University Policy


Accessibility for Students with Disabilities

Approval Date: 2017-12-07

Effective Date: 2018-01-01

Review Date: 2021-12-07


Deputy Provost (Students) and Associate Vice-President (Academic) Undergraduate Studies - St. John's campus; Associate Vice-President, Academic and Student Affairs (Marine Institute); and Vice-President (Grenfell Campus).


To establish principles, guidelines and responsibilities that:

  • respect access to University services, facilities and housing for students with disabilities in accordance with the Human Rights Act, 2010,
  • where possible, incorporate Universal Design for learning, and
  • acknowledge that many barriers to full participation reside in the environment (physical, curricular, attitudinal, informational, etc.).


All University students who are registered in credit or non-credit courses, and/or programs, who are participating in University events, or activities, and who have self-identified and have been documented as having a Disability, and all applicants for admission to programs at the University and those who are in the process of applying.


Academic Integrity — Demonstration of acquisition of a body of knowledge or the skill normally required for passing a course and/or completing a course or program as determined by the Instructor and/or the Unit and subject to University regulations.

Accessibility — Refers to the degree to which university environments, facilities, procedures and teaching and learning materials afford the opportunity for all students to acquire the information or engage in the interactions and services of the University, with or without adaptation or special design.

Accommodation — A change to teaching or evaluation procedures, which is designed to accommodate the particular needs of a student with a Disability without compromising the Academic Integrity of the course, program, or assignment; or a change to University activities and supports which is designed to accommodate the particular needs of a student with a disability. See Examples of Academic Accommodations.

Disability — As per The Act, section 2(c) means one or more of the following conditions:

  1. degree of physical disability;
  2. condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability;
  3. learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or language; and,
  4. mental disorder.

Instructors — Persons appointed by the University to teach or supervise students who are registered in or auditing Memorial University credit or non-credit courses or programs.

The Act — Human Rights Act, 2010

Unit — Includes academic, academic support and administrative units which are engaged in the delivery of courses, programs, housing, services or in support of the delivery of courses, programs and services.

Unit Head — Refers to Deans; Academic, non-Academic and Administrative Directors; Division Heads; School Heads; Executive Directors; the University Librarian; the University Registrar; Associate Vice-Presidents and the Vice-Presidents, as applicable to the circumstance.

Universal Design for Learning — Education framework that guides the development of flexible learning environments that can accommodate individual learning differences.

University — Memorial University of Newfoundland.


1.0 General and Legal Framework

1.1 In keeping with its Core Values, particularly those of responsibility to learners and inclusiveness and diversity, the University is committed to ensuring an environment of understanding and respect for the dignity and worth of each student and also to supporting inclusive education based on the principles of equity, accessibility and collaboration.

1.2 This policy derives from The Act which:

  • is premised on the principle of equality of every individual in dignity and rights;
  • provides for equal rights and opportunities without discrimination; and,
  • strives for a climate of understanding and mutual respect for the dignity and worth of each person.

The Act prohibits discrimination on a number of grounds including Disability. The University prohibits discrimination on the grounds of a Disability in accordance with The Act.

2.0 Accommodation and Undue Hardship

2.1 The University has a responsibility to provide Accommodation to those students with Disabilities within the scope of this policy. The responsibility is shared with students and is based on communication and mutual respect for each party's obligations. The goal of Accommodation in an academic setting is not to lower or diminish academic standards but to enable students to meet the standards.

2.2 The obligation of the University is to provide reasonable Accommodation up to the point of undue hardship. This means some hardship may be required. The onus is on the University to demonstrate that it will suffer undue hardship if an Accommodation is granted.

2.3 Undue hardship must be considered in the context of each request for Accommodation. Factors in determining whether undue hardship exists will include:

(i) risk to public safety or a substantial risk of personal injury;
(ii) financial cost; significant costs related to a requested Accommodation shall be considered in the context of the University as a whole, not on the basis of a Unit;
(iii) the Accommodation unreasonably impedes the ability of other students to pursue their studies; or,
(iv) when Accommodation alternatives would result either in lowering academic standards or requiring substantial alteration of essential course or program requirements, of facilities, of University activities or events or of delivery methods.

