Policy Consultation – Proposed Amendment of Policy #73 (Academic Accommodation For Students With Disabilities)

The UBC community is invited to comment on proposed amendments to Policy #73 (Academic Accommodation for Students with Disabilities).

The existing Policy #73 has been in place, without amendment, since 1999. Since that time, certain parts of the Policy have become outdated, including the name of the administrative office designated with the primary responsibility for accommodating students with disabilities on the Vancouver campus. Also, there is a need for more guidance within the Policy on when accommodations are to be made and how they will be implemented.

The Policy was originally intended to apply only to accommodations of an academic nature, but there is a need to extend it to non-academic accommodations provided to students with disabilities, which are already coordinated through the same offices at the University (i.e. Access & Diversity for UBC Vancouver and the Disability Resource Centre for UBC Okanagan). Also, the appeal process under the existing Policy #73 has been very slow and inefficient and warranted a new, streamlined appeal structure that allows for efficient resolution.

Although Policy #73 is currently a Board policy, it became apparent that the Policy should become a joint Senate and Board policy due to the academic impact of accommodations for students with disabilities.

The proposed amendments to Policy #73 are intended to modernize the Policy and ensure a more effective and accountable process for accommodating students with disabilities at the University by providing additional guidance for students, faculty and staff in terms of the process by which accommodations for students with disabilities are made at the University. The key elements of the proposed amendments do the following:

1. remove the word “academic” from the title of the Policy so that it is clear that the Policy applies beyond academic considerations;

2. explain the purpose of accommodation in the learning environment and the University’s responsibility and commitment to providing accommodation;

3. expand upon and clarify the scope of the Policy;

4. define key terms used in the Policy;

5. clearly set out the responsibilities of those key members of the University involved in the accommodation process;

6. distinguish disabilities from temporary health issues, which are addressed through the process set out in the Senate Regulation on Academic Concession in the University’s academic calendars;

7. bring the Policy into alignment with the University’s existing practices and lay out the process for creating accommodation, step by step;

8. outline the key principles to be considered when determining and implementing accommodations, including guidance as to how reasonable and appropriate accommodations will be made and what factors are considered, such as explanations surrounding the “undue hardship” limitation to the duty to accommodate and the essential requirement component of this limitation. In this respect, Access & Diversity and the Disability Resource Centre have committed to supplying further information and materials on their websites that would provide further guidance to persons wanting to better understand the concepts of undue hardship and essential requirements for the purposes of Policy #73; and

9. establish streamlined procedures that are consistent across the two campuses, including new and refined appeal processes where a student or an instructor or other University employee disagrees with a recommended accommodation, allowing for more prompt resolution.

Of particular note is the new mechanism for instructors or other University employees seeking review of an academic accommodation decision to determine whether undue hardship would be incurred. The purpose of this mechanism is to ensure that this review process is timely and allows for a decision to be made by a qualified, well-informed decision-maker, without causing unnecessary delays to the parties affected by such decision.

The proposed amendments are now being published and all members of the University community are encouraged to provide their comments. Please submit feedback to the Office of the University Counsel at university.counsel@ubc.ca by September 30, 2018.

Once the consultation period concludes, all of the feedback will be provided to the Policy Review Committee that was convened by the Office of the University Counsel to review Policy #73. The Policy Review Committee will, in consultation with the Senate & Curriculum Services office, consider all feedback and determine what, if any, adjustments should be made to the proposed amendments to Policy #73, before submission to the Board and the Senates for approval.

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