navigating_law_school by jizhen1947


									   Navigating Law School and

A Practical Guide for Students
    Who Have Disabilities
                         Editor and Principal Author:
                              Allan McChesney

                          Reach Canada, June 2000

                     Project Research and Writing Team:

                             Associate Authors:
   Frédérique Couette-Guena, Lesley Gervais, Kent Hehr and Martin Schmieg

                            Project Researchers:
               Nicole Druckman, Ravi Malhotra, and Somei Tam

                         Contributing Researchers:
                         Al Cook and Golan Mergui

                         This guidebook is funded by:
Social Development Partnerships Program, Human Resources Development Canada

    Guide pratique pour les étudiantes et étudiants en droit handicapés
    Reach Canada: Promoting Equality and Justice
            for People with Disabilities
Reach Canada is an Ottawa-based voluntary organization that empowers people with disabilities
to remove barriers in education, work, and the general community. Reach was launched in 1981,
the International Year of Disabled Persons. An important part of Reach work involves programs
to increase awareness about disabilities and human rights - for providers of health and social
services, educators, legal professionals and the wider community. Reach activity covers a full
spectrum of physical and mental disabilities as well as learning disabilities and other invisible
disabilities such as Crohn’s and Colitis, and chronic pain.

Reach also helps people in Ottawa and Eastern Ontario to resolve legal issues, partly by
facilitating access to lawyers for people who have a disability. Reach handles close to 5000 calls
per year. Over 250 lawyers in the Ottawa area volunteer time and expertise. Each lawyer agrees
to donate up to three hours to a client free of charge. If more assistance is required, fees are
negotiated between the lawyer and client. A toll-free line enables people throughout Eastern
Ontario to call Reach free of charge.

Reach works with other organizations to provide information and referral to people with
disabilities (and sometimes to their families) – concerning community services including
rehabilitation and mental health services. Because of its involvement in law and human rights
issues, Reach is particularly aware of problems confronting members of the legal community,
including law students who have a disability.

The address of Reach Canada is Suite 810, 151 Slater Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 5H3. Reach
can be telephoned at (613) 236-6636, TTY (613) 236-9478 and toll free at 1-800-465-8898.
Reach can be contacted by E-mail at:, and its Web address is:

In addition to this Guide, the present Reach Canada project has produced two related resources:

•   a video on disability accommodation in legal education: Navigating Law School: Paths for
    Students with Disabilities (May 2000 - 16 minutes).

•   a manual titled A Framework for Action - Law School, Education Equity and Students with
    Disabilities: Working towards Equitable Access to Legal Education. (1999 - 105 pages).

These resources were designed to enhance awareness for law teachers, law school administrators
and others responsible for ensuring that appropriate accommodations are provided to law
students who have disabilities.
Reach Canada gratefully acknowledges the important project assistance contributed by Human
Resources Development Canada through its Social Development Partnerships Program.
Participants in Surveys, Focus Groups and Other Interviews
This Guide is intended principally for law students who have a disability. Present and former law
students with disabilities have also been its main source of data and insights. A diverse group of
law and articling students, Bar Admission candidates and lawyers with disabilities participated in
two Canada-wide surveys, five focus groups, and other kinds of interviews that provided a rich
bank of knowledge and ideas. There are too many individuals to list by name, and in several
instances, people preferred to make their contributions confidentially. Nonetheless, I wish to
thank collectively those who took the time to offer information, illustrative personal stories and
tips for coping with the unusual pressures one can encounter while studying law.

Other Valued Sources of Advice and Information
Sincere appreciation is extended to the many administrative and teaching staff who answered our
barrage of questions, at each faculty of law and bar admission (and Notary education) program in
Canada, primarily persons involved with the implementation of disability accommodations.
Gratitude is also owed to Disability Service Providers who staff a Special Needs Office,
Disability Services Office, or Office for Students with Disabilities (or an office with a similar
name) and to their colleagues in libraries and adaptive technology labs, at the twenty universities
where law faculties are located (and at Carleton University). Personnel at these places responded
generously to our inquiries concerning accommodation policies and practices.

The aforementioned individuals, along with personnel who are the contacts for equity
accommodations in law faculties, performed the invaluable role of informing potential
interviewees about our project. We located interested law students and alumni through many
channels, but this indirect method was the main manner of contacting those who then
participated in surveys and focus groups. All of us were and are determined to respect the
confidentiality rights of individuals who have sought or received disability accommodations as
law students. A good proportion of those individuals responded (favourably and fully) to our
requests for their survey participation, but arranging for the initial contacts was never a
straightforward process.

At a number of important stages in the development of the Guide, expert advice was received
from members of the national executive of the Canadian Association of Disability Service
Providers in Post-secondary Education (CADSPPE). Special thanks in this respect are owed to
Barbara Roberts of the Special Needs Office at Queen’s University and Joan Wolforth of the
Office for Students with Disabilities at McGill University. Each aided immeasurably, with
strongly relevant knowledge of many kinds.

For their advice on adaptive technologies, how they are used by students with disabilities, and
how the Guide should be presented to facilitate access for people with various disabilities, I wish
to thank Michele Chittenden and Steve Cutway of Queen’s University as well as the executive
members of CADSPPE mentioned above. (Helpful information was also offered by Hilary
Richardson at Queen’s Special Readers’ Services, where Ms. Chittenden is the Director.) A
strong effort was made to find layout formats that would not create barriers for individuals who
will gain access to this Guide through alternate formats and adaptive technologies. Michele
Chittenden also kindly agreed to allow me to mention the practical resources posted online by
her Programme, including an important new publication that is still in draft format.

While at each law school there is at least one staff member who is the official contact for
disability-related questions, a few law faculties have taken bigger strides toward implementation
of their legal and professional responsibility to provide reasonable accommodation for students
with disabilities. (The writer was astounded to discover that the disability “contact” in one law
school faculty office still simply refers all inquiries concerning accommodations to the central
university disability services centre.) The Common Law Section at the University of Ottawa
Faculty of Law has a full-time Equity Officer, part of whose duties involve counselling and
assistance for students with disabilities who are studying Common Law in English or French.
Both Rosanna Carreon, the current office holder (who may be on leave if you read this in 2000)
and Joanne St. Lewis, the Faculty’s original Equity Officer, were generous with their advice and
time. I gathered much data from them as well as advice on the right questions and the right
people to approach for other answers.

Although many law faculty members contributed to the research for this Guide, I wish to thank
the following individuals for their input and guidance during consultation meetings: Dean Peter
Leuprecht, Blaine Baker, Francine Cholette and Victoria Meikle of McGill University Faculty of
Law and McGill law students Elizabeth Drent and Marc-Etienne Sicard Candace Malcolm,
Dianne Pothier and John Yogis of Dalhousie Law School; and Dean Bruce Feldthusen of the
Common Law Section, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa.

Concerning disability accommodations in bar admission programs, administrators and staff at
almost all law societies were quite cooperative when approached by our project researchers and
associate authors for information, particularly at the law societies of Ontario and British
Columbia. I wish to acknowledge the generous time and advice given personally to me by
managers of the Bar Admission Course of the Law Society of Upper Canada at Osgoode Hall
when our research for this part of the Guide began.

A couple of the individuals recognized herein as members of the Project Team have close
associations with the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS). At an
early phase of research, timely and very useful advice was received in a consultation with its
Executive Director, Frank Smith.

I would also like to acknowledge the information gleaned when I was kindly invited to sit in on a
consultation at McGill University between members of the executive of CADSPPE and
Catherine Fichten and Jennison Asuncion of the Adaptech Project. Participating memebers of
CADSPPE’s national executive were Ruth North of Memorial University, Helen Simson,
formerly of the University of Toronto, and Joan Wolforth of McGill.