3.0 Designation of Campus Co-ordinating Centres

3.1 The University has designated the following co-ordinating centres to facilitate and promote an accessible learning environment for students with Disabilities:

For University locations other than the campuses noted here, the coordinating centre at the campus offering the course, program, activity or support, will co-ordinate any Accommodations.

3.2 The campus coordinating centres have a responsibility to review documentation to ensure that recommendations and decisions about Accommodations are based on appropriate medical and/or psycho-educational information and assessment in accordance with the Procedure for Documentation Regarding a Student's Accommodation Request.

3.3 In collaboration with the University community, the co-ordinating centres shall promote awareness and provide advice, information and assistance with respect to the provision of Accommodations for students with Disabilities. This includes the provision of training and education to Instructors, staff, administrators, and any committee dealing with Accommodation issues so they are knowledgeable about relevant University policies and procedures and are familiar with broader ethical and legal issues regarding persons with Disabilities.

3.4 The coordination centres shall be the official custodian of records created in the provision of Accommodations and shall manage those records in accordance with the University’s Information Management policy.

3.5 The Examples of Academic Accommodations  and the Guidelines for Accommodations resource documents are available to assist in the role of training and education. The coordinating centres are authorized to update these, following a collaborative review of them, annually or as needed.

3.6 Annually, the campus co-ordinating centres shall review the related Procedures of this policy and bring forward any recommendations for revision.

3.7 There shall be committees who provide advice to the University on matters relating to students with disabilities. (See Related Documents) 

4.0 Responsibilities of the University toward Students with Disabilities

The campus co-ordinating centres and the Unit(s) have a shared responsibility to cooperatively facilitate the provision of Accommodation to students which includes the responsibility to:

4.1 Provide each student who self-identifies with a Disability, information and guidance about the specific services and Accommodations available at the respective campus and make referrals to additional services or agencies at the University and/or external to the University. With certain Disabilities, students may lack the requisite knowledge and/or insight to disclose their need for Accommodation. In such situations, it is important to seek advice on how to address this issue. In most circumstances, such advice and information is provided by the appropriate campus co-ordinating centre.

4.2 Provide qualified applicants consideration for admission to the University without discrimination. Admission to the University does not in and of itself guarantee that Accommodation for Disability will be made. Certain courses and programs require physical fitness, agility or technical standards for either admission or completion. The nature and degree of a particular Disability may mean that no reasonable accommodation would enable a student to meet the requirement of the course or program of study. It is incumbent upon Units to determine whether or not a reasonable Accommodation can be made. Reasonable options for Accommodation must be thoroughly considered before a decision regarding admission or completion is made.

4.3 Provide its services, including courses and programs, housing and facilities, accessible to students with Disabilities up to the point of undue hardship.

4.4 Ensure an environment that is diverse, inclusive and accessible to all. In order to ensure physical accessibility is included in designing new space, renovating existing space, and managing facility accessibility, collaboration is required among the campus coordinating centres, the campus facilities management and the Unit(s). See also, the Building Accessibility Act and the University’s Capital Projects policy. Units shall strive for content accessibility in web, digital and online tools and solutions. See also the IT Investment policy (in development).

4.5 Provide Accommodation up to the point of undue hardship without compromising the Academic Integrity of the course, program, or assignment where the accommodation reached is on academic grounds.

4.6 Provide guidance and assistance to students who are engaging in or engaged in Memorial University's courses or programs off campus.

