Last update: May 4, 2016

The University is committed to providing access for students with disabilities while maintaining academic standards. As the provision of academic accommodations can be complex given the range of possible instructional/exam formats, providing accommodations is best accomplished through a collaboration between the instructor, the student, and an Access & Diversity Advisor.

Each of the three parties brings an important perspective: the student has a unique and personal knowledge of his/her disability, the instructor has content knowledge and an understanding of the required outcomes, and the Access & Diversity Advisor has a broad-based knowledge of disabilities and their impact on academic performance.

As an instructor, you have a responsibility to:

  1. Familiarize yourself with relevant University policies and procedures. Example: review the University's Policy on Academic Accommodation for Students with Disabilities.
  2. Treat information about a student with a disability as confidential according to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
  3. Consult with Access and Diversity to ensure that your courses or programs are accessible to students with disabilities.
  4. Implement the accommodations listed on the Academic Accommodation Letter for a student with disabilities who has self-identified themselves to you form.

Your responsibilities apply whenever a student self-identifies themselves to you. The student's responsibility is to provide you with an Academic Accommodation Letter from Access & Diversity that identifies the accommodations that they are eligible for in an academic setting and the contact information for their Access & Diversity Accessibility Advisor.

It is important that this information be held in confidence. Faculty members and instructors should not discuss a student's disability or accommodations in the presence of other students. Any discussion should be held in private to ensure that confidentiality is maintained.

Please note that students are not required to present documentation of their disability to any source other than Access & Diversity. It is not appropriate for faculty to request disability documentation from students.

Determining learning outcomes

Receiving requests for academic accommodations

The student's Academic Accommodation Letter from Access & Diversity lists academic accommodations the student is eligible for based on the student's documented requirements. Accommodations include support services, such as notetaking and interpreting, which are arranged by Access & Diversity. Other accommodations may be academic, such as extended exam sitting times.

When you are provided with an Academic Accommodation Letter, you should discuss the recommended accommodations with the student to determine which are appropriate for the course or program.

Considering requests for academic accommodations

In considering a request for an academic accommodation, please ask yourself the following:

  • Can the student meet all essential requirements, despite their disability, if given the recommended accommodation?
  • Would the provision of this accommodation allow the student to demonstrate their knowledge and skill in the subject without changing the outcome variable and the academic standard of the course?
Balancing academic accommodations with academic standards

In rare circumstances, upholding academic standards might affect the provision of disability-related academic accommodations. You are not expected to alter the University's academic standards when providing accommodations. It is important to know that in any review of the disability-related accommodations the focus must be on meeting the requirements of a specific class or University program. Requirements for a subsequent purpose, such as those of a licensing body or for the workplace, should not be considered.

If you believe that implementing with academic accommodations listed in the letter will compromise the academic standards of your course, contact the Accessibility Advisor listed on the letter. 


Captioning and sign interpreting

Access & Diversity provides sign interpreting, oral interpreting, and captioning services for eligible deaf and hard of hearing students, faculty, and staff. 

Captioned media in class

It is the responsibility of the user (i.e. the student) to submit the request for these services. It is the responsibility of the instructor to ensure that any videos or other AV materials being shown in the class have captions if there are deaf or hard of hearing students in the class. Where possible, materials that are already captioned should be ordered. Where this is not the case, please complete the captioned media request form and return to Access & Diversity.

One-time requests and event planning

Faculty and staff organizing events  on campus are encouraged to budget for interpreting and/or captioning services. Please contact Access & Diversity to facilitate the scheduling of a service provider. We will need the following information:

  • Type of service required (sign interpreter or captionist). 
  • Date, time, duration, location, and type of event. 
  • Name of client for whom the service is being requested.


Exam accommodations

Exam accommodations are intended to remove the effects of a disability on a student's demonstration of knowledge and skills. Accommodations are based on a student's documented disability. Examples of accommodations include additional exam time, providing exam questions in audio format, or allowing the use of a computer to write exams.

Effective May 1, 2016, exam hours have been extended from 8 am to 9:30 pm to provide increased service to students and faculty. With the extended hours, students with a disability can be scheduled to write the exam at, or closer to, the same time as the rest of the class for 8 am and evening classes.

For more information about exam accommodations please contact our Exam Coordinator at or 604.822.0952.

Preparing for accommodated exams

Access & Diversity is responsible for facilitating over 11,000 exams each year for approximately 2,400 clients. On a given day during the formal exam period, up to 220 different exams are scheduled.

Administering these exams is a complex and time-consuming process, and we require enough preparation time to secure the exam from instructors, book spaces, hire staff to invigilate, and arrange disability-related exam accommodations. Your support and cooperation is essential and appreciated.

Determining the need for accommodations

Students are expected to provide a letter to their instructors at the outset of the term that identifies their exam accommodations and the contact information for their Accessibility Advisor. Accommodations are determined by the student's Accessibility Advisor, who reviews the student's disability documentation. You are not authorized to adjust these accommodations unless academic standards are compromised. If you believe that implementing with academic accommodations listed in the letter will compromise the academic standards of your course, contact the Accessibility Advisor listed on the letter. 

Arranging exam accommodations

Ideally, departments arrange for students to write accommodated exams within their own facilities. However, students requiring specialized services, equipment, or settings that cannot be reasonably provided by a department may arrange to write exams through Access & Diversity. In such cases Access & Diversity provides exam invigilation and implements the University's exam policies.

Accommodated exam booking

Students writing an exam at Access & Diversity need to reserve an Exam Booking at least 7 days before the exam date and at least 7 days before the final exam period begins. For information about steps for students to follow please visit our student information page.

