Academic Accommodations and Considerations Policy

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1. Introduction

a) General principles

b) Accommodation decision-making process

2. Ongoing accommodations - Students who require accommodations due to ongoing illness and/or disability (e.g. learning disabilities, physical disabilities, mental illnesses, physical illnesses, etc.).

a) Key contact information

b) Accessibility Services at the University of Toronto

c) Registering with Accessibility Services

d) Decision-making

e) Working with your Accessibility Advisor and the Faculty of Law

f) Steps to take when requesting a paper extension

g) Steps to take when requesting an exam deferral

3. Occasional considerations - Students who are not registered with Accessibility Services and require consideration a one-off circumstances and unforeseen illness, e.g. death in the family, housing emergency, unexpected illness (serious cold/flu), etc.

a) Key contacts 

b Decision-making 

c) Paper or assignment extensions

d) Paper deferrals

e) Exam deferrals

f) Requesting an exam deferral

4. Students who require a consideration for religious observance

a) Policy regarding consideration for religious observance

b) Students who require an consideration for religious observance - Requesting an exam deferral

c) Considerations Based on Religious Observances

d) Exam Consideration for Students Observing Ramadan

 5. Moving to half-time studies 

a) Circumstances in which moving to half-time might be appropriate

b) Making a request to move to half-time studies

c) Impact on fees

6. Leaves of absence

a) Circumstances in which taking a leave of absence might be appropriate

b) Making a request to take a leave of absence

c) Impact on fees


 1. Introduction 

The Faculty of Law’s Accommodations and Considerations Policy sets out the conditions and procedures for requesting and obtaining academic accommodations and considerations. These accommodations and considerations include exam deferrals and extensions for other academic work such as papers and assignments.  Students may request advice about accommodations and considerations from the Assistant Dean, J.D. Program and the Student Mental Health & Wellness Program Manager.

 a)  General principles

  • In the interest of fairness and equity among students and to protect academic integrity, accommodations and considerations must be consistent with the Faculty of Law’s academic policies.
  • It is the obligation of students in need of accommodation or consideration to identify their needs and request an accommodation or consideration in a timely fashion. 
  • Students shall not contact their instructors to request or discuss 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. 
  • While the Accommodations and Considerations Committee may consider post hoc requests for accommodations and considerations, students must make every effort to arrange accommodations and considerations in advance of due dates.  Retroactive requests must include an explanation for why the request could not be made in advance of the deadline, accompanied by appropriate documentation.  Students who make post hoc requests without a valid reason may be subject to the ordinary academic penalties.
  • In all cases, accommodations and considerations require supporting documentation. In keeping with the University of Toronto’s policy on scheduling of classes and examinations and other considerations for religious observances, notes are not required to support requests for religious considerations. 
  • Where an accommodation or consideration is in place, students are expected to prioritize the completion of outstanding academic work over non-academic obligations.  
  • Considerations will not be granted to enable students to fulfill outside obligations during the academic term, including travel, family events, employment, etc.
  • Students with unfinished courses in a term must complete that work before commencing the next term.  Courses should be completed within one year of their first class meeting, and must be completed within one year of their ending.

b) Accommodation and Consideration decision-making process 

Accommodations and Considerations Committee: The Accommodations and Consideration Committee confirms that accommodation requests are consistent with the Faculty's academic policies, and determines all requests for consideration. This includes occasional accommodation requests that students submit directly to the law school.

Appealing a decision of the Accommodations and Considerations Committee: A decision of the Accommodations and Consideration  Committee 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 Committee.

 

2. Ongoing accommodations - Students who require accommodations due to ongoing illness and/or disability (e.g. learning disabilities, physical disabilities, mental illnesses, physical illnesses, etc.).

 a) Key contact information

•Questions about registering for ongoing accommodations? Contact terry.gardiner@utoronto.ca

•Questions about your accommodations through Accessibility Services? Contact your Accessibility Advisor.

•Accessibility Services:  https://studentlife.utoronto.ca/department/accessibility-services/

b) Ongoing accommodations - Accessibility Services at the University of Toronto 

Students with illnesses and/or disabilities that require ongoing accommodation must register with Accessibility Services.  Students will be assigned to an Accessibility Advisor who will work closely with them to develop a set of recommended accommodations. Accessibility Advisors can also work with students to make additional accommodation requests beyond their standard accommodations, when necessary. 

Each term, Accessibility Services will document all recommended accommodations in course-specific letters. Students are required to forward copies of these letters to the Student Accommodations Committee at accommodations.law@utoronto.ca

c) Ongoing accommodations - Registering with Accessibility Services

It is important that students register with Accessibility Services well before term starts. The registration process may take a significant length of time, depending on the complexity of the student’s circumstances and required documentation. 

We recommend that incoming 1L students and upper year transfer students connect with Accessibility Services by early summer.  Returning students must renew their accommodations prior to each academic year. 

The Accessibility Services registration page has more information about the registration process, required documentation and important deadlines. 

d) Ongoing accommodations – Decision-making

The Accommodations and Considerations Committee reviews accommodations recommended by Accessibility Services to ensure that they are consistent with the Faculty of Law’s academic policies, and works with the Accessibility Services Counselor and students to determine an appropriate accommodation.

e) Ongoing accommodations - Working with Accessibility Advisors

The Faculty of Law works very closely with Accessibility Services to support accommodated students. 