Since I do not have an opportunity in our project video to thank all of those who contributed in
its design, production, and content, I am glad to have the chance to thank all of them collectively
in these pages. In the course of conducting lengthy interviews from which only a few
representative clips could be edited into the brief video, the Producer (myself) and the skilled
Director (Ian Parker) collected much relevant data that we could not include on the tape. Some of
this has found its way into the Guide.

A jurist who deserves special mention is David Lepofsky, an effective advocate on disability
accommodation issues and President of the Canadian Association of Visually Impaired Lawyers.

I learned a great deal by meeting with David during the early stages of the Project, listening to
what he said in our taped interview of him and reading his good but still largely unapplied advice
in the 1991 McGill Law Review article titled: “Disabled Persons in Canadian Law Schools”.

During the planning and realization of the Guide, it was reassuring for the writer to know that he
could rely on members of the Project Advisory Group (PAG) to steer him in the proper direction
with respect to the right approach on content and style and usage of the most appropriate
terminology. These expert and generous advisers were Mark Berlin, President of Reach Canada,
Bruce Mills, former President of Reach, and Carole Théberge, a national Board Member of the
Canadian Hard of Hearing Society, along with Paula Agulnik, Executive Director of Reach
Canada (acting in one of her many supportive roles). Although he was not officially a member of
the PAG, Louis Buschman admirably took on a key advisory function voluntarily. As usual, Skip
Brooks played a rather pivotal facilitative role near the beginning of the Project. All portions of
the Guide were reviewed in progressive iterations of draft versions by law students and/or
lawyers who have disabilities.

The Project Research and Writing Team
Unlike the situation in most law schools and in the legal profession, individuals with disabilities
were not under-represented in the development of this book. Not everyone involved has a
disability, but among the team of law students, law graduates and others who contributed,
persons who have disabilities made up a high proportion. Those with the experience of studying
law, with and without known disabilities, were able to draw upon personal knowledge to help
ensure that the Guide is useful and realistic for those who turn to it as a resource.

A few individuals, in addition to conducting research for the project, wrote one or more draft
chapters, which were then added to and revised (to varying degrees) as the Guide took shape.
These Associate Authors were (in alphabetical order) Frédérique Couette-Guena, Lesley Gervais,
Kent Hehr and Martin Schmieg. Other individuals also carried out many kinds of research,
verification, and review in consultation with the Project Director during the different stages of
guidebook development. These Project Researchers were Nicole Druckman, Ravi Malhotra, and
Somei Tam, with research contributions from Golan Mergui. Significant additional
organizational and writing contributions came from Fran Campbell and Al Cook.

Technical, Administrative, Organizational and Translation Support and Services
A number of individuals helped to coordinate or assist various kinds of consultations, including
Nancy Wiggs at UBC’s Faculty of Law, Carol Cain at Queen’s University’s Special Needs
Office, assistants to the Law Deans at McGill and Ottawa universities, Nissim Louis and other
staff at the Office for Students with Disabilities at McGill, and staff at the Council of Canadian
Law Deans. Anne Buie and AC Wordpower helped to ensure that the many kinds of content and
formatting advice received were translated well onto pages and screens. Language translation
services for the Guide have been provided by Diane Archambault and colleagues of Min-Alerte.
Survey questionnaires were translated by Carolyn You. Others whose assistance was kindly
given included staff at Dalhousie, UBC, Calgary, Ottawa and McGill Law Schools who aided in
coordination of Focus Groups (in cooperation with project researchers and their support

Along with their advice on the Guide’s content and style, both Paula Agulnik and Louis
Buschman provided important administrative guidance and support, as did others at Reach
Canada, including Meaza Negassi, and Sherrol Peacock.

Editor’s Personal Note
This is not the kind of book in which one places a dedication page, so I shall content myself with
this dedication paragraph. As Principal Author, I wish to dedicate this guidebook to community
volunteers and teachers who work to improve education and remove barriers to equal
opportunity, including my parents, Robert and Isabelle McChesney. They have helped to inspire
my continuing interest in equity and education and in finding practical ways to ensure that they
co-exist for everyone.

Additional Thanks and a Disclaimer
Reach Canada acknowledges the central funding for the project provided by the Social
Development Partnerships Program, Human Resources Development Canada. The findings of
Navigating Law School were determined by the Principal Author, under contract with Reach
Canada. They do not necessarily represent the views of Reach Canada, and are not intended to
represent the views of Human Resources Development Canada.

Allan McChesney
Principal Author

This guidebook (the Guide) is the result of a study of Canadian law schools and bar admission
programs conducted by Reach in 1999-2000. An earlier phase of this project led to a manual,
called A Framework for Action, directed at law schools and university administrators, especially
education equity personnel and disability service providers. Both the Framework and the present
Guide are intended for use by current and prospective law students who have disabilities (as well
as by university, law school, and bar admission course instructors and administrators, and
disability service providers). The Guide provides information about the extent and effectiveness
of accommodation policies and practices available in law schools and bar admission courses
across the country and in Notariat education in Québec.

The Law Requires Law Schools to Accommodate Students with Disabilities
Educational institutions, including universities, law schools and bar admission programs have a
legal obligation to provide reasonable accommodation that promotes equity for students who
have disabilities. This legal duty is created by provincial and federal human rights law that
applies to post-secondary education, including the equality rights guaranteed for individuals with
disabilities by Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Judicial
interpretations of the aforementioned laws have reinforced the rights of students and other people
in Canada who have disabilities. More extensive discussion of relevant law is presented in A
Framework for Action, at pages 14 to 34.

Accommodation is the adjustment of a rule, practice, condition, or requirement to take into
account the specific needs of an individual or group. To some degree it involves treating
individuals differently. Different treatment to adjust for a disability is legally required if the
accommodation is needed to ensure that the individual has the opportunity to participate fully
and equally.

The duty to accommodate in employment, educational and other fields is balanced by the notion
that the university or other institution/entity is not obligated to provide accommodations that
cause undue hardship for the institution or entity. The legal responsibility to make
accommodations for a student with a disability does not stop when minor hardships are
encountered. In deciding whether hardships are excessive or “undue” in a university setting, a
court or human rights tribunal may look at factors such as: the financial resources required by the
university to provide an accommodation; the degree and kinds of effects that accommodations
will have on other students; the impact of accommodations on the educational program itself;
and unusual risks, if any, that accommodations may pose for faculty or other students, including
other students who have a disability.

Experts consulted during research for the current project have been operating under the
reasonable presumption that educational accommodations for students with disabilities would
almost always be legally required, and indicated that provable undue hardship for a university or
law school would be very rare. One potential exception cited was the situation in which massive
renovations are needed to make campus buildings more accessible, when the funds needed are
not presently available from any source.

A law student who participated in the preparation of this guidebook asked an intriguing question:
“[Do governments] have an obligation to make funds available so the institution can
accommodate?” That question is not addressed here; we suggest that students and faculty
members recommend the question as an assignment for constitutional and human rights law
courses and moot court programs at their law faculties.

In Practical Terms, What is Education Accommodation?
In legal education (and in education generally), accommodation for a disability can take many
forms, including:

•   rethinking the factors to be taken into account in deciding which applicants will be admitted
    to a faculty, including the appropriate weight to be given to each factor;

•   altering teaching methods and the ways that course material is presented and distributed;

•   modifying rooms, hallways, entrances and libraries to make them more accessible;

•   providing interpreters, technical aids and note-takers; and

•   adjusting examination schedules and testing methods.

