Duty to Accommodate

The duty to accommodate persons with disabilities means accommodation must be provided in a manner that most respects the dignity of the person, if to do so does not create undue hardship. Dignity includes consideration of how accommodation is provided and the individual’s own participation in the process.

Human dignity encompasses individual self-respect and self-worth. It is concerned with physical and psychological integrity and empowerment. It is harmed when people are marginalized, stigmatized, ignored or devalued. Privacy, confidentiality, comfort, autonomy, individuality and self-esteem are important factors as well to show whether an accommodation maximizes integration and promotes full participation in society. Different ways of accommodating the needs of persons with disabilities should be considered along a continuum from those ways that are most respectful of privacy, autonomy, integration and other human values, to those that are least respectful of those values.

Post‐secondary education is the gateway to the workplace and community for most Canadians. It is essential that post‐secondary education be accessible to all members of our community, including persons with disabilities. Historically, persons with disabilities have not been able to participate fully in post‐secondary education. The method for ensuring that persons with disabilities have equal access to post‐secondary education is through a process called accommodation.

Accommodation is the process of making alterations to the delivery of services so that those services become accessible to more people, including persons with disabilities. Accommodation has allowed many talented persons with disabilities to make major contributions to life in Canada and around the world.

Accommodation does not:

  1. require that post‐secondary institutions lower academic or non‐academic standards to accommodate students with disabilities.

  2. relieve the student of the responsibility to develop the essential skills and competencies expected of all students.

Physical and mental disabilities include but are not limited to:
  • hearing disabilities
  • mobility disabilities
  • psychological and psychiatric disabilities
  • vision disabilities
  • learning disabilities
  • neurological disabilities
  • disabilities related to chronic health problems
  • disabilities as a result of serious illnesses such as cancer
  • developmental disabilities

Illnesses that are transitory in nature may also be considered to be disabilities if they:

  • are chronic (for example, a thyroid condition that is chronic and life‐long in nature) or
  • are recurring (for example, seasonal allergies that recur every May and June) or
  • impact a person’s ability to carry out life’s functions (for example, a foot that requires a walking cast for one month).

For more information please visit the Duty to Accommodate Bulletin