Exam accommodations in the online learning environment

Exams for students with disabilities

UBC continues to be responsible for accommodating disabled students participating in their courses, programs, and other activities. The Disability Resource Centre (DRC) remains in place to determine students’ eligibility for accommodations, to facilitate accommodations, and to support the Faculties to meet this responsibility. The online learning environment has necessitated some changes to process but the principles and the Policy LR7 remain the same.


Instructor Information

The staff at the DRC are available to support instructors in determining how best to accommodate students given the format and/or platform of their online exam.

Process for accommodated exam events using Canvas: 

  1. Seven days prior to the date of the test event, an instructor will receive an email explaining that at least one student has requested accommodations for that event. Instructors can log into the Accommodation Portal to see who has requested accommodations and to provide test event information.
  2. Six days prior to the test event, an instructor will receive another email, sent by our Exam Coordinator, to let them know which students have requested accommodations and provide their extended time accommodation. Both emails will contain detailed information about these processes.
  3. No later than two business days prior to the test event, instructors are required to load their quiz/test in Canvas, add the publish date, and complete the “online exam information” page requested in the Accommodation Portal. Once the materials are loaded, instructors should enter the extended time by altering the settings for those students in the Canvas course.
  4. Starting at the two-day mark, Exam Coordinators will begin checking exam settings in Canvas courses to ensure that these settings are correct and students will receive their extended time accommodation appropriately.


Implementation of exam accommodations

Extra time consideration
Instructors are asked to manage students’ time extensions for each exam. The Exam Coordinators will check the Canvas settings 2 business days prior to the date of the testing event.

Private or distraction reduced space
Students are responsible for finding suitable space to write their exams.

DRC online invigilation
The DRC can invigilate students who are not able to write the exam using Proctorio, Respondus, or other invigilation software due to their disability.

Alternate format and adaptive software/technology
Students who require adaptive technology should already have it on their personal computers. Students may require alternate format of the exam to be able to utilize their software outside of Canvas or Proctorio.

In person supports
For students who require this type of support (scribe, reader, or mobility assistant) the DRC will invigilate online.

Traditional take home exams
Take home exams are non-invigilated exams that students are given one day or more to complete.  The accommodation of extended time does not typically apply in these cases. There may be some exceptions, so consult with the DRC if you have questions about this format of exam and accommodations.

Exams using Proctorio or Canvas Lockdown Browser

For accessibility and accommodation reasons we recommend staying away from  exam invigilation programs that don’t allow for the use of assistive technology and/or create linear exams in which students are not able to review their work. If you are planning to use this type of proctoring program you may need to provide an alternative to students for whom these platforms are not accessible.

What happens if exam accommodations are not met?

All efforts are being made to provide exam accommodations to students in the online environment. However, there may be times when the accommodations and/or technology do not work out and result in a failure to provide accommodations. Below are some guidelines for students and faculty to follow and options to consider when this unfortunate and unintended situation occurs.

Before the exam:

  • If there is a student in your class who has requested exam accommodations, you will receive an email from the DRC listing the student number and accommodations for each student, including the time extension if relevant (e.g. 1.25x, 1.5x, 2x). If you are using a timed Canvas Quiz or Assignment to run your exam, you will need to update the date and time settings on the exam. Please see the Centre for Teaching and Learning resources Scheduling Exams in Canvas for instructions.
  • If you are unsure about how to update the date and time settings or provide any other accommodations in the exam setting, you can contact the DRC here drc.exams@ubc.ca.
  • Two business days before the test/exam you should create/load your Canvas quiz and set the publish date. The Exam Coordinators will be able to confirm that your exam settings are correct for each student.

During the exam:

  • The Centre for Teaching and Learning recommends you open a Collaborate Ultra or Zoom session, starting 15-30 minutes before the exam begins. Upload a document with a welcome message and any instructions. Let your students know ahead of time they should “drop in” to the Ultra or Zoom session before the exam begins. Once the exam is underway, stay in the Ultra or Zoom session for the duration of the exam, and invite students to join the Ultra or Zoom session during the exam if they have any questions.
  • Check the CTL’s Monitoring Exams in Progress page for other recommendations and troubleshooting advice.
  • Students may reach out to the DRC by email during a test/exam if they are concerned that they are not receiving their accommodations. An Exam Coordinator may check the settings for that student while the test is in progress.