In the career, educational and other fields, accommodations help to give capable people who do
not fit a particular “norm” a fair chance to succeed personally and professionally within our
contribute to society. In the university and law school environments, accommodations are
intended to prevent a disability from becoming a determining factor in the assessment of a
student’s knowledge and skills. Though law faculties and campus disability service providers
need to offer accommodations based on systematic application of policies and good practices,
individualized accommodation is usually required by each student who has a disability. The
severity of a disability varies among individuals and each person responds to and succeeds
differently with a disability. Every situation is unique and must be assessed individually.

Accommodations do not compromise academic integrity or standards because the same
requirements are expected of all students. Rather, accommodation can ensures that students with
special needs are given a fair opportunity to achieve these standards. Accommodation facilitates
flexibility and recognizes that some students may achieve the same results in different ways.

The Scope of Our Review and How We Did the Research
Much of the information in this Guide was obtained through surveys distributed across Canada to
law students and law graduates who have disabilities and through Focus Group discussions held
at law schools in four provinces. Those who participated in the surveys and discussions were
asked to describe barriers and useful accommodation efforts they had encountered and to share
their personal survival tips for law students with disabilities. Participating students and lawyers
provided reality-based observations on the quality of education equity and accommodation
initiatives. While this Guide focuses on “best practices”, we also mention a few “worst practices”
that students told us about. These horror stories from real life might alert students and others to
potential problems that can be avoided, worked around or overcome.

Our survey respondents were representative of people with mobility, physical, sensory, learning
and mental disabilities, and other non-visible disabling conditions such as chronic pain. Just as
the nature and severity of disabilities varies, so do the accommodations required to render each
person’s educational context more equitable. All participants indicated that their disabilities had
some adverse effect on the quality of their legal education. Reasonable accommodations are
usually available nowadays for law students, but survey respondents identified many areas
needing improvement at their own educational institutions and generally.

Every Canadian law school was contacted frequently during the project, primarily to facilitate
direct, confidential contact between students and project researchers, but also to investigate
institutional policies and practices. We quizzed university and law school staff concerned with
disability accommodations and reviewed pertinent printed and online materials. Of particular
assistance in our research on disability accommodations were those Internet homepages of
Canadian universities and law schools that clearly described accommodation policies and
services offered at these specific institutions. Disappointment arose, however, when a website
was either generally uninformative or difficult to navigate, or revealed little useful information
about disability supports and services. Our experience in the project confirmed that the Internet
can be a valuable tool for any potential law (or other) student, particularly one who has a

The resources available to Reach for preparation of this guidebook did not permit a detailed
verification and listing of accommodation policies and services at all twenty law schools in
Canada and on each university campus where a law school is located. Nor would it have been the
best use of resources, because comprehensive surveys of university and college services for
students with disabilities have recently been carried out by other organizations. The Bibliography
includes reference to studies looking at accommodation measures for post-secondary students
who have disabilities, such as that published in 1999 by the National Educational Association of
Disabled Students (NEADS), as well as Eansor and Chartrand, Canadian Law School Academic
Access and Support Programs (1997). By examining these resources (many of which are both in
print and on the Internet), one can learn of additional adjustments or services that could be
requested at a law school or university.

While recognizing that it was inappropriate to conduct another complete national survey of
accommodations at law schools or on university campuses, we deemed it worthwhile to make
specific comparisons among a few law schools, to highlight the range of disability
accommodations that could be, and therefore should be, available to a student. With this
objective in mind, we conducted an analysis of the official accommodation offerings of all five
law schools in Québec, including those offered in each law school’s wider university setting. By
reading Chapter 12 on Québec, students and applicants from any province or territory can learn
something worthwhile about accommodation options that a student could seek during legal
education. Other hints may be garnered by reviewing the lists in Chapter 5.2 of this Guide, under
the heading Disabilities Experienced and Accommodated in Law School Education.

Though we did not conduct a country-wide comprehensive survey of accommodation programs
ourselves, we did of course review the results of the NEADS survey mentioned above, as well as
other extensive reports listed in the Bibliography. In addition, at a number of stages of the
research and drafting, the editor received expert advice from members of the national executive
of the Canadian Association of Disability Service Providers in Post-Secondary Education
(CADSPPE). Wise advice was also forthcoming from members of the Project Advisory Group
established at the outset of the guidebook project.

No matter what law school or post law school course you attend or hope to attend, parts of this
Guide may introduce or confirm data and concepts that could prove valuable for yourself, a
classmate or a member of university or law school staff who cares about both quality education
and equity.

A Few Thoughts on What We Learned
A central goal of this Guide has been to provide data and general insights that are useful in real
life for a student with a disability – regardless of which accommodation policies and practices
are officially offered in that student’s particular law school, university or bar admission program.
While all law schools considered in the preparation of this handbook recognize the needs of
students with disabilities, the approaches of the schools vary significantly. A few have firm
policies and systematic accommodation services, whose offerings are well publicized and used.
At the other end of the scale are faculties where accommodation seems to be ad hoc. As a result
of very recent enhancements, the Law Society of Upper Canada’s bar admission course, and
perhaps that of British Columbia, may offer accommodations for disability that are as good as
those provided by some of the better law school and university disability services programs. We
are hopeful that other bar admission programs across the country will also update their
approaches toward accommodations and we understand that a few are taking positive steps in
this regard.

Because students are not accorded a uniform opportunity for reasonable accommodations at law
schools and in Bar Ad programs across Canada, the effect is a denial of equal opportunity of
access to legal studies. Choices for students with disabilities are often restricted by practical
considerations that are of much less concern for students who do not have a known disability.
For example, a student with a disability is less likely to have a meaningful option of whether to
leave his or her hometown or university city to attend law school. As several survey participants
asked, “Why would we add hurdles to the challenge of law school by moving away from our
support networks?” Networks of family, friends and community services are often crucial to
independence and daily living.

The lack of consistency in accommodation services available in the twenty Canadian law schools
and in their universities and communities is a factor that a student with a disability must weigh
when deciding where to apply for admission to law school. Choosing the location at which to
take courses is also a significant consideration in many bar admission programs and in Québec’s
Notariat program.

There appears to be a general awareness at Canadian law schools and universities of the needs
and special circumstances of students with disabilities at the post-secondary level. Significant
progress was made during the latter part of the 20th century in responding to these needs but there
is definitely room for improvement. An objective of this Guide is to encourage and assist every
law school and bar admission program to strive for enhanced accommodations for students who
have disabilities.

We trust that this guidebook will help many law students with disabilities to become more aware,
better prepared and better equipped to self-advocate. We hope that the “survival tips” and the
references to resources and “best practices” will be useful for students and disability service
providers. We are somewhat optimistic in expressing this hope, because among the people who
researched, wrote and edited elements of this Guide, there are several law students and lawyers
with diverse disabilities who have successfully worked around these potential barriers in their
own careers.