As an instructor, you will receive an email notice one week in advance of the test date, with a link to log in to the online Exam Booking System using your Campus Wide Login (CWL). Please ensure that you:

  1. Log in within 48 hours to review requests and provide us with exam details.
  2. Upload your exam into the system (encrypted for security) or submit it in person to our office two or more days prior to the scheduled exam date or at least one week prior for exams that need to be in Braille.
  3. Select the method of exam delivery by choosing to have it returned to your departmental office or picked up from the Access & Diversity office the following business day.

If you do not have a CWL, if another contact should authorize exams for your course, or if you have questions, please contact our Exam Coordinator at or 604-822-0952.

Delivering the exam to Access & Diversity

Instructors should provide Access & Diversity with a copy of the exam at least 2 days before the exam date. The exam may be submitted through the online exam system, emailed, faxed, or dropped off at our office.

If the exam needs to be transformed into Braille or if colour slides need to be printed, the exam should be sent to us 7 days in advance. As a courtesy, Access & Diversity sends an automated reminder 2 days prior to the exam date.

Picking up the completed exam

Exams are delivered back to your department within 1 business day of the exam. If you wish to pick up the exam from the Access & Diversity office, indicate "do not deliver" on the online exam system.

You may pick up completed exams at 9:30 am on the business day following the exam sitting. Access & Diversity cannot customize other delivery or pickup options.


Alternate format

Alternate format materials are electronic, audio, Braille, or large print versions of academic print material used in class. Alternate format materials allow students with disabilities access to engage with course materials. A student’s eligibility for alternate format materials is determined by the student's disability as documented by Access & Diversity.

Access & Diversity's Crane Library produces and houses a collection of audio, e-text, Braille, and large print texts.

Determining alternate format accommodations

Accommodations are determined by the student's Accessibility Advisor. In keeping with Access & Diversity's guidelines and in accordance with the Canadian Copyright Act, the advisor reviews the student's disability documentation to determine accommodations.

You are not authorized to increase, decrease, or otherwise change a student’s accommodations unless academic standards are compromised. In such cases, you should consult with the student's Accessibility Advisor.

At the outset of the term, students are expected to provide you with a letter that identifies their alternate format accommodations. This letter also identifies their Accessibility Advisor.

Policies and expectations

Our alternate format procedures are guided by copyright requirements to ensure that we do not compromise service. The Canadian Copyright Act requires that the student provide us with a hard copy of the materials and proof of payment. Students must make arrangements to purchase the materials from the UBC Bookstore, the instructor, or other source, as they become available.

A course syllabus is also required so that Access & Diversity staff can produce materials in priority sequencing.

Producing alternate format materials

The production of alternate format materials is a complex process in which students, instructors, and Access & Diversity staff all play important roles.

A simple text a couple pages long can be completed in a few days. Longer and/or complex texts may take months to produce. Materials are completed in sections according to the timelines stated in the course syllabus.

For each course, students must communicate their alternate format requirements to you in advance. It is important that you provide your student with a syllabus of the course readings and ensure that the texts are available for purchase prior to the outset of the term.

If you have any questions, please contact the Access & Diversity office at


Instructor FAQ

1. Can I request disability documentation from my students? 

You should not ask a student to share information about the nature of their disability, nor should you request copies of their documentation. The student gives their documentation of disability directly to Access & Diversity, as outlined in UBC's policy on Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities (Policy 73)

The student will provide you with an Academic Accommodation Letter, which includes information about the student's eligible academic accommodations, the contact information of their Accessibility Advisor, and any other information required to implement the accommodations.

Please note that a disability is treated differently than an illness such as the flu or a cold. In cases of illness, students are expected to speak with you or with a faculty advisor to determine what documentation is required for academic concessions related to their illness.

2. A student in my class has informed me that they have a disability. What do I need to do next? 

Ask the student if they are registered with Access & Diversity. If they are, ask them to provide you with a copy of their Academic Accommodation Letter. If they are not registered with Access & Diversity, recommend that they contact Access & Diversity at 604.822.5844 to set up an appointment to meet with an Accessibility Advisor.

3. What should I do if I feel that implementing a student's disability-related academic accommodation will interfere with the learning outcomes of my course? 

If you are concerned about the impact of academic accommodations on your course's learning outcomes, contact the Accessibility Advisor identified on the student's Academic Accommodation Letter. 

4. What if a student requests an academic accommodation that is not identified by Access & Diversity? 

All academic accommodations must be based on disability-related functional limitations that are confirmed by medical documentation provided to Access & Diversity. If a student requests an academic accommodation that is not identified by Access & Diversity, refer the student to their Accessibility Advisor to discuss the request.

You are not authorized to increase, decrease, or otherwise change a student's academic accommodations. All such requests must go through the student's Accessibility Advisor.

5. What do I need to know about students writing accommodated exams through Access & Diversity? 

Students need to use our online Exam Reservations System to book each exam written through Access & Diversity. You will be notified by email one week in advance of the test date with a link to the online Exam Booking System. Within 48 hours you must:

  1. Log in to review student requests and provide exam details (including allowances such as calculators).
  2. Choose how you would like completed exams returned to you (either pick-up from our office or delivery).

You are expected to provide Access & Diversity with a copy of the exam two days prior to the exam sitting. Exams can be delivered in person to the Access & Diversity office (1203 Brock Hall), by posting the exam on the online Exam Booking System, by confidential fax (604.822.6655), or by emailing it to If you have additional questions, please contact our Exam Coordinator at or 604-822-0952.