Academic Accommodations

The Accommodation Policy sets out the conditions and procedures for requesting and obtaining academic accommodations, including exam deferrals and extensions for other academic work such as papers and assignments.  Students may request advice on accommodations from the Assistant Dean, J.D. Program and the Manager, Academic/Personal Counselling and Wellness.

Accessibility Services

Students with chronic illness and ongoing disabilities that require ongoing accommodation must register with Accessibility Services.  When appropriate, they will be assigned a counsellor who will work closely with them developing a set of standard accommodations.  Accessibility counsellors can also work with students to make additional accommodation requests beyond their standard accommodations, when necessary. 

Students who are registered with Accessibility Services for exam-related accommodations must submit their exam schedule to Accessibility Services well in advance of the final exam period.  Students who miss Accessibility Service’s deadline, but still wish to ask for accommodations should contact Accessibility Services as soon as possible to see if they can still arrange appropriate accommodations in the time available. Students should not count on this being possible; if Accessibility Services cannot arrange accommodations after the deadline, students must petition for a Deferred Exam from the Accommodation Committee. 

Students should not accept outside obligations such as significant employment during the academic term; accommodations will not be granted to enable students to fulfill these obligations.

Student Accommodations Committee

The Student Accommodations Committee handles individual requests for accommodations based on short term events such as a death in the family, illness, or other problems that pose an obstacle to submitting academic work.  In order to maintain anonymity and also to ensure consistency in decisions, students may not make accommodations requests to individual faculty members. Instructors who receive accommodation requests must refer students to the Assistant Dean, J.D. Program.

I.    General principles

  1. In the interest of fairness and equity among students and to protect academic integrity, accommodations will be designed within the framework of the Faculty of Law academic policy.

  2. It is the obligation of students in need of accommodation who are completing the demanding academic program at the Faculty to identify their needs in a timely fashion. 
  3. Where an accommodation is granted by the SAC, students are expected to prioritize the completion of outstanding academic obligations at the first opportunity.  In the event a student is accommodated, outside obligations cannot be prioritized over outstanding academic obligations.
  4. In all cases, accommodations require supporting documentation. In keeping with the University of Toronto’s policy on scheduling of classes and examinations and other accommodations for religious observances, notes are not required to support requests for religious accommodations.
  5. Students may not contact their instructors to request accommodations.  Instructors do not have the authority to grant extensions or deferrals to assignments and exams, and students who make such requests violate the principle of anonymity of grading governing the evaluation of student work at the Faculty of Law. 
  6. While the Student Accommodation Committee may consider post hoc requests for accommodations, students must make every effort to arrange accommodations in advance of due dates.  Retroactive requests for accommodation must include an explanation for why the request could not be made in advance of the deadline, and those explanations should be accompanied by appropriate documentation.  Students who do not make timely accommodation requests without a valid reason may be subject to the ordinary academic penalties for lateness.

II.   Exam deferrals

Outside the context of students with chronic illness and ongoing disabilities handled by Accessibility Services, the Faculty expects students to prepare for and make themselves available to write all exams as scheduled. Only a small number of emergencies can be important enough to prevent a student from writing an exam. If, for example, something happens the day before an exam that means a student missed one day of studying, he or she should still be sufficiently prepared to write.

Students who have a minor emergency that delays their arrival at an exam by 20 minutes or less from the start of an exam should go immediately to the examination hall and follow the instructions of the invigilator.  Students who are more than 20 minutes late should go directly to the Records Office; records staff will attempt to schedule the student to write the exam during the time remaining.  If it is not possible to find a space for the student to write the exam, he or she will be asked to return, but the new exam time shall be reduced by the number of minutes the student was late on the day of the exam.  Students without valid reasons for lateness or non-appearance at an exam will be assigned a penalty for lateness.

Students who are ill or have a significant emergency that prevents them from attending an exam should request permission to defer writing the exam.   Exams are deferred only when a student is unable to write them. When reviewing a petition for deferral, the question the Student Accommodations Committee will consider is not, “Are these the optimal conditions for the student to write this exam?” but “Was the student so incapacitated that he or she cannot write this exam?”