                                     Table of Contents
1   Preparing for and Applying to Law School ......................................................................17

    1.1      Potential Unwelcome Surprises in the Law School Environment .............................17
    1.2      The Picture is Not All Negative .................................................................................3
    1.3      Selecting a Law School .............................................................................................3
    1.4      Preparing to Attend Law School ...............................................................................4
2   The Law School Admissions Process .................................................................................8

3   Law School Survival Tips – Advice from and for Students with Disabilities ................11

    3.1      Introduction ...............................................................................................................11
    3.2      Surviving First Year and Beyond: Twenty Tips from Lawyers and Law Students ...11
4   The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) ..........................................................................15

5   Administration of Policies on Education Accommodation ..............................................19

    5.1      University and Law School Services for Students with Disabilities .........................19
    5.2      Disabilities Experienced and Accommodated in Law School Education .................22
    5.3      Dealing with Attitudinal and Physical Barriers .........................................................24
    5.4      The Roles and (Varying) Attitudes of Law Professors ..............................................25
             5.4.1            Course and Instructor Evaluation ...............................................................27
    5.5      The Law Faculty’s Orientation Week .......................................................................27
6   Accommodation in the Classroom and in Other Instruction ..........................................29

    6.1      Introduction Concerning Instructional Accommodations .........................................29
    6.2      Teaching Methods .....................................................................................................30
    6.3      The Physical Environment .........................................................................................31
    6.4      Note Taking and Other Ways of Recording Lectures ...............................................31
    6.5      Adaptive Technologies ..............................................................................................32
    6.6      Tutorials and Mentoring ............................................................................................33
    6.7      Moot Court Programs ................................................................................................34
    6.8      Experiences and Insights Concerning Instructional Accommodations at Law
             School ........................................................................................................................34
             6.8.1            Negative Experiences and Insights ..............................................................34
             6.8.2            Positive Recollections and Recommendations ..............................................35
7    Accommodations Related to Text Books, Case Books and Other Course Materials ....37

     7.1        Introduction Concerning Course Readings and Materials .........................................37
     7.2        Experiences and Insights Concerning Accommodations Related to Course
                Readings and Materials at Law School .....................................................................38
                7.2.1            Negative Experiences and Insights ..............................................................38
                7.2.2            Positive Recollections and Recommendations ..............................................39
8    Libraries ...............................................................................................................................40

     8.1        Introduction Concerning Accommodations Related to Libraries ..............................40
                8.1.1            The Online Library Information System (OLLIS) .........................................42
     8.2        Accommodations Related to Libraries ......................................................................43
                8.2.1            Negative Experiences and Insights ..............................................................44
                8.2.2            Positive Recollections and Recommendations ..............................................44
9    Accommodations Related to Examinations and to Other Kinds of Evaluation ............45

     9.1        Introduction to Chapter 9 ...........................................................................................45
     9.2        Examination Accommodations ................................................................................47
     9.3        Anonymity Respecting Exam Accommodations .......................................................47
     9.4        Evaluation of Student Performance Respecting Other Course Components ............48
     9.5        Experiences and Insights Concerning Examinations and Other Kinds of valuation
                at Law School ............................................................................................................49
                9.5.1            Negative Experiences and Insights .............................................................49
                9.5.2            Positive Recollections and Recommendations ..............................................50
10   Educational, Social and Recreational Opportunities Outside of Regular Classes and
     Courses .................................................................................................................................51

     10.1       Introduction to Chapter 10 .........................................................................................51
     10.2       Student Legal Aid Clinics .........................................................................................51
     10.3       Other Extracurricular Activities with an Educational Element .................................53
     10.4       Students’ Associations ...............................................................................................53
11   Everyday Activities and Community Resources Not Connected to the Law School ....54

12   Accommodation Policies and Practices in Québec Law Schools and on their
     University Campuses ...........................................................................................................56

     12.1       Introduction to Chapter 12 .........................................................................................55
     12.2       The Québec Universities Framework Policy of 1994 ...............................................57
     12.3      Application of the 1994 Framework Policy by Québec Universities and Law
               Schools ......................................................................................................................58
     12.4      Access to Information About Accommodations ........................................................58
     12.5      Conditions for Accessing Services at the Office for Students with Disabilities .......60
     12.6      Services and Equipment Available ............................................................................61
     12.7      Classroom Instruction and Course Materials ...........................................................61
     12.8      Accommodation for Examinations and Other Forms of Evaluation.........................62
     12.9      Access to Buildings, Classrooms, Libraries, Technology Centres and Offices ........62
               12.9.1           Access to Buildings and Classrooms ............................................................62
               12.9.2           Access to Libraries, Technical Centres and Adaptive Technologies ...............63
               12.9.3           Access to Administrative Offices, Cafeterias, Washrooms, etc. ......................65
     12.10 Financial Assistance ..................................................................................................65
     12.11 Transportation and Parking .......................................................................................67
     12.12 Housing .....................................................................................................................68
     12.13 Other Information ......................................................................................................69
               12.13.1          Employment Issues ....................................................................................69
               12.13.2          Access to Athletic Facilities and Sports .......................................................70
               12.13.3          Access to Social Events ..............................................................................70
13   Financing for Law School and Other Expenses ...............................................................72

     13.1      Introduction to Chapter 13 .........................................................................................72
     13.2      Grants ........................................................................................................................73
     13.3      Government Loans .....................................................................................................73
     13.4      Private Institutional (Bank) Loans .............................................................................75
     13.5      Scholarships and Bursaries ........................................................................................75
     13.6      Provincial Social Assistance ......................................................................................76
     13.7      Experiences and Insights Concerning Financing ......................................................76
               13.7.1           Negative Experiences and Insights ..............................................................76
               13.7.2           Positive Recollections and Recommendations ..............................................77
14   Accommo dating for Disabilities in Provincial Bar Admission Courses and in
     Qualification Courses for Québec’s Notariat ....................................................................78

     14.1      Introduction to Chapter 14 .........................................................................................77
     14.2      Organization of Bar Admission and Notariat Programs ............................................80
           14.3       Challenges Faced by Bar Admission Candidates Who Have Disabilities .................82
                      14.3.1          Surviving in the Bar Admission Course Environment ...................................82
                      14.3.2          To disclose or not to disclose? That is the question ...................................83
                      14.3.3          Choosing a Location For The Program .......................................................84
                      14.3.4          Funding Issues For Bar Admission Candidates ............................................85
                      14.3.5          Attitudinal and Other Barriers in Bar Admission Programs - As Described
                                      By Survey Respondents ..............................................................................86
           14.4       Policies & Decision-Making Procedures Governing Disability Accommodations ...87
           14.5       Accommodations Offered and Experienced ..............................................................89
                      14.5.1          Course Attendance .....................................................................................89
                      14.5.2          Instruction .................................................................................................90
                      14.5.3          Educational Materials ................................................................................91
                      14.5.4          Examinations ............................................................................................91
           14.6       The End of the Course and Beyond ...........................................................................91
                      14.6.1          Student Evaluation of Bar Admission Courses ..............................................91
                      14.6.2          Adaptation for the Call to the Bar Ceremony ...............................................92
                      14.6.3          Career and Placement Services ...................................................................92
           14.7       Suggestions for the Future .........................................................................................92
15         Concluding Thoughts: Trends Observed and Accommodation Needs Still Unmet ......96

           15.1       Unresolved issues – A Few Concluding Observations ..............................................96
           15.2       Closing Thoughts from Law Students and Lawyers Who Have Disabilities ............97
                      15.2.1          Negative Experiences and Insights ..............................................................97
                      15.2.2          Positive Recollections and Recommendations ..............................................97
Bibliography ....................................................................................................................................99

                      Printed Resources ......................................................................................................99
                      Internet Resources .....................................................................................................101
                                      Funding and Finances ...............................................................................101
                                      Grants and Scholarship s ............................................................................101
                                      Adaptive Technology ..................................................................................103
                                      Student Organizations ................................................................................103
                                      Search Engines ..........................................................................................104
Appendix A: Law School and University Contact Information for Accommodation at
            Common Law Faculties in Canada ........................................................................106