After the exam:

  • Students are asked to let their Accessibility Advisor know if they did not receive their accommodations in a test/exam situation. You will receive an email from the student’s Accessibility Advisor . The Accessibility Advisor will gather the relevant information and put forward a request to you for your consideration of the student’s unmet accommodation. This email may be copied to your Department Head or Associate Dean for their assistance in resolving an unmet exam accommodation.

An instructor may opt out of having the Exam Coordinator confirm their exam settings in Canvas. If this is the instructor’s preference, they must indicate this by checking the “opt-out” box in the Accommodation Portal when providing their test event information; the form must be completed at least 2 business days before the date of the test event.

  1. Opting out means that the Exam Coordinator will not confirm that settings are correct for accommodated students. This means that instructors are taking full responsibility for ensuring the settings are accurate and the accommodations will occur. Any error or lack of accommodation will be the instructor’s responsibility to remediate after the exam has been written (with the involvement of the Department Head/Associate Dean, or equivalent).
  2. In the event that an instructor has opted out of the exam settings confirmation by an exam coordinator and the DRC is contacted by a student during the course of their test to indicate that the accommodations are not available to them; the DRC will:
    • Attempt to contact the instructor to inform them of the concern and request that they change the settings. Support/guidance for this action can be provided.
    • If the instructor is unavailable to the DRC, at least 20 minutes before the end time of the test the DRC will go into Canvas and correct the exam settings.

Student Information

Booking exam accommodations

Students requiring exam accommodations should register their exams in the Accommodations Portal as usual. This booking is the students’ formal request for accommodations for any given exam.  The registration activates the DRC staff involvement with the professor to put accommodations in place. Adherence to registration deadlines is required. During the term, all quizzes and tests must be registered seven days prior to the testing event. For final exams, the last day to register the exam is seven days prior to the first day of exams.

If students have concerns about receiving their accommodations or questions about how they will be accommodated in the online environment they should contact their accessibility advisor directly. Students whose accommodations include assistive technology may experience problems using the technology in some exam platforms. Please contact your accessibility advisor to discuss.

Here are some links to information for students who have questions about online exams using Proctorio:

UBC student guide to Proctorio: https://keepteaching.ubc.ca/files/2020/03/proctorio-student-guide.pdf

Proctorio support for test takers: https://proctorio.com/support

Proctorio system requirements: https://proctorio.com/system-requirements

Student instructions for installing Proctorio: https://ctl-ok.sites.olt.ubc.ca/files/2020/03/Canvas-Quiz-Proctorio-Students-20200319.pdf

If your exam is using a Canvas Lockdown browser with Respondus here is a video explaining how it works: https://youtu.be/XuX8WoeAycs

What happens if exam accommodations are not met?

All efforts are being made to provide exam accommodations to students in the online environment. However, there may be times when the accommodations and/or technology do not work out and result in a failure to provide accommodations. Below are some guidelines for students to follow and options to consider when this unfortunate and unintended situation occurs.

During the exam:

  • Top Five Tips for Taking Canvas Quizzes – find out where and how to check your times in a Canvas Quiz.
  • If you believe you have not received your accommodations for your exam, quickly document the event noting any pertinent details. For example, you notice your time has not been extended as per your accommodations. (Note: this does not include your accommodation for distraction reduced or private space as you are responsible for finding the appropriate setting for your exam.)
  • If possible, contact the professor to request assistance or any adjustments that are possible in the moment. Follow any pre-arranged protocols for tech failure or contacting the professor.
  • You may also reach out to the DRC by emailing drc.exams@ubc.ca and let the exam coordinators know that your accommodations are not in effect. They may be able to adjust the exam settings in Canvas.
  • Try not to waste too much time trying to ‘fix’ the problem. Continue with the exam and get as much done as possible.

Immediately after the exam:

  • Email your Accessibility Advisor with detailed information about what happened during the exam to prevent you from having your exam accommodation(s).
  • Your Accessibility Advisor will work with you to put forward all of the pertinent information to your professor and work with your professor as necessary to determine what type of consideration may be required.

After the exam:

  • If you are satisfied with the consideration given by your professor, then all is well.
  • If you are not satisfied with the consideration being given then the next step is to appeal to the Department Head and/or Associate Dean and request a review of the professor’s decision. If you are satisfied with outcome of the Head/Dean’s review, then all is well.
  • At the end of the term, if you are not satisfied with your final grade you might consider requesting a review of your academic standing in the course. Here is a link to the Academic Calendar outlining the policy and process for this type of appeal. See the ‘Applications and Deadlines’ page for procedures and timelines. http://www.calendar.ubc.ca/okanagan/index.cfm?tree=3,294,878,0