Policy for Students with Disabilities

Our Mission Statement and Goals

Accessibility Services is committed to provide students who have disabilities with reasonable, individualized accommodations and support services to facilitate access to Athabasca University undergraduate and graduate programs and courses. Our Goals as a part of Learner Support Services are to:

  • Reduce and eliminate barriers to institutional access for persons with physical, sensory, psychological, and learning disabilities.
  • Ensure a level playing field for all students by assessing needed accommodations on an individualized basis. Accommodations may be recommended in direct relationship to identified functional differences that would disadvantage a person in the performance of specific academic requirements due to delivery within a specific mode, format, or a required procedure.
  • Deliver services based on the specific needs of individuals.
  • Provide a non-prescriptive practice that acknowledges the expertise of the student regarding their condition and needs; requires their active participation in the planning and implementation of accommodations and supports; and demand student responsibility.


Wherever you are, even if you are hundreds of miles from the nearest town, your AU university campus is right there. AU students have completed courses and degrees while travelling abroad, while stationed in remote arctic outposts, while serving overseas with the Canadian Forces or with humanitarian groups and while competing as professional or Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

Many courses are digitized and are delivered through a Content Management Learning System (Moodle) and can be accessed via popular internet browser. Most Assistive Technologies work with the CMS and AU endeavors to work towards making all courses more accessible and usable for all students with varying learning needs.

Making alternative format materials available through distance education provides Accessibility services with both unique challenges and opportunities. We are committed to the development of institutional capabilities to provide or produce all course materials in accessible formats. Since its inception in 1998, then called Access to Students with Disabilities, ASD has made a number of strides. This goal is reflected in the Athabasca University Strategic University Plan 2002-2006, Open Access Goal 2.2, which indicates a commitment to the adoption of Universal Design principles.

We look forward to working with you and university members to provide the most accessible and equitable post-secondary education experience possible.

Disclosure of Disability

Athabasca University is committed to removing barriers to ensure students with disabilities have an equitable educational experience. Identifying your disability will not affect your access into programs or courses.

Identifying your disability to Accessibility Services will enable you to access Accessibility Services’ academic accommodations, expert staff, and services. We need you to work with us to ensure your needs are met through reasonable accommodations.

Accessibility Services encourages you to discuss your needs with your tutors to facilitate a better understanding of your academic strengths and differences. Open communication helps faculty to be more aware of how they can be supportive.

Information and documentation regarding disability or medical conditions that is forwarded to Accessibility Services is placed in a confidential file and secure location.

Additional documentation such as a medical letter verifying the need for an extension is kept with Accessibility Services. These files are also secure and confidential.

Specific information regarding diagnosis is generally not provided to AU faculty or administration. A notation is posted in our Student Information System that indicates you are a student eligible for academic accommodations and what those accommodations are. When we contact a faculty member on your behalf to identify accommodation requirements, we indicate that you are a student who has a disability. The need for a specific accommodation is explained in terms of functional ability in relation to required course outcomes only.

All communication within the institution regarding a student's disability or medical condition is strictly conducted on a need to know basis. In other words, the information that is provided is limited to how it is pertinent to the procedure (e.g. information about your disability would not be shared if we are assisting you to register in a course, but information on exam accommodations that have been assessed would be identified if we are helping you to book an exam).

All communication with any individual, agency, or family member outside of Athabasca University regarding a student requires a signed Waiver of Personal Information from the student. For anyone to act on your behalf we require a Letter of Authorisation signed from the student.

Personal information provided to Accessibility services is collected in accordance with and protected under Alberta's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

International Students with Disabilities

Accessibility Services welcomes the opportunity and challenge of serving enrolled and prospective international students with disabilities.

International students with a disability must apply and meet the same eligibility criteria as Canadian students. (Please see the information about eligibility and how to apply.)

We extend all the same assessment and documentation services that students residing in Canada receive, provided:

  • the language of communication is English
  • communications outside of Canada and the continental United States are conducted by e-mail; and
  • we can access the information we need to provide accommodation.

With respect to variables such as cost, available human or community resources, or technological barriers, Accessibility Services may not be able to extend a full range of services. We will work with you to determine the best possible accommodation that can be provided. Contact Accessibility Services for further information.

Visit also the AU International Students page.