                    General Law School Contact Information ................................................................106
                    Disability Accommodation Contacts At Faculties of Common Law ........................110
                    University Special Needs Offices / Disability Services Offices ...............................112
Appendix B: Directory for Civil Law Schools and Universities ................................................115

                    Québec .......................................................................................................................115
                    Civil Law Faculties Outside Quebec / Ecoles de Droit Civil hors Québec ...............117
Appendix C: Contacts for Disability Accommodation in Bar Admission and Notary
            Programs ...................................................................................................................119

                    Common Law Jurisdictions .......................................................................................119
                    Directory for the Québec Bar ....................................................................................121
                    Notary Programs ........................................................................................................123
Appendix D: Digest of Admissions Policies for Applicants with Disabilities at Faculties of
            Common Law ..........................................................................................................124

Chapter 1.0

1      Preparing for and Applying to Law School
This chapter can be helpful to anyone applying for admission to a law faculty but is of particular
significance for students who have disabilities. The chapter draws attention to features of law
school that may prove problematic for persons who have disabilities and who are trying to get
into or get ready for law school. The potential problems and remedial strategies discussed here
and in later chapters came to light through student surveys, “Focus Group” discussions with
groups of law students and lawyers with disabilities and the personal experiences of some
contributors to this guidebook.

The possible hurdles noted in these pages can often be circumvented or moderated if a student
seeks early advice and accommodations from law school and university officials responsible for
ensuring equitable treatment for students with disabilities.

1.1        Potential Unwelcome Surprises in the Law School

Advice given by a recent law graduate in Eastern Canada, in November 1999:

               “Before you apply to a law school you should visit it if you
               can. Do not believe the school officials if they say that the
               school is accessible. Ask to speak to students who have
               disabilities and who have attended that school. Try to find out
               if they have good mentoring or peer assistance procedures.”

Law school is an intensely competitive environment. Undergraduate curricula are generally more
flexible and often less academically demanding than those in law schools and the transition can be
overwhelming for many students. Dealing with a disability can magnify the pressure of trying to
keep up with required course work – and with classmates.

Surveyed participants in our target group of law students and lawyers stressed that their survival
and success depended on being highly organized, obtaining course materials as far in advance as
possible and working harder than most of their classmates. The volume of reading in preparation
for classes, examinations, research papers, and mock court exercises can be quite daunting.

Because law school is heavily information-based, students who have sensory disabilities may be
at a disadvantage. This includes blind or visually impaired students, deaf and hearing impaired
students and students who have a learning disability. Textbooks and other required reading
materials may not be available in alternate formats such as Braille, large print or computer
diskette. In addition, survey participants indicated that where materials were provided in an
alternative format, these frequently were not made available in a timely manner, putting recipients
at further disadvantage for assignments and class discussion. Inadequate access to library
materials in alternate formats has also been identified as a common problem. With enough
commitment and sensitivity to the needs of students with disabilities, law schools can prevent or
alleviate such circumstances. Students who have disabilities are advised, however, to be assertive
and persistent in their efforts to obtain timely and effective assistance. They should not count on
their law faculty or university being aware of the best means of accommodation for a particular
disability or student.

Law classes may last as long as three hours, which could be a concern for a student who has a
disability that makes it difficult to concentrate for lengthy periods. Some courses are offered only
in the later evening. This can be disconcerting for individuals with mobility impairments who
must make special transportation arrangements, or those who are easily fatigued.

A requirement of the upper year curricula for most schools is successful completion of a “moot
court” program. The mooting process involves preparing for and conducting a mock hearing
before a panel playing the role of judges. Some aspects of the moot court program can be difficult
for the participant who has a disability, such as the length and nature of the “hearing” and any
physical inaccessibility of the courtroom. Many students who do not have to deal with disability-
related hurdles find mooting exercises extremely taxing and stressful. They involve research
under time pressures, the drafting of voluminous supporting documentation and extensive
preparation for oral presentations (“oral argument”). The extent to which law schools
accommodate for disabilities in their moot court programs varies among faculties. Participation is
usually mandatory and a requirement for graduation, although exceptions may be made in certain
cases. Looking on the bright side, mooting takes up only one course and many people find it to be
fun. There are many skilled advocates practising today, who happen to have a disability, who
survived mooting in the years when obtaining accommodation for a disability was less of a
reasonable expectation than it is today.

1.2        The Picture is Not All Negative

Some aspects of law school are of benefit to a student with a disability. Class size is generally
small. Most schools assign all first year students to at least one course in a small group format,
ensuring that they have the opportunity to establish relationships with peers and faculty members.
In addition, many schools offer small tutorials to first year students under the auspices of
education equity programs. At the University of Ottawa, for example, tutorial sessions are
conducted by upper year students whose required qualifications include not only exceptional
academic standing but also the knowledge and empathy to respond to the special needs of
students who have disabilities. (Source: University of Ottawa website, re “academic support and
student life”).

A participant in one project Focus Group said that the law faculty at his university was more
accommodating to students with disabilities than some other faculties, which, unlike the law
faculty, did not have an equity officer.

Even at the largest law faculties, the average size of the entire first year class is small compared to
undergraduate courses in the wider university population, and most students interact with one
another regularly. Upper year classes are usually smaller than first year sessions, providing
students with the opportunity to establish and maintain rapport with others. Even in larger
courses, law students are often subdivided into smaller groups to work together on a problem.
Those with disabilities should not be reluctant to ask colleagues for assistance. Our Focus Group
participants told us that in their experience, despite the competitive image of law students, fellow
students were usually glad to offer assistance if asked.

If you are a person who prefers to work solo rather than collectively, there are other features of
legal education that you may prefer to consider. This is increasingly the era of Internet research.
A high proportion of legal research can be done by computer rather than through books stored in
libraries. If you have access to the right technology and supports, this shift toward the Internet can
mark an improvement over how someone with a disability similar to yours would have been able
to do research a decade ago. An advantage for law students generally is that during your law
school years, the Quicklaw on-line database is available free of charge.

1.3        Selecting a Law School

One question posed to our Focus Groups was this: “Did your disability affect your decision in
selecting the law school(s) to which you applied? Did the level of accessibility or services in the
surrounding community influence your decision?”

A typical answer was: “I had no choice but to attend law school in the city where I lived. My
doctor is here and my rehab is here. All of my support structure including my family is here. I
applied to only one law school. My other alternative was to take a Master’s course at another
university but that was not wheelchair friendly.”

Discussions prompted by the question posed made it clear that for many applicants to law school,
it would be difficult to attend a faculty in another city, instead of remaining in the town where
one’s family lives. You tend to stay where you already have a support network, such as a local
voluntary organization that focuses on disabilities in general or on your particular disability.
Moreover, a familiar group of family and friends can act as volunteer readers when the need
arises. Focus Group contributors also pointed out that they had acquired awareness of the kinds of
stress that arose from living and studying or working in their familiar surroundings. They did not
relish having to anticipate surprises that might be in store in a new locale.

A serious consideration for many discussion participants was the quality of special public
transportation available for people with disabilities. Major cities are more likely to have less
infrequent para-transit. Another consideration was whether there was adapted space in student
residences near a law school. If you want to go to a particular law school, however, your search
for an adapted residence room should not stop with the campus where the law school is located.
For example, one law student at Dalhousie lived in a student residence at nearby St. Mary’s
University, also in Halifax. At one Focus Group, a participant suggested that there were
advantages to attending a smaller school, where students with disabilities might obtain assistance
more easily.