4.7 Handle all information about a student's Disability as confidential and in accordance with the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 2015, SNL 2015, C A-1.2 (ATIPPA), other privacy legislation to which the University is subject and University policies. A breach of confidentiality by persons involved in any process related to this Policy may be subject to discipline or other appropriate action. The University needs sufficient information to reasonably evaluate and respond to a student's request for Accommodation as follows:

i. The Accommodation process may require that the student, and/or the appropriate campus co-ordinating centre, with the student's knowledge and written consent, disclose sufficient information about the nature of the student’s Disability to staff and faculty beyond the campus co-ordinating centre on the basis that they have a bona fide need to know this information to consider and implement Accommodation requests.

ii. Confidentiality may not apply to persons subject to extra-University judicial processes, or where disclosure is permitted or required by law, or where the well-being, safety and security of a person or persons is a concern.  In such circumstances, information, as appropriate, would only be shared with those with a bona fide need to know.

iii. When a student has been inactive at the University for more than three years, all documentation with respect to accommodation held by the appropriate campus co-ordinating centre(s) will be destroyed.

4.8 Inform those providing accommodation (including Instructors, staff, administrators and members of various committees) of the duty to accommodate students with Disabilities.

5.0 Responsibilities of Students with Disabilities

5.1 Each student who seeks Accommodation must:

i. self-identify in accordance with the Procedure for Arranging Student Accommodation;

ii. collect and retain a copy of the necessary medical and/or psycho-educational information and assessments for submission to the applicable campus co-ordinating centre(s);

iii. provide requests for Accommodation in a timely manner. Failure to disclose in accordance with the Procedure for Arranging Student Accommodation may result in delays in assessing the request and/or in providing any Accommodation;

iv. ensure the request for Accommodation or for a change in Accommodation needs is brought to the attention of those providing accommodations. See the Procedure for Arranging Student Accommodation;

v. cooperate with the University in exploring reasonable possibilities and options for Accommodations; and,

vi. where potential funding sources from outside the University exist, pursue any such eligible funding. Students are advised to consult with the appropriate campus co-ordinating centre if they require assistance identifying potential funding sources.

6.0 Institutional Standards

6.1 Students must meet any established institutional standards in accordance with course and program requirements.

6.2 The University must ensure that essential academic, technical, and/or physical standards are not lowered or compromised. These standards refer to the knowledge and skills which must be acquired or demonstrated in order for the student to successfully meet the learning objectives of the course or program of study.

6.3 Any student with a Disability who has been reasonably accommodated and who does not meet the established academic, technical and/or physical standards may be denied admission to a course or program of study, or once in the program, may be denied continued participation or successful completion, in the same manner that any other student would be. 

Related Documents

Human Rights Act, 2010
United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
Examples of Academic Accommodations
Guidelines for Accommodations
University Calendar
Marine Institute Calendar
Privacy policy
Information Request policy
Terms of Reference of the Advisory Committee on Students with Disabilities – St. John’s area
Terms of Reference of the Advisory Committee on Students with Disabilities – Corner Brook area


For inquiries related to this policy:

Glenn Roy Blundon Centre – Office of the Deputy Provost (Students) and Vice-President (Academic) Undergraduate Studies.  E-mail: Phone: 864-2156 (voice) or 864-4763 (TTY)



Deputy Provost (Students)


Human Rights

Previous Versions:

There is at least one previous version of this policy. Contact the Policy Office to view earlier version(s)

Approval Date: 2013-07-04
Effective Date: 2013-07-04
Approval Date: 2006-07-20
Effective Date: 2013-04-09
Approval Date: 2006-07-20
Effective Date: 2006-07-20
Policy Amendment History

There are past amendments for this policy:

Date: 2019-04-18 12:09:26
This policy was replaced with a new version. Comment provided: To update the category from "Student Life" to "Human Rights" as detailed in email in the resource account.
Date: 2019-05-23 14:37:46
This policy was replaced with a new version. Comment provided: Connected definitions using the definitions from the glossary.
Date: 2022-03-21 14:13:48
This policy was replaced with a new version. Comment provided: Links updated
Date: 2022-08-24 13:26:27
This policy was replaced with a new version. Comment provided: fixing broken link
Date: 2022-08-24 14:50:25
This policy was replaced with a new version. Comment provided: updated broken links