  1. Examples of reasons for which exam deferrals will normally be granted:
    • Illness or injury having a significant impact on academic performance, with supporting documentation.
    • The serious illness of a person in the immediate family which requires a student to take on significant caregiving responsibilities. Documentation from the immediate family member’s physician is required.
    • There are two categories of bereavement leave.  A student may request a deferral to attend a religious or other memorial service.  A student who suffers the loss of a person to whom he or she is extremely close, e.g., a member of his or her immediate family, may find that more extensive accommodations are necessary.  In some cases students may be asked to submit appropriate documentation.
    • Accident, victim of crime, sudden loss of housing, or similar traumatic experience that interferes with exam preparation. A police report, or similar documentation, is required.
    • Delivery of a child (both parents).
    • Scheduled exam falling on a religious holiday.
    • Exam conflicts with another exam for a cross-registered or combined program course
    • Two exams are scheduled for the same day.
    • Such other extraordinary circumstances as deemed appropriate by the SAC.

  2. Examples of reasons for which exam deferrals will not normally be granted:
    • Employment reasons.
    • Travel/vacation/social plans, including weddings.
    • Airline flights and schedules.
    • Other assignments due on or around the same due date.
    • Common printer or computer problems, including computer crashes, coffee spilled on laptops, etc. (Among other things, students are expected to continuously back up their work.
    • Common commuting issues including parking, traffic and transit problems.
    • Religious holiday falling before or during the exam period, without directly conflicting with a scheduled exam.

  3. Requests for exam deferrals due to illness or other extraordinary circumstances:

    Students who are unable to attend an exam due to illness or other extraordinary circumstances must make all reasonable efforts to notify the Assistant Dean, J.D. Program or the Records Office before the exam is scheduled to begin.

  4. To request an exam deferral, students must fill out the Faculty of Law Accommodation Request Form, attach the relevant documentation, and submit it to accommodations.law@utoronto.ca. Students must submit the form and all documentation as soon as is reasonably practicable. In most cases, this will be within a week. If the documentation is not submitted as soon as is reasonably practicable (and barring exceptional circumstances), the request will be rejected.

    Medical documentation must be written by a physician, surgeon, nurse practitioner, registered psychologist, dentist or other medical practitioner. The University of Toronto Verification of Student Illness or Injury Form is the only medical documentation that will be accepted. The form must be completed in full. The medical documentation must establish that the student was examined and diagnosed at the time of illness, not after the fact.  Where there is a death in the family, the required documentation is a death certificate, obituary, or funeral program.

  5. If the exam deferral request is approved by the SAC, the student is expected to write during the relevant deferred exam writing period (for December exams this period will be in January; for April exams this period will be in May; see Sessional Dates on the Faculty of Law website for the specific deferred exam writing periods each year). Requests to write exams on earlier times/dates will not be considered.

  6. Requests for exam deferrals for religious observance:

    If an exam falls on a religious holiday, a student may request an exam deferral.  A student will not receive a deferral where a religious holiday falls before a scheduled exam or during the exam period without directly conflicting with the scheduled exam. With the benefit of advance notice regarding exam schedules and religious holidays, students are expected to make the necessary adjustments to their study schedules in order to be able to observe a religious holiday before and during the exam period.

    To request an exam deferral for an exam that directly conflicts with a religious holiday, a student must fill out the Faculty of Law Accommodation Request Form and submit it to the accommodations.law@utoronto.ca before the end of September (1st term exam) or the end of January (2nd term exam). 

III.    Requests for paper or assignment extensions

Outside the context of students with chronic illness and ongoing disabilities handled by Accessibility Services, with the benefit of advance notification of paper or assignment due dates, students are expected to schedule their time with consideration given to the possibility that they may become ill or other extraordinary circumstances may arise. Paper/assignment extensions are provided only when students are unable to meet the original deadline.  Any extension granted will be proportionate to the delay caused by the problem that prevented the student from completing the assignment on time, e.g., a 1-week extension will typically be granted for a 1-week illness. The Faculty expects students to prioritize completion of their overdue academic work.

