students with documentation will be accepted into the PSWD up to two weeks prior to the end of classes each semester.
3.2 Students with disabilities who request academic accommodation must provide the PSWD with relevant professional supporting documentation from a regulated health professional practitioner as recognized by the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education, Post-secondary Disability Services. Students with learning disabilities must provide a summary of the results of a complete psycho-educational assessment conducted by an appropriate registered psychologist.
3.3 Students’ accommodation needs are discussed with the Coordinator and/or program staff. Services within the Centre for Accessible Learning are provided based on recommendations outlined in the relevant documentation provided as proof of disability.
4.      Academic Accommodation
4.1  Academic accommodation refers to educational practices, systems and support
mechanisms designed to accommodate diversity and difference.
4.2  The purpose of accommodation is to enable students to perform the essential requirements of their academic programs.
4.3  At no time does academic accommodation undermine or compromise the learning objectives that are established by the academic authorities of the University.
5.      Coordinating Academic Accommodations
5.1  At the student's request, the Coordinator will formally identify the student as a participant in the PSWD and recommend appropriate accommodation based on documentation on file at the CAL.
5.2  A "Letter of Accommodation" outlining required academic accommodation is written by the Coordinator, in conjunction with the student.
5.3 The student is required to meet as soon as possible with each instructor with whom accommodation is required to discuss the contents of the letter and have it signed. In accordance with Canada’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy legislation, the student is not required to disclose the nature of the disability to the instructor.
5.4 The instructor may contact the CAL for further consultation as needed.
5.5 Current practices and procedures of accommodation are documented on the website of  the Centre for Accessible Learning.
6.      Resolving Unmet Academic Accommodation
6.1.   Any dispute of academic accommodation between the student and instructor may be mediated by the Coordinator of the CAL.
6.2.   If a dispute is unresolved by discussion between the student and the instructor, the student should appeal in writing first to the relevant Department Chair or Program Coordinator. If the matter remains unresolved, written appeal should be made to the Dean of the Faculty through which the course is delivered.
6.3.   It is expected that issues are resolved expediently so that the student’s academic term is not compromised.
7.      Residence
7.1.   Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact the Residence Office as soon as possible, preferably on their residence applications, to indicate specific housing requirements. If requested by the student, the Coordinator of the CAL may act as liaison with the Residence Office.
7.2.   Several rooms in the University’s residences have been adapted to accommodate persons with disabilities. Students without disabilities may initially be assigned to these rooms with the understanding that they will be required to move if students with disabilities subsequently require these rooms. In such cases, the Residence Office will make all reasonable effort to accommodate all parties.
8.      Confidentiality
8.1.   The University is required by law to maintain confidentiality to the greatest extent possible when providing academic accommodation and related support services to students.
8.2.   The CAL may compile non-identifying information on persons with disabilities in order to obtain data related to program planning, service delivery, program evaluation, and research.
8.3.   Students with disabilities may request and authorize the CAL to share relevant information from their files to assist in obtaining access, accommodations, or services. This authorization will involve signing a “Consent to Release or Obtain Information” form.
9.      The Senate Committee for Students with Disabilities
9.1.   The Senate Committee for Students with Disabilities was established in 1991. The primary function of the Committee is to provide interdisciplinary support for the Centre for Accessible Learning, and to advocate for the CAL and for the students it serves. Through a wide constituent representation, it allows for the interests of students with disabilities to be considered deliberately at every level in the decision-making processes of the University.
9.2.   The Committee reviews policy to ensure relevance and compliance with provincial and national guidelines, and in response to inevitable changes required over time in the offering of services by the CAL.
9.3.   The Committee reports to the University Senate on a yearly basis.
9.4.   The Senate Committee for Students with Disabilities consists of the following persons:
9.4.1.         Vice-President, Recruitment and Student Experience, who shall name the chair
9.4.2.         Coordinator of the Program for Students with Disabilities
9.4.3.         Vice-President of the Students' Union
9.4.4.         Two students with disabilities currently registered at StFX, to be appointed               

                   by the Vice-President of the Students' Union for a two-year
9.4.5.         Representative from Academic Advising
9.4.6.         Manager of Admissions
9.4.7.         Representative from Continuing and Distance Education
9.4.8.         Director of Facilities Management, or designate
9.4.9.         Representative from the Health and Counselling Centre
9.4.10.       Human Rights and Equity Advisor
9.4.11.       Representative from the Library
9.4.12.       Representative from the Office of the Registrar
9.4.13.       Representative from the Residence Office
9.4.14.       Representative from Technology Support Group
9.4.15.       One Faculty of Arts faculty member, to be elected by the Senate for a three-year term
9.4.16.       One Faculty of Business faculty member, to be elected by the Senate for a three-year

9.4.17.       One Faculty of Education faculty member, to be elected by the Senate for a

                   three-year term 
9.4.18.       One Faculty of Science faculty member, to be elected by the Senate for a three-year

9.4.19.       Other members as deemed appropriate by the Committee
Approved by the St. Francis Xavier University Senate
March 9, 2015

[1] Hereafter, the term “instructor” refers to all individuals performing teaching duties.

[2] Obligation is to accommodate to the point of “undue hardship”, as defined by court decisions. This can include cost, inconvenience, competing obligations, impact on others, safety or other risks. The nature and cost of the accommodation in relation to the size of the institution may also be taken into consideration.

[3] This policy operates in conjunction with other relevant University policies. Of particular relevance is General article 8 in Part I of the StFX Discrimination & Harassment Policy.