Yet some larger schools may have better adaptive technology or other accommodations available
– though this level of technology and support is more dependent on an institution’s priorities than
on its size. There are a number of good places to learn about the kinds of highly useful
technologies that may be available at your law school, around the university corner or
downloadable from the Internet. The many worthwhile websites on adaptive technology include
those maintained by Carleton University
(http:/, Dawson College
(, the University of British Columbia
(, and Queen’s University
( At the latter site, see especially the (draft) Faculty

1.4        Preparing to Attend Law School

If you have the chance in advance, it would be advantageous to look for data on disability
accommodation on the websites and in the course calendars of law schools that you consider
attending. You should contact the equity and disability services offices at each such university
and law school, posing follow-up questions. (Contact numbers and Web addresses are listed in the
Appendices of this Guide.) Any questions that arise as a result of reading this guidebook may be
answered in detail by officials at each university.

If you are accepted into law school, or even before you apply to a particular law school, it is
worthwhile to make an appointment to visit the relevant university’s Disability Services Office,
long before classes begin. The student may wish to research the availability of supports and
programs and the general “atmosphere” of the university and identify any particular problems.
During the summer, the Disability Services Office may conduct orientation tours of the campus,
which could include an appointment with special needs staff, counselling to assist with
registration and a workshop with a learning skills counsellor. Depending on your circumstances,
and the nature or severity of your disabilities, the disability accommodations available at an
educational institution may be a minor variable when you decide which law school you truly want
to attend, or they may be the principal determining factor.

During the first visit to an Office for Students with Disabilities, bring any documentation
concerning your disability and the accommodations you have received in previous or current
education. Through advance inquiries and preparation, try to assure that your documents are
current and/or acceptable to the university, to avoid unnecessary delays in what are standard,
foreseeable procedures. Be as ready as you can be to explain and provide proof of specific
accommodations that you have received in previous or current education. With luck, you might be
able to arrange for important accommodations to be in place starting the first day of classes.

For many kinds of disabilities, a key kind of accommodation that should be set in motion several
months before courses begin is arranging to get course materials in advance, in any necessary
alternate format. This requires the cooperation of law school officials and professors, who are
generally required to have materials ready two or three months prior to classes anyway. First year
law subjects tend to be compulsory, so the content of the curriculum should normally be known
by the faculty well ahead of time. Nonetheless, it is prudent for the student to make timely
inquiries to ensure that course materials are readied on schedule, rather than depending entirely on
each professor. (Chapter 7 discusses accommodations vis-à-vis course materials.) A good
proportion of law students may not want to read course materials over the summer, but a student
with a severe disability may need the extra preparation time. A couple of contributors to research
for this Guide told the editor that summer preparation saved their hides in first year law school.

Most legal education institutions canvassed for this guidebook offer part-time programs that can
facilitate studies for individuals with disabilities. Part-time studies may be a key accommodation
answer for some individuals who need additional time for completing assignments or
examinations or who must rely partly on personal attendant assistance, which also involves
significant time and energy considerations. Applicants to law school ought to be aware that there
are usually only a few reserved places in first year for part-time students. Competition for these
places can be intense. The ways in which the part-time programs work vary considerably among
law faculties. If you need to attend law school part-time, before applying to a particular school
you should inquire as to the ways in which courses must be taken there. For example, one law
school requires students to take six core courses before they are permitted to take any upper level
courses. Students may apply for exemptions on an ad hoc basis but there is no guarantee that they
will receive what they ask for.

A discussion of things to consider prior to applying to law school would not be complete without
mentioning funding (which is discussed in Chapter 13). Financial assistance is an issue for any
student, but may be especially so for the student with special needs, which are not always covered
by support or assistance programs. Students should recognize that it could take a long time to
secure adequate funding for legal studies. The process may involve considerable paperwork,
communications headaches, and bureaucratic delays. When researching funding possibilities, you
must start well in advance of any admissions deadlines and be persistent. Students should be alert
to the likelihood that university funding constraints and government cutbacks could have an
adverse impact on the extent and quality of accommodations and supports. Moreover, the
application process itself can be expensive. For example, there are costs associated with writing
the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), which purports to assess one’s suitability for law school
and the legal profession. (The LSAT is discussed in Chapter 4.)

In Chapter 3, you can find practical advice from numerous students and lawyers across Canada
who have already coped with law school while managing a disability. Here’s an illustration:

Something to do in the summer before you begin law school:

             “Take time during the summer to meet with the dean, the
             associate dean and others to explain your disability and how
             it impacts on you. Start building solutions and understanding
             early. Gain a commitment that should the proposed
             accommodations not be successful they can be revisited.
             Don’t assume even people with the very best intentions know
             how to be of assistance. You may need to help them

Chapter 2.0

2      The Law School Admissions Process

Did the following situation happen to you when you applied for admission to a law school?

               Though law schools now provide disability accommodations
               for students, not all universities and law schools make
               information about accommodations available in alternate
               format such as Braille, audiotape or diskette. One survey
               participant was surprised (and not pleased) that he was
               forced to get someone else to complete his application forms
               for law school, because the documentation was not available
               in an alternate format.

Or did you have a more positive experience like the one described below?

               Mitch intended to pursue a law degree and took steps to
               ensure that his disabilities would not be an impediment. His
               undergraduate school had an effective accommodations
               policy that facilitated his learning experience. Knowing he
               would need a similar environment to succeed in law school,
               he did research before applying anywhere. (His strong
               academic qualifications allowed him a choice of schools.) He
               contacted the Deans at his “short list” of law faculties and the
               special needs coordinators at their universities, to learn about
               specific accommodations available. He selected a particular
               law school primarily on the basis of its superior framework of
               accommodations. He thought that his research time had been
               well spent, as he possessed a good picture of what he could
               expect when he arrived for first year and had a reasonable
               anticipation of being accommodated appropriately during his
               years of studying law.

Across the country, significant barriers to educational opportunities remain for students with
disabilities. Academic institutions have responded by adjusting their admissions policies to attain
more representative first-year classes. Many universities have implemented education equity
policies and programs to alleviate barriers and ensure that students with special needs are not only
admitted and graduate, but achieve their full academic potential. (Adapted from Donna Eansor
and Larry Chartrand, Canadian Law School Academic Access and Support Programs, 1997, at
page 1.) A general rule of thumb is that admission accommodations are independently
determined by each department or faculty, whereas academic accommodations are the
responsibility of the campus Disability Services Office, in association with a law school’s
designated equity official and the individual student.
There is no universally applicable standard against which applicants for law school admission are
measured. Each law school determines its own admissions guidelines. Most Canadian law schools
have established formal policies and practices by which to assess applications from candidates
who identify themselves as having a disability, but other schools take a more ad hoc approach.
The admissions policies of law schools outside of Québec are summarized in Appendix D, titled
“Digest of Admissions Policies for Applicants with Disabilities at Faculties of Common Law”.
The admissions policies of Québec law schools are noted in Chapter 12.

Individuals with disabilities may apply as regular applicants or in whichever discretionary
categories the law school may offer. There is no requirement that students with disabilities must
apply as discretionary applicants. However, in cases where the nature and extent of the disability
have a significant impact on undergraduate performance, we encourage applicants to apply as
discretionary candidates. This approach should help to ensure that the application is considered in
the context of all relevant factors.

Eligibility for special or discretionary categories of admission is not a guarantee of acceptance at
law school. Nor does eligibility ensure complete or satisfactory academic accommodation. Each
law school included in this study encourages individuals in certain “non-traditional” categories to
self- identify when applying. Those with a disability are generally asked to indicate how their
disability or related disadvantage may have adversely affected their academic performance or
ability to participate fully in undergraduate or extracurricular affairs. Although such
circumstances may be considered by a law faculty when evaluating candidates, there is no
obligation on law school admissions officials to place extra, if any, weight on them.

