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Accessibility Services


Accessibility Services

Advocating for an accessible learning environment for all students at Red Deer Polytechnic.

Faculty Information

Accessibility Services collaborates with faculty to achieve our shared goals of inclusion and full accessibility.  Many students who access Accessibility Services are referred by a faculty member.


Referral to Accessibility Services

If you think a student may have a disability, Accessibility Services recommends these steps:

  • Request an opportunity to speak privately with the student.
  • Let them know what you have observed and that you would like to help them to be more successful academically.
  • Inform the student of all of the services available at the polytechnic that assist students in being successful (Counselling Services, Writing Skills Centre, Math Help Centre, the Library, Learning Strategies, and Accessibility Services).

Confidentiality and Consent

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) Act guides Red Deer Polytechnic's confidentiality and consent policies. Faculty are reminded that Accessibility Services cannot discuss a student's private or confidential information unless the student has given consent and the information is required to provide accommodations to that student.

Please note that all information contained in the Accommodation letter is confidential and is provided with the student’s permission. All discussions and dealings with the student should be conducted in a confidential manner. Please also refrain from discussing this information with, or in the presence of, other students and/or faculty, without the student’s consent.

This document below provides faculty and staff with information about students with disabilities, including classroom and communication strategies for various disabilities, the process of receiving accommodations, exam accommodations, and FAQ's.


Access+ is a multi-use online portal that combines many of the functions of Accessibility Services and Testing Services into one easy-to-use tool. It streamlines the processes used by each department and serves as a central location for students and faculty to manage accommodations, testing, and other resources.  

Navigate to Access+ here or paste this URL into a web browser. We recommend that you bookmark this page.

Image of the six steps for faculty in using Access+

Step 1: View Accommodation letters

This letter summarizes recommendations for academic accommodations your students will need to meet the learning outcomes of your courses.

Step 2: Confirm receipt of Accommodation letters

This will allow students registered with Accessibility Services to book accommodated tests/exams.

Note: This step must be completed for each student in order for test/exam bookings to be submitted.

Step 3: Collaborate with students and the Accessibility Coordinator regarding requested accommodations

Students are expected to meet with their instructors to discuss how their accommodations fit with the design of the course. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the recommended accommodations or need assistance with implementing them, please contact Accessibility Services at 403.357.3629 or email

Step 4: Submit test/exam information and materials for accommodated test/exams

In addition to email, mail, and in-person options, instructors will now have the additional option of securely uploading Exam Information Forms and test/exam copies directly to Access+ using the Instructor Wizard.

Step 5: Student uses accommodations

Students will write approved tests/exams in Testing Services using their approved academic accommodations. Students will also use these accommodations in their courses throughout the term, as permitted.

Step 6: Exams returned to instructors, process complete

In addition to email, mail, and in-person options, instructors will now have the additional option of receiving completed tests/exams directly through Access+ using the Instructor Wizard.

Accommodation Letters

Accommodation letters summarize recommendations for reducing or eliminating barriers in the classroom environment. The provision of academic accommodations involves a collaborative process and is a shared responsibility among all stakeholders: students, faculty, Testing Services, and Accessibility Services. We prepare an Accommodation letter after consultation with the student regarding the barriers experienced in the classroom or college environment.

Letters are addressed to teaching faculty and are sent by the Accessibility Coordinator via email or through Access+.

If you have any questions or concerns about the recommended accommodations, contact Accessibility Services. 

Please do not deny an identified accommodation directly to the student.

Accommodation plans are reviewed annually, at a minimum, to ensure that they continue to be effective in mitigating identified barriers to full participation.

Classroom and exam accommodations are most likely to have an effect on teaching faculty. Find out more about accommodations.

Questions and Concerns

Accessibility Services encourages faculty to contact us to discuss any questions or concerns about policy, procedures, and/or supporting the learning experience of students with disabilities. 

Phone: 403.357.3629


Duty to Accommodate

Red Deer Polytechnic has a legal obligation to ensure that students with documented disabilities have equal access to post-secondary education through accommodations. Accommodation is the process of making alterations to the delivery of services so that those services become accessible to more people, including persons with disabilities.

Accommodations do not:

  • require that post-secondary institutions lower academic or non-academic standards to accommodate students with disabilities.
  • relieve the student of the responsibility to develop the essential skills and competencies expected of all students.

