Legal Issues & Disability
In Ontario, the Human Rights Code provides individuals with disabilities with the right to equal treatment with respect to services and facilities (including educational institutions) without discrimination.
Who is covered under the law?
As per the Human Rights Code, a person with a disability is any person who has or has had or is believed to have or have had:
- any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, including diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device,
- a condition of mental retardation or impairment,
- a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language,
- a mental disorder, or
- any injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997.
A qualified student with a disability is defined as one who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in the education, program, or activity. In postsecondary education, a qualified student with a disability is one who can meet the admission requirements for both the university and the specific program of study which he/she wishes to pursue.
In addition, a qualified student with a disability must:
- identify his/her disability and needs to the office on campus that coordinates services for students with disabilities. At Niagara University, this office is Accessibility Services.
- answer questions and provide adequate documentation of disability that details relevant restrictions or limitations, including information from health care professionals.
- participate in discussions regarding possible accommodation solutions and cooperate with Accessibility Services.
- meet essential academic requirements.
Niagara University's Non-discrimination Statement
It is Niagara University's policy that no otherwise qualified person, with a disability, be excluded from participating in any University program or activity, be denied the benefits of any university program or activity, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination with regard to any University program or activity. "Program or activity" refers to any credit or non-credit program or activity sponsored by Niagara University.
An otherwise qualified person with a disability must be ensured the same access to programs, opportunities, and activities at the university as are all others. Existing barriers, whether physical, programmatic or attitudinal must be removed. There must be ongoing vigilance to ensure that new barriers are not erected.
The university's efforts to accommodate people with disabilities must be measured against the goal of full participation and integration. Services and programs to promote these benefits for people with disabilities shall complement and support the university's regular services and programs.
The university will continue to strive to achieve excellence in its services and to ensure that its services are delivered equitably and efficiently to all of its member community.
Student Rights and Responsibilities
Every otherwise qualified student with a documented disability has the right to:
- Equal access to courses, programs, services, events, jobs, offices, student club activities, facilities, equipment, honors, meeting places, and transportation available through the university.
- Reasonable and appropriate accommodations, adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids determined by the university on a case-by-case and/or course-by-course basis.
- Appropriate confidentiality of all information pertaining to the disability with the choice of whom to disclose the disability to, except as needed to implement an accommodation or for purposes of health/safety, as required by law. A student can expect the following in order to expedite provision of service:
- Information reasonably available in accessible formats.
- a. As needed, university service providers will meet to discuss and determine reasonable accommodations, adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids and services based on information and documentation provided by the student.
b. Administrative and academic personnel will be provided with information as deemed necessary in order to assure the student's timely access to programs and services.
Every otherwise qualified student with a disability has the responsibility to:
- Meet the university's qualifications and essential technical, academic, and institutional
standards, including code of conduct.
- Identify him/herself in a timely manner as an individual with a disability when requesting
protection from discrimination or accommodation from the coordinator of accessibility
services and/or other Service Providers (see page 3).
- Provide documentation from a qualified source that verifies the nature of the disability,
functional limitations, and the need, if any for specific accommodations (see
Documentation Guidelines, page 12 and following). The student is responsible for the
costs associated with obtaining documentation.
- Follow specific procedures for obtaining reasonable and appropriate accommodations,
adjustments, auxiliary aids, and/or protection from discrimination, and cooperate with
university personnel in developing reasonable accommodations or response to
concerns. This includes completing the Disability Services Intake Form each semester
(see page 39-40 in the Appendix).
University Rights and Responsibilities
Niagara University has the right to:
- Maintain the University standards.
- Deny a request for accommodations, adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids if a) the documentation does not identify a specific disability, b) the documentation fails to verify the need for the requested services, and/or c) the documentation is not provided in a timely manner (see Documentation Guidelines, page 12 and following).
- Refuse to provide an accommodation, adjustment, and/or auxiliary aid that is inappropriate or would constitute undue hardship including any that: a) pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others; b) constitute a substantial change or alteration to an essential element of a course or program; c) fundamentally alter the nature of the service provided; and/or d) poses undue financial hardship or administrative burden on the University.
- Request from a student current documentation completed by a qualified professional source to verify the need for reasonable accommodations, adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids.
- Refer a student to his/her own qualified professional for verification and to refer a student to a third party qualified professional in the event that additional information or assessment is required.
- Discuss a student's need for reasonable accommodations, adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids with the professional source of his/her documentation with the student's signed consent authorizing discussion.
- Select among equally effective and appropriate accommodations, adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids for each student on a case-by-case/course-by-course basis upon collaboration with the student and others as required.
Niagara University has the responsibility to:
- Ensure that the university's courses, programs, events, services, jobs, offices, student club activities, facilities, equipment, honors, meeting places, and transportation, when viewed in their entirety, are offered in the most integrated and appropriate settings based on a review of what the law requires.
- Offer on-campus educational programs and activities that, will, when viewed in their entirety, be physically accessible. In the event that a student with a physical disability is enrolled in a course or activity that is inaccessible, the class or activity will be moved to an accessible location or the location will be made accessible. The university will examine off-campus sites chosen for any educational experiences, such as clinical placement, field placement, student teaching, study abroad, and co-ops so that, within reason, the site chosen will be both physically and programmatically accessible. In the event that a student with a disability is required to participate in program or activity that is inaccessible, the program or activity will, to the extent practicable, be moved to an accessible location.
- Provide information regarding policies and procedures to students with disabilities in a timely manner and to provide such policies in accessible formats upon request.
- Evaluate students on their abilities, not their disabilities.
- Maintain appropriate confidentiality of records and communication concerning students with disabilities except where disclosure is required by law or authorized by the student.
- Assist students with disabilities who self-identify and meet the university's criteria for eligibility in receiving reasonable and appropriate accommodations, adjustments, auxiliary aids, and/or other protection from discrimination as determined on a case-by-case/course-by-course basis.
- Provide reasonable and appropriate accommodations, adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids for students with disabilities upon a timely request by a student.
- Inform students with disabilities of university policies and procedures for filing a formal complaint through one of the university service providers, or by contacting the dean of student affairs and/or through external agencies (e.g., Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario). See pages 35-36 for procedures.