“It is not contrary to human rights law to ask applicants to self-identify if the purpose is to
overcome the effects of past discrimination. However, self-identification is a contentious issue for
people with disabilities. Historically, discriminatory stereotypes and assumptions have been used
to deny opportunities to people with disabilities. Consequently, direct questions about a person’s
disability may cause him or her to feel very anxious and fearful about disclosure.” (A Framework
for Action, at page 39).

Self-identification is voluntary and some students may decline to disclose a disability when
applying, concerned that the admissions committee may regard him or her as a less qualified or
“second rate” candidate as a result. Reluctance may be felt by those with learning or psychiatric
disabilities, who may hesitate to self-identify for fear that their disability will be mistakenly
equated with a below-average level of learning aptitude (Adapted from A Framework for Action,
at page 39). Also, other students may wrongly perceive an accommodation as an unfair
advantage, especially in the case of invisible disabilities.

Law schools sometimes ask applicants to use language that couches inquiries about disabilities in
negative terms. For example, an applicant may be asked to describe how his or her disability may
make it difficult to gain access to or excel in legal studies. Although questions about the effects of
discriminatory barriers can be informative, questions about how a disability has served as a source
of enrichment in a person’s life may be equally informative. (Adapted from A Framework for
Action, at page 38).

The admittance policies implemented by most law schools now involve multiple admissions
categories, which may include “Regular” applicants, “Discretionary” applicants (including
students with disabilities), “Mature” applicants and sometimes “Aboriginal” applicants. This
classification system is designed to ensure that all applicants are evaluated with their peers and
that circumstances that may have had adverse impacts on undergraduate performance do not
cause unfair disadvantage in the evaluation process. Some sources say that candidates are
applying to law school in unprecedented numbers, leading to escalated competition in all of the
admissions groups.

Participants at one focus group wondered why there could not be a programme set up for students
with disabilities that is similar to the pre-law programme for aboriginal students in Saskatchewan.
This course prepares aboriginal students for attending law school. Taking the course may be
linked to a conditional acceptance by a law school. One focus group participant suggested that
such a course would give students an accurate picture of what they would face at law school,
including the attitudes they would encounter. The course would also teach students how to do a
summary or “brief”, of a law case.

There is an accommodation element built into the system whereby students make one application
through a central agency for admission to any law school in Ontario. The application package
includes a Personal Statement in which the applicant may say why he or she wants to go to only
one of the schools, perhaps because of the local availablity of a suppport regime related to the
applicant’s disability. (Contact information for the Ontario Law School Application Service is
given at the end of the “General” list of law school data in Appendix A.

The consensus of those who participated in our research is that candidates with disabilities should
give themselves every fair opportunity to be competitive, including identifying any circumstance
that a law school admissions committee ought to take into consideration in evaluating their
applications. Little if anything will usually be gained from hiding a disability, whereas seeking
and receiving accommodations allows a student more scope for reaching her or his potential. A
student who is reluctant to disclose a non-visible disability might be able to arrange an
accommodation through a central Special Needs Office serving the whole university campus,
without law professors or classmates becoming aware of the disability or noticing that an
accommodation has been provided.

When choosing which applicants to admit, all faculties of law outside of Québec give some
consideration to applicants’ scores on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). As Chapter 4
explains, disability accommodation during LSAT testing may be available. In addition, some law
faculties choose to be flexible concerning the weight attached to LSAT scores for certain
candidates. (There may be one or two law schools that show such flexibility for all candidates, but
we have not been able to verify the existence of such a policy at any particular faculty. It is
worthwhile for the applicant to make his or her own inquiries on the issue.) While some schools
waive the LSAT requirement in exceptional cases, most require an LSAT score from each
student. Test scores are not weighed equally at all universities. Some schools place less emphasis
on LSAT results when considering applicants and more on a student’s personal traits and
experiences that could produce added educational benefit for that student or for classmates.
Others emphasize the difficulty of undergraduate courses in which the student has performed

well. Many, perhaps most, law school officials are aware that LSAT scores may be a flawed or
unrepresentative indication of a student’s capacity and should not be evaluated in isolation.

Most law schools and some bar admission programs offer students the possibility of studying
part-time as an accommodation for special needs. Some schools, for example Dalhousie Law
School, encourage students to take a reduced course load by studying part-time over a longer
period, if they need more time to accomplish their academic work. Focus Group participants also
said some good (but not uniformly good) things about part-time studies at UBC, Calgary, and
Victoria. (Other law schools may have equally fine part-time regimes, which survey respondents
did not happen to mention because of other personal priorities.) As we noted in Chapter 1, a law
school may reserve only a few places in first year for part-timers. Applicants should take this
potential limitation into account and not assume that they will automatically be accepted into a
part-time program.

Chapter 3.0

3      Law School Survival Tips – Advice from and for
       Students with Disabilities

3.1        Introduction

Legal education is a difficult and trying experience for virtually all students. As with many other
aspects of life, law school may present particular obstacles for students with disabilities. The
present chapter brings together practical hints for law students who have disabilities, as these
individuals approach and make their way though law school. Other perceptive observations from
lawyers and students who have overcome barriers during their own legal education are sprinkled
throughout this Guide.

The authors and most readers of the Guide know that there is no single “disability experience”.
Each person with a disability faces challenges unique to her or him. Bearing that caveat in mind,
we believe that the advice offered by many individuals through this chapter is worthwhile,
whatever one’s disability, personal situation or law school environment may be.

3.2        Surviving First Year and Beyond: Twenty Tips from Lawyers
           and Law Students

The twenty (plus) tips gathered here are all based on contributions offered in 1999-2000 by
Canadian law students and lawyers who have disabilities.

The first day of law school is usually the worst day. Some lawyers say that one of the most
difficult days in their lives was the opening day of law school. Everyone is nervous and believes
that everyone else is smarter, more confident, funnier, and so on. If you realize that almost
everyone feels this way -- including many of the professors -- it may help you to relax and gain

Get to know your neighbours . A familiar face or voice can make any situation less intimidating.
Do not be afraid to introduce yourself. The sooner you become familiar with your classmates, the
easier things will be. If you miss a class, need some feedback on an assignment, or require a
simple bonding session to bemoan the travails of law school, no one will be able to understand
your plight better than a fellow student. This is regardless of any disability. The common bond of
student suffering will be enough.

“The best way to cope through law school is to rely on the help of your friends. One strategic
move is to choose courses that a good friend is also taking.”

Surviving law school is not rocket science. There is an enormous swath of hard work to be done
outside the classroom. Develop a routine that succeeds for you and prepare yourself well for

Hardly anyone understands all nuances of a case the first time she or he reads it. Do not feel
overly discouraged if it takes you more than one reading to comprehend everything fully. Most
classmates will need to re-read certain material, no matter what they tell you. Only an over-
confident or slack lawyer would not make it a rule to re-read cases and documents in professional
practice. (And see the item on CANS, below.)

Set goals that matter to you and take reasonable steps to continue achieving them. Although
we should all theoretically strive to maximize our potential, not everyone has a goal of being an
A+ student. Realistically, not everyone can achieve this objective. Keep your own goals in mind
and keep asking yourself if what you are doing is helping you to get there. Locate and surround
yourself with the proper tools and resources.

Don’t be shy if you run up against unfair or arbitrary barriers . Take whatever reasonable and
ethical steps are necessary to overcome them.

