- How much support does a K-12 school have to provide a student with disabilities?
Within the K-12 school system, students with disabilities are identified as having a disability by their parents or guardians or by the school's staff. The school board will normally require that the student be formally assessed. A special needs plan for the student is drawn up based on the assessment, and with input from the teacher, experts and parents. The plan sets out how much support the student will receive. The Alberta Human Rights Act protects students with disabilities who are not provided with enough support by their school boards.
- What can parents do if their children are bullied at school based on a protected ground such as race?
Bullying based on a protected ground is discrimination under the AHR Act. Parents can bring the discrimination to the attention of the school principal or school board superintendent and ask them to investigate and resolve the issue. Parents may request that the principal or superintendent provide them with a letter outlining the action they have taken and the results of that action. If the parents are not satisfied that the school officials have resolved the issue, they can make a human rights complaint to the Alberta Human Rights Commission.
Bullying is unacceptable at any time and in any situation. It isn't a normal part of growing up. Visit the Government of Alberta bullying page to find links to services and resources designed to help children, youth and adults prevent and deal with bullying.
How much notice do students need to provide in order to be accommodated?
Students should provide as much notice as possible. The amount of notice required to put an accommodation in place depends on the nature and uniqueness of the accommodation that the student is seeking. An accommodation that is regularly granted in a standardized fashion would require little notice. For example, students with dyslexia may routinely require more time to write a test than other students. However, a request that requires a unique approach or extensive resources and planning to implement will require much more lead time. For example, making changes to the laboratory portion of a science course for a student with a visual impairment might require specialized preparation of materials and procedures.
- What documentation of disability is a student required to provide?
Students who require accommodation should provide enough expert documentation to facilitate accommodation. In most cases, the student will have to provide documentation from an expert in the area of the specific disability, such as a chartered educational psychologist for learning disabilities, a psychiatrist for psychiatric disabilities, an audiologist for hearing disabilities, or an ophthalmologist for visual disabilities. Where the disability is not obvious or may be unique, the student should provide as much expert documentation as they have at the time of the request and be prepared to collect and provide more.
- What duty does an educational institution have to make course material accessible?
The institution must make course material as accessible as possible. This might include:
- providing material in an accessible format on institutional websites
- making instructor's notes or projected presentations-for example, PowerPoint presentations-available in advance
- making audio recordings of lectures
In addition, there must be a procedure in place for developing alternate course materials to accommodate students with disabilities. Faculty members must explain accommodation procedures regarding course materials to students at the start of each course. In most cases, producing accessible or alternate course material will not result in undue hardship for the instructor or the institution.
- What duty does an institution have to provide accommodation during the exam process?
The institution's exam policy must include a procedure for accommodating students with disabilities. The procedure should:
- set out a protocol for students and instructors to follow
- include several accepted ways to accommodate students with disabilities during testing. There may be instances where a different or unique accommodation is required, depending on an individual's needs. As with any accommodation, both the student and the educator have a duty to broadly explore and document the various options.
Accommodation of students during testing would cause undue hardship for the institution if the testing no longer reasonably assessed the student's ability to meet essential requirements of the course or program, because the institution's objective of education would be compromised.
- What can a student or parent do if they believe an educational institution is not providing adequate accommodation?
In the case of K-12 education, school administrators have specific responsibilities in developing the special needs plan and making sure it is implemented. If a plan is not working, or if the accommodation appears inadequate, parents should first approach those involved in the plan. In post-secondary education, institutions have accommodation policies, with support staff in place and established procedures for resolving complaints.
- Can a school prohibit a student wearing a headscarf or other article of dress required by religion?
No. Such a requirement is not reasonable and justifiable discrimination under the AHR Act.
Revised: August 26, 2010
The Alberta Human Rights Commission is an independent commission of the Government of Alberta.
Due to confidentiality concerns, the Commission cannot reply to complaints of discrimination by email. Please contact the Commission by phone or regular mail if you have a specific complaint.
You can access information about making FOIP requests for records held by the Commission on our Contact us page.
The Commission will make publications available in accessible formats upon request for people with disabilities who do not read conventional print.