For students who are accommodated through Accessibility Services, their main contact about their accessibility needs and accommodations is their Accessibility Advisor. The Advisor will determine the appropriate accommodations, prepare accommodation letters, and make any necessary adjustments. 

Once a student’s accommodations are in place, it is their responsibility to communicate directly with the Faculty of Law when they require accommodations. For example, if a student requires a paper extension in a course where paper extensions are a recommended accommodation, they are required to contact the Student Accommodation Committee directly to request the extension on a specific paper (see below for more details).  The Records Office cannot waive late penalties or schedule deferred exams if they are not aware of an accommodation.  

f) Ongoing accommodations – Steps to take when requesting a paper extension

  • Determine the length of the required extension, up to a maximum of 7 calendar days. 
  • Email the Student Accommodation Committee at accommodations.law@utoronto.ca and include the following information: 

Your name:

Your pseudonym:

Title of Course:

Course and Section number:

Instructor:

Title of assignment or exam:

Original due date and time of assignment:

Length of requested extension, up to 7 calendar days: 

The Accommodations and Considerations Committee will respond with an email confirming the new deadline for the paper, and will communicate this information to the Records office. 

g) Ongoing accommodations – Steps to take when requesting an exam deferral

If a student is registered for exam accommodations with Accessibility Services, and finds that they are unable to write the exam as scheduled due to their accessibility needs, they should send an email before the exam is scheduled to begin to the  Accommodations and Considerations Committee at accommodations.law@utoronto.ca, and the Records office at records.law@utoronto.ca, copying their Accessibility Advisor, to request an exam deferral.   

Please include the following information in your email:   

  • Name 
  • Pseudonym 
  • Title of Course 
  • Course and Section number 
  • Instructor 
  • Exam date and time

The Student Accommodations Committee will respond with an email confirming the deferred exam date, and will communicate this information to the Records office.    The Records Office cannot schedule and administer a deferred exam if they are unaware of the deferral.

Sharing information with Accessibility Services: 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.  

Sharing information with the Records Office: When students have timing related accommodations (e.g., time-of-day or day spacing accommodations) they must contact the Records Office directly to reschedule their exams.  The Records office cannot change the time of an exam if they are unaware of the change in timing.

Missing the deadline to register for exam accommodations: 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 Student Accommodations Committee. 

3. Occasional considerations- Students who are not registered with Accessibility Services and require considerations due to one-off circumstances and unforeseen illness, e.g. death in the family, housing emergency, unexpected illness (serious cold/flu), etc. 

 a)  Key contacts 

Questions about occasional considerations: 

Acting Assistant Dean, J.D. Program: brittany.twiss@utoronto.ca

Student Mental Health & Wellness Program Manager: ca.white@utoronto.ca

Accommodations and Considerations Committee: accommodations.law@utoronto.ca

b) Occasional Considerations- Decision-making 

The Accommodations and Considerations Committee handles individual requests for occasional considerations that arise due to short term events such as a death in the family, illness, or other problems that pose an obstacle to completing academic work.  In order to maintain anonymity and ensure consistency in decisions, students should not submit consideration requests to individual faculty members. Instructors who receive consideration requests must refer students to the Assistant Dean, J.D. Program.

c)  Occasional considerations – Paper or assignment extensions

General principles: With the benefit of advance notification of paper or assignment due dates, students are expected to schedule their academic work considering the possibility that they may become ill or other extraordinary circumstances may arise. Any extension granted will be proportionate to the delay caused by the problem that prevented the student from completing the assignment on time; for example, 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.

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 they are extremely close, e.g., a member of their immediate family, may require extensive consideration.  In some cases students may be asked to submit appropriate documentation.
  • Traumatic experiences, such as being in an accident, being a victim of crime, the sudden loss of housing, or similar experience that interferes with completing a paper. A police report, or similar documentation, is required.
  • Delivery/arrival of a child (both parents).
  • Illness of a child.
  • Paper or assignment due date falls on or after a religious holiday in circumstances where limited notice of the deadline was given and a student’s ability to meet the deadline is unreasonably compromised as a result. 
  • Such other extraordinary circumstances as deemed appropriate by the Accommodations and Consideration Committee.

Examples of reasons for which paper or 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. Students are expected to continuously back up their work.
  • Common commuting issues including parking, traffic and transit problems.
  • Paper or assignment 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.

d) Occasional considerations– Making a request for a paper deferral

Timing: Students must submit the Request for Accommodation 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 declined.

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

Documentation: The medical documentation must be written by a physician, surgeon, nurse practitioner, registered psychologist, dentist or other medical practitioner. The 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.

e) Occasional considerations - Exam deferrals

General principles: The Faculty expects students to prepare for and make themselves available to write all exams as scheduled. Only a small number of emergencies should 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, they should still be sufficiently prepared to write.

