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Policy & Procedural notes regarding providing accommodation for students who are not fully fluent in English

(Approved by Academic Council on November 4, 2010)

applicable to students in MScOT, MScPT and MSc/PhD (Rehabilitation Science) programs.


Many students with a native language different from English who have completed most of their prior education in a language other than English will have taken a test of English as a foreign language and have passed at a very high level. Nevertheless, these language tests are not specific to rehabilitation therapy/science. Some of these students thus may have difficulty with rapid processing of the discipline-specific language required to succeed in their current program. The intent of this policy is to recognize this situation and provide support for students as they develop the high level of English fluency required for success in their program.


Students who are not fully fluent in English may be provided with accommodation in the form of extra time for evaluation processes that are highly time-limited and require rapid processing of English. To be eligible for accommodation under this policy, students must have a native language different from English AND have completed the vast majority of their previous education in a language other than English. Eligibility is confirmed during an interview with the Program Chair or delegate. This policy is directed at written examinations that are undertaken in one sitting; however, other forms of evaluation may be considered on a case-by-case basis. The additional time is normally no more than an additional 30% of the standard time available to all other students in the course. The extent of the accommodation must be reasonable with respect to the student's ability and the structure of the evaluation, and in keeping with the intent of the policy (see Preamble, above, and Rationale, below). Students who seek accommodation under this policy may seek only extra time and not additional accommodations such as private room, confidentiality of accommodation status or other accommodations that may be provided to students with disabilities. No accommodations will normally be made under this policy for clinical examinations (e.g., OSCEs) or for evaluation processes that are not highly time-limited (e.g., "take-home" examinations, assignments, term papers). If a student has not sought accommodation and subsequently performs poorly on an evaluation, the student may not claim a lack of accommodation as extenuating circumstances. However, if a student has sought accommodation but was denied and subsequently performs poorly on an evaluation, the student may appeal the decision following standard School/ Program policies and procedures for doing so.

Procedural notes

Although students may be counselled by faculty or staff with regard to the existence of this policy, students are ultimately responsible for requesting accommodation under this policy. Students must identify their wish to seek accommodation at least two weeks in advance of evaluation processes. A Program Chair's approval of a student's status as eligible for accommodation under this policy is valid for one year and normally will be renewed no more than once. Although the student is not required to repeatedly prove eligibility within the year, the student is required to initiate contact with each course coordinator throughout the program to determine if there will be any evaluation processes in each course for which he/she will wish to seek accommodation.

Rationale: background and intent


Students whose first language is not English and who have not completed most of their prior education in English will have completed one of the many types of English-as-a-foreign-language test as a condition of admission. While these tests evaluate a minimum standard of English proficiency, they may not fully capture English proficiency in all the ways that student evaluation is conducted in the School's programs.

Before entering the MScOT or MScPT programs, students are expected to have read the "Essential skills and attributes required for the study in [Occupational Therapy or Physical Therapy]" as part of their application process. These documents can be found at In both documents, it is noted that the level of communication fluency required in the programs is often higher than is generally assessed in standard testing of language fluency, and that students are responsible for achieving the high level of communication that is required for clinical practice.

In the RHBS program, students must undertake knowledge synthesis and dissemination activities such as writing and orally defending a thesis, among other research-related communications. Therefore, in order to succeed in their program of study, students are responsible for demonstrating a high level of communication ability in English related to rehabilitation research, regardless of any language fluency testing previously undertaken.


The policy is designed to reflect the principles of educational equity, as outlined in the Queen's Educational Equity Policy, approved by Senate, Nov 26, 2009

The intent of the policy is to provide accommodation for abilities that are not considered to be essential competencies that must be demonstrated by students. Skills such as understanding and expressing ideas precisely and accurately, both orally and in writing, are essential competencies for occupational therapists, physical therapists and rehabilitation science scholars. Moreover, these competencies must be demonstrated in a time-efficient manner. Nevertheless, it is recognized that some skills embedded in certain types of evaluation processes - e.g., rapid comprehension of multiple-choice questions, some forms of rapid writing - are not an essential competency of occupational therapists, physical therapists or scholars and may be appropriate for accommodation.