  1. Examples of reasons for which paper or assignment extensions will normally be granted:
    • Illness or injury having a significant impact on academic performance, with supporting documentation.
    • The serious illness of a person in the immediate family which requires a student to take on significant caregiving responsibilities. Documentation from the immediate family member’s physician is required.
    • There are two categories of bereavement leave.  A student may request a deferral to attend a religious or other memorial service.  A student who suffers the loss of a person to whom he or she is extremely close, e.g., a member of his or her immediate family, may find that more extensive accommodations are necessary.  In some cases students may be asked to submit appropriate documentation.
    • Accident, victim of crime, sudden loss of housing, or similar traumatic experience that interferes with exam preparation. A police report, or similar documentation, is required.
    • Delivery of a child (both parents).
    • Due date falls on or after a religious holiday in circumstances in which limited notice of the deadline was given and a student’s ability to meet the deadline is thereby unreasonably compromised. 
    • Such other extraordinary circumstances as deemed appropriate by the SAC.

  2. Examples of reasons for which paper/assignment extensions will not normally be granted:
    • Employment reasons.
    • Travel/vacation/social plans, including weddings.
    • Airline flights and schedules.
    • Other assignments due on or around the same due date.
    • Common printer or computer problems, including computer crashes, coffee spilled on laptops, lost files, etc. (Among other things, students are expected to continuously back up their work.)
    • Common commuting issues including parking, traffic and transit problems.
    • Due date falls on or after a religious holiday where reasonable notice of the deadline was given and the student’s ability to meet the deadline is not unreasonably compromised.

  3. Procedures:

    1. Requests for paper or assignment extensions due to illness or other extraordinary circumstances:

      Students who are unable to meet a paper or assignment deadline due to illness or other extraordinary circumstances must make all reasonable efforts to notify the Assistant Dean, J.D. Program and/or the Records Office before the original deadline. To request a paper or assignment extension, students must fill out the Faculty of Law Accommodation Request Form, attach the relevant documentation, and submit it to accommodations.law@utoronto.ca.  Students must submit the form and all documentation as soon as is reasonably practicable. In most cases, this will be within a week of the original deadline. If the documentation is not submitted as soon as is reasonably practicable (and barring exceptional circumstances), the request will be rejected.

      If a student receives a paper or assignment extensions and is unable to meet the deadline, a new extension request must be made and updated medical or other relevant documentation provided.

      The medical documentation must be written by a physician, surgeon, nurse practitioner, registered psychologist, dentist or other medical practitioner. The University of Toronto Verification of Student Illness or Injury Form is the only medical documentation that will be accepted. The form must be completed in full.

      The medical documentation must establish that the student was examined and diagnosed at the time of illness, not after the fact.
      The documentation must show the dates of the medical problem. Even when a condition is chronic, students must have a recent completed Verification form that specifically covers the relevant portion of the term. For non-medical issues, documentation should be on official letterhead from an independent professional not related to the student. Where there is a serious illness that affects an immediate family member, the required documentation is a medical note from the family member’s physician.

    2. Where there is a death in the family, the required documentation is a death certificate, obituary, or funeral program. In circumstances where a death in the family leads to a lengthy bereavement period, a Verification of Student Illness or Injury Form is required.

      While waiting for a response to a petition, students are expected to be working on the assignment as soon as they are able, i.e., students should not wait for approval before starting back to work on the assignment.

IV.   Appealing a Decision of the Student Accommodations Committee

A decision of the SAC may be appealed directly to the Academic Standing Committee (see Appeals on the Faculty of Law website). The appeal must be submitted to the Associate Dean within 15 days of the decision of the SAC.

Withdrawal and Student Accounts

In some circumstances, the only viable accommodation may be permission to withdraw from courses, either by dropping from full time to half-time status or by withdrawing from the term all together.  There are three dates relevant to withdrawal from courses in each term. During the Fall term, November 1st is the last day upon which students can petition for a full refund of their tuition; during the Winter term, the last day is March 1st.  After the last day of class of each term, a student can request a 50% refund of tuition fees.  The Faculty will only consider a late withdrawal after December 1st or April 1st when an unforeseen event occurs which prevents a student from completing a course.

Leaves of Absence

Students who miss more than three weeks of class should ask for a leave of absence.  When appropriate, the Accommodations Committee may require students with significant absences to take a leave of absence.   Students struggling with inability to submit work for any significant period of time should make an appointment with the Assistant Dean, J.D. Program to discuss a petition for a leave of absence.