Exams are deferred only when a student is unable to write them. When reviewing a petition for deferral, the question the Accommodations and Considerations Committee will consider is not, “Are these the optimal conditions for the student to write this exam?” but instead “Is the student so incapacitated they cannot write this exam?”

Minor delays before exam starts: 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 scheduled examination room and follow the invigilator’s instructions.  Students who are more than 20 minutes late should go directly to the Records Office where 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, they will be asked to take the exam in the scheduled exam room, but the new exam time will 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.

Requesting an exam deferral before the scheduled start time: Students who are ill or have a significant emergency that prevents them from attending an exam should request permission to defer writing the exam.    

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 they are extremely close, e.g., a member of their immediate family, may require extensive considerations.  In some cases students may be asked to submit appropriate documentation.
  • Traumatic experiences, such as being in an accident, being a victim of crime, the sudden loss of housing, or similar experience that interferes with completing a paper. A police report, or similar documentation, is required.
  • Delivery/arrival of a child (both parents).
  • An exam falls on a religious holiday (see below). 
  • Such other extraordinary circumstances as deemed appropriate by the Accommodations and Considerations Committee.

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. 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.

f)  Occasional considerations– Making a request for an exam deferral

Documentation: Medical documentation must be written by a physician, surgeon, nurse practitioner, registered psychologist, dentist or other medical practitioner. The  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.

Exam deferral period: If the exam deferral request is approved by the Accommodations and Consideration Committee, 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.

4.   Students who require a consideration for religious observance

 a) Policy regarding consideration for religious observance

It is the policy of the University of Toronto to allow reasonable consideration of the needs of students who observe religious holy days other than those already accommodated by ordinary scheduling and statutory holidays.

For the full text of the policy, please see the Provost's web pages. 

b) Students who require a  consideration for religious observance - Requesting an exam deferral

General principle: 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. 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. 

To request an exam deferral for an exam that directly conflicts with a religious holiday, please:

c) Considerations Based on Religious Observances

The Faculty of Law follows the University's Policy on Religious Observances on all requests from students for considerations with respect to observances of religious holy days. This policy includes avoiding scheduling exams on religious holidays, and, in cases where there is an unavoidable conflict, exam deferrals to write at an alternate time.

Paper extensions are less frequently allowed, since students are expected to plan around foreseeable conflicts. However, when there is a short time between the distribution of an assignment, and that assignment's due date, limited extensions may be given. Faculty, staff, and students planning events and classes can check upcoming religious observance dates here.

Students with requests for deferrals based on religious observance should submit them to the Faculty of Law's Accommodations and Considerations Committee before the end of the first month of the term, or as soon as they are informed of the exam date if it is later than that. Please see details about the process below.

d) Exam Consideration for Students Observing Ramadan

Ramadan, the month of prayer and fasting observed by Muslims worldwide, sometimes overlaps with the final exam period in the Winter term. The Faculty of Law will grant deferrals to write exams at alternate times to students who do not wish to write during Ramadan. Students with afternoon exams can ask to have their exams moved to an earlier time-slot on a subsequent day. Students who wish to defer all exams until their religious observance is completed may do so. Students should submit requests for a consideration by the end of the first month of the term.

Fasting students may request to be seated in an exam space that disallows food and drink.

Students who may request other supports, as needed, through the accommodations.law.utoronto.ca email address. They may also seek support from the University's Muslim Chaplaincy.

If you have questions about considerations for religious observances, please reach out to the Accommodations and Consideration Committee at your earliest opportunity.

5.  Moving to half-time studies 

a)  Circumstances in which moving to half-time might be appropriate

Students may experience illness or other circumstances that prevent them from being able to complete a full course load. In those circumstances, students may request an accommodation or consideration to reduce their course load by 50% (6-8 credits per term). 

b)  Making a request to move to half-time studies

Students should email the Acting Assistant Dean, J.D. Program at brittany.twiss@utoronto.ca to schedule a meeting to discuss their options. Students must also submit a written request with supporting documentation to the Accommodations and Consideratins Committee at accommodations.law@utoronto.ca

c) Half-time studies – Impact on fees

Students who receive an accommodation or consideration to move to the half-time program will receive a reversal of 50% of their tuition the term(s) in which they are half-time if they do so before the add/drop deadline.  Students may be able to receive a reversal one-time only if they move to the half-time program after the add/drop deadline. The law school is unable to reverse student fees. 

6.  Leaves of absence

a) Circumstances in which taking a leave of absence might be appropriate

There are many circumstances that may arise in a student’s life that may require them to take a leave of absence from their studies. 

Students who miss more than three weeks of class should ask for a leave of absence.  When appropriate, the Accommodations and Considerations Committee may require students with significant absences to take a leave of absence.  

b)  Making a request to take a leave of absence

Students should email the Acting Assistant Dean, J.D. Program at brittany.twiss@utoronto.ca to schedule a meeting to discuss their options. Students must also submit a written request with supporting documentation to the  Accommodations and Consideration Committee at accommodations.law@utoronto.ca

c) Leaves of absence – Impact on fees

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 Fall term tuition; during the Winter term, the last day is March 1st for a full refund of the Winter term tuition.  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 request after December 1st or April 1st when an unforeseen event occurs which prevents a student from completing the term.