What is Accommodation?
Accommodation is a series of steps taken to ensure that individuals, regardless of physical or mental ability, race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, family or marital status, pregnancy, ancestry, place of origin, and citizenship have equal access and opportunity to participate fully in events, services, and employment. Under the Nova Scotia Human Rights Code, everyone has the right to request accommodation if he or she is being denied access to services, housing or employment on any protected grounds listed in the Code.
Dalhousie has key frameworks to support the administration of accommodation requests and protect privacy:
- Student Accommodation Policy is Administered by the Student Accessibility Centre (Student Affairs)
- Employee Accommodation Policy is Administered by Accessible Employment (Human Resources) [login required].
Safe to study, safe to work
Dalhousie is committed to ensuring a working and learning environment in which all members of that community can participate without discrimination on grounds prohibited by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act. [PDF] This includes making reasonable efforts to provide accommodations, up to the point of undue hardship, for students and employees who are experiencing a barrier due to a characteristic protected by the Human Rights Act.
The ‘duty to accommodate’ is the right to be accommodated, and the corresponding duty of the University to respond quickly and appropriately to requests for accommodation. With regards to assessing ‘undue hardship’, the accommodation can only be denied if the university can provide quantifiable evidence that the required accommodation would pose significant and irreparable harm to the operation of the University. Some considerations in determining undue hardship include: cost, outside sources of funding (if any), and health and safety concerns.
When a Dalhousie student or employee experiences a barrier due to a protected characteristic, the university has a duty to provide reasonable accommodation up to the point of undue hardship. These decisions are based on operational needs, specific job duties and personal circumstances:
- Not necessarily “perfect” or “ideal” accommodation;
- Aim is to correct the barrier (not lower academic standards);
- It is customized, evolving and context-responsive.
Individuals who may require accommodation include: persons with disabilities, persons with faith/cultural requirements, pregnant persons, persons with family responsibilities (normal experiences of parenting do not form the basis for an accommodation), persons undergoing gender-affirming medical care, persons returning to work or classes after sick leave, persons with temporary impairments (note: this is not an exhaustive list).
Everyone (employers, persons needing accommodation, and unions) has a shared responsibility for making the accommodation process a success. Individuals are not obligated to reveal a disability. However, when an accommodation is requested, everyone involved should cooperatively and appropriately share information and actively seek solutions.
What are the responsibilities of the individual?
- Communicate the need for accommodation in accordance with the accommodations policy at the earliest possible opportunity.
- Provide necessary and appropriate documentation as required.
- Participate cooperatively in finding and implementing a solution/plan.
- Accept appropriate accommodation.
- Identify and communicate any concerns with the proposed accommodation in a timely manner.
- Perform the essential duties of work or study within the parameters of the accommodations plan.
What are the responsibilities of the employer / supervisor / academic staff?
- Once an accommodation request has been received, initiate the accommodation process and act promptly in meeting the duty to accommodate.
- Identify the essential and non-essential duties of the job/course.
- Be open and ready to resolve any workplace/learning environment resentment that may arise as a result of the accommodation.
- Identify and communicate any difficulties with the accommodation to the person requesting accommodation in a timely manner.
What are the responsibilities of the union?
- Work with all parties to find and implement accommodations and to make a reasonable effort to be flexible when exceptions to a Collective Agreement will facilitate accommodations
What are the responsibilities of the co-worker / classmate etc.?
- Participate cooperatively in the accommodation process where appropriate.
Adapted from Queens University Human Rights website.