7 Accessibility and Accommodations

McMaster University is committed to creating accessible teaching and learning environments where students, faculty, teaching assistants, and staff can access all university classes, resources, and experiences at the time that they are needed and without encountering unnecessary barriers. All teaching staff are encouraged to apply the principles of universal design to curriculum development, instruction, and assessment. You may wish to consult the FLEX Forward Teaching and Learning Resource for more information on universal design and accessible education, or to attend a seminar or consultation on accessibility at the MacPherson Institute. It is also important to note that if you require an accommodation yourself, you can reach out to Employee-Labour Relations or CUPE 3906, depending on your employee group.

Regardless of what program you are teaching in or what class size you may have, it is likely that you will receive formal accommodation requests through Student Accessibility Services (SAS). Accommodation is a process that is formally triggered when SAS identifies a barrier that may negatively affect a student’s ability to achieve learning outcomes. Common accommodations include additional time for assessments and the use of a note taker. As an instructor, you are obliged to fulfill the accommodation but are not entitled to know why the student has an accommodation in the first place. You can find more information about SAS policies and procedures, including a useful document called the Yellow File, on the instructors portion of the SAS website and in the Academic Accommodations of Students with Disabilities policy.

Students may also approach you about accommodations independently of Student Accessibility Services. For example, a student may indicate that a significant personal issue is preventing them from completing their assignments on time, or that they have a religious, spiritual, or Indigenous observance. For one-time academic accommodations you are encouraged to use your discretion. For formal requests for religious, spiritual, or Indigenous observances, you are required to abide by the Academic Accommodations for Religious, Indigenous, or Spiritual Observances policy.


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The New Instructor Handbook by The MacPherson Institute is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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