Read Red Deer Polytechnic's policy on Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities.

Read the Alberta Human Rights Commission's bulletin on the Duty to Accommodate students with disabilities in post-secondary education institutions.

Universal Design for Learning

Venn Diagram of the Universal Design for Learning Principles

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a set of principles for curriculum development and delivery that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. 

It provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone; not a single, one-size-fits-all solution, but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs. (CAST, 2014.)

Principles of Universal Design for Learning

The three primary principles of Universal Design are:

  1. Provide multiple means of representation
    • Presents information and content in different way
  2. Provide multiple means of expression
    • Differentiate the ways that students can express what they know
  3. Provide multiple means of engagement
    • Stimulate interest and motivation for learning

Access the Centre for Teaching and Learning's webpage on Universal Design for Learning.

Read RDP's Universal Design Policy.

Inclusive Language and Interaction

Inclusive Language

People with a disability can and should be described in words and expressions that portray them in an appropriate, positive and sensitive manner. The following guidelines are suggested/preferred by over 200 organization that represent/are associated with Canadians with disabilities. 

Always remember to describe the person, not the disability. Only refer to a person's disability when it is relevant, and avoid words designed to evoke pity or guilt. If in doubt, ask! It is okay to make mistakes when you acknowledge the mistake was made and want to correct it for the future.

Instead of ... Use...
(the) disabled People or person(s) with a disability
Crippled by, afflicted with, or suffers from Person who has or person with
Physically challenged Person with a disability
Victim, sufferer Person with a disability
Cripple Person with a disability
Lame Limited mobility
Confined, bound, restricted, or dependent on a wheelchair Wheelchair user
Normal Able-bodied
Deaf and dumb, deaf mute Person who is hard of hearing or deaf
Hearing impaired Person who is hard of hearing or deaf
Retarded, mentally retarded, person with mental handicap Person with an intellectual disability or person with a developmental disability
Spastic (as noun) Person with Cerebral Palsy
Deformed, congenital defect Person born with...
Visually impaired Blind or partially sighted

Compiled by Active Living Alliance for Canadians with a Disability. Supported by Fitness Canada, Government of Canada Fitness and Amateur Sport, and Government du Canada Condition physique et sport amateur.

Guidelines for Interaction

  • Treat people who have disabilities with the same dignity and respect you would give people without disabilities.
  • Offer help but wait until it is accepted before giving it. Offering assistance to someone is only polite behaviour. Giving help before it is accepted is rude and can sometimes be unsafe.
  • Offer to shake hands when introduced to people with limited hand use, an artificial limb, etc., for they can usually shake hands. Offering the left hand is an acceptable greeting.
  • Don't lean against or hang on someone's wheelchair. It is an extension of his/her personal space. Never patronize someone in a wheelchair by patting him/her on the head or shoulder.
  • Listen attentively when talking with someone who has difficulty speaking and wait for him/her to finish. If necessary, ask short questions that require short answers, a nod, or shake of the head.
  • Talk directly to the person with the disability, not to someone accompanying him or her. To ignore a person's existence in a group is very insensitive and it is always rude for two people to discuss a third person who is also present. For example, if a deaf person is with an interpreter, speak directly to the deaf person, the interpreter will interpret what you are saying to him/her.
  • Treat a person with a disability as a healthy person. If an individual has a functional limitation does not mean that the individual is sick. Many disabilities have no accompanying health problems.
  • Most people with disabilities will ask for assistance if they need it. They will often try to do as much as they can on their own and assistance is not always required. Offer assistance if you wish, but do not insist on helping.
  • When talking to a person in a wheelchair, if the conversation continues for more than a few minutes, pull up a chair. Communication may be enhanced and neck strain alleviated.
  • Don't be embarrassed if you happen to use common expressions such as 'see you later' or 'did you hear about that?' that may relate to a person's disability.
  • When giving directions to a person in a wheelchair, be sure to review the route the person will travel in the context of elevators, ground level access, etc. 
  • If you have difficulty understanding someone, don't pretend that you do understand. Repeat as much as you understand and the person's reactions will give you clues.

These are excerpts from the following two sources: Ten Commandments for Communicating with People with Disabilities, The New York Times, June 7, 1993, and a pamphlet from the Regional Rehabilitation Research Institute on Attitudinal, Legal and Leisure Barriers, Washington, D.C. Additional observations have been added.