Be firm about what accommodations you need, but don’t whine. Be assertive but never
aggressive. At times, it may seem difficult to break down barriers. Attempt to educate both staff
and other students about what accommodations and/or adaptations you may need, but do not
dwell on them obsessively.

“My approach is to let teachers and other officials know that (a) I am quite capable of doing the
work if (b) you give me the accommodation that I need and (c) this is the specific help I am

“There may be very sympathetic people on an admissions committee or an equity committee
dealing with accommodations for exams or courses. Sometimes they do not know how they can
assist you and it is part of your job to help them understand.”

Be prepared to explain the nature and results of your disability, when appropriate. You can
help others to gain an understanding of why you need certain accommodations.

“Although you may be reluctant to reveal your disability and you may be annoyed to have to tell,
the fact is you do have an obligation to tell in order to get accommodation, especially if your
disability is not obvious.”

If you have an opinion that is based on your direct knowledge of disability issues, do not be
afraid to express it in class or elsewhere. Sometimes you will be uncomfortable with the
attention that your disability may draw. During your time at law school, you will discuss hundreds
of cases. Sooner or later, a case will arise that deals with a situation similar to what you face or
have faced because of your disability. Your position as a person with a disability will place you in
a position of wanting to or being expected to express an opinion. Your own views may be
controversial or even inconsistent with the law. The best course of action in this instance is simply
to speak your mind. Most people will respect your courage and fortitude. Do not undermine your

cause by being be abrupt, aggressive and/or defensive. Try always to speak with confidence and

Balance your life. There really is more to your existence than law school. Lawyers and law
students do not always take time for the facets of life and self that do not revolve around careers.
Expose yourself to the entire experience of what your law school and the surrounding community
and environment have to offer, not just the books and exams. This will likely assist your personal
capacity to do well in law school and in the legal profession.

Cultivate supportive relationships and networks.

   a) “During the first week of law school, try to buy the administrator a coffee or beer. Get to
      know the administrator, the disability service provider, and other people in the law school
      administration. Build up a relationship with them and with your professors.”

   b) “Try to find a friend or a person on the faculty who can act as your guide to help you deal
      with your ‘exceptionalities’”.

   c) “Try to line up your own support system. Know where you can get your resources. Try to
      keep contact with people who know your capability and can vouch for you when

If someone turns to down your reasonable request for an accommodation, take the steps
that a lawyer would. Gather your facts and arguments and look for avenues of review or appeal.
“When someone in the faculty or administration says no to an accommodation request,
[remember that] the student can turn to the appropriate committees of the law school or the
faculty council who have the power to tell the professor what to do.”

There is no law against a second opinion or a second thought about a specific
accommodation. If an accommodation suggested by one professional does not seem adequate or
appropriate for you, or if an accommodation does not work out well in practice, you are generally
permitted and even encouraged to “revisit” the problem to find a better answer.

“It is important to remember that the student does not necessarily have to accept what is
recommended by the campus Special Needs Office. An assertive student may want to obtain the
assistance of his/her own contact, for example an educational psychologist.”

Students should raise questions and awareness about perceived barriers . They should not
just sit back and accept difficulties that are placed in their way. Even good law school policies
cannot anticipate all problems. “After first year, I began to develop a somewhat thicker skin as I
came to know the system better. I found that it helped to ask teachers and law school officials a
lot of questions pertaining to barriers that I encountered. That way the problems became their
problems and not just my problem.”

Neither you nor the law school administration know all of the answers. You do need to make
formal accommodation arrangements with the law school. But “you must realize that these
arrangements are not fixed in concrete and can be revised if they don’t work out”. A particular
accommodation approach may prove inadequate for many reasons. For example, since disabilities
change over time, the kind of accommodations may also need to be changed.
Coping strategies that worked in undergraduate studies might not work as well in law
school. For example, one student often chose courses at university based on the attitude of
professors towards students with disabilities. In law school, a high percentage of courses were
prescribed, so this alternative was not as readily available.

The reduced course load associated with studying part-time could be your individual key to
equal opportunity, but part-time studies do have downsides. Problems can arise if you cannot
take two related courses in their logical sequence. For example, a practical exercise might be
undertaken by you before the theoretical phase of the combined course. Moreover, since exam
questions generally relate to the way a course is taught in the immediate academic year, a
question on an exam could surprise you by being disconnected from how a part of the course was
taught when you studied it. Since some optional course are taught in only alternate years, the
usual rules of how popular course are allotted may also work against you. To avoid or overcome
unwelcome news as a part-time student, you need to plan strategically; and you may need some
novel accommodations.

If you can, locate and acquire sets of student summaries of the cases that are covered in law
courses from year to year. (In some parts of Canada, these informal “underground” Case Note
Summaries are called “CANS”.) Professors and judges will tell you - correctly - that if you read
only a summary of a case, you could obtain a misleading understanding of the facts or the law and
will miss an opportunity to develop your legal reasoning skills further. Even the “headnote”
summaries that precede each case reported in law report volumes occasionally contain serious
errors. The likelihood that summaries prepared by law student classmates will be flawed is fairly
high. Yet there is also a chance that you would misread aspects of the original assigned cases or
case extracts, assuming that you have time to review all of them.

Even if you are able to complete all assigned reading without relying on summaries, a “good” set
of case summaries can be a relief to have on hand when studying for exams, whether the
summaries were prepared by you, your own cooperative study group, or someone else.
A recent graduate from a law school in Atlantic Canada was less equivocal in his advice:

“Get hold of the CANS. Try to get as many of these as possible in the same subject area from
people who have taken the course in the past.”

Competition for admission to a law faculty is strong and it is an accomplishment for anyone
to be accepted into law school. Recall what you had to overcome to get to this point.

A significant difference between you and most of your classmates is that you have often
needed to fight for your rights. In some situations, you have needed to present evidence
justifying an accommodation and you have then had to negotiate the appropriate accommodation.
Over time, you may have acquired skills that put you a step ahead of the average person when it
comes to problem solving, advocacy, and negotiation. Your life experiences could assist you
during law school and may benefit clients whose rights and objectives you later help to secure as
a lawyer.

Chapter 4

4      The Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

One Canadian student’s experience writing the LSAT:

              “A student was denied accommodation when writing her Law
              School Admission Test, because her request for occasional
              breaks during testing was received one day late by the Law
              School Admission Council. She decided to write the LSAT
              without accommodation, but could not concentrate because
              of pain. Unable to complete the test, the candidate scored
              poorly. She later wrote another LSAT, this time with the
              needed accommodation, and her score improved “by 25

Almost all applicants to most law schools in the United States and Canada (outside of Québec)
must write a standardized Law School Admission Test. The LSAT (often pronounced “Elsat”) is
intended to gauge the candidates’ suitability/capability for the legal profession. This chapter
considers steps taken by the administrators of the LSAT, the Law School Admission Council
(LSAC) to incorporate the concept of reasonable accommodation (see the Preface) into the
administration of the LSAT. LSAC states a commitment to provide accommodations to students
with disabilities. Many of the participants in our project surveys and focus groups, however,
expressed concern regarding their LSAT experiences. In numerous cases the LSAT process
remains an exercise that students who have disabilities find unfair and intimidating.

The LSAT test scores are an integral component of evaluation criteria employed by law schools
and greatly influence most students’ chances of admission to a faculty of law. In recent years,
LSAC has developed a policy of accommodations for persons with disabilities. Yet many
Canadian law students and lawyers have said that their performance on the LSAT was hindered
by their disability and/or by inadequate consideration of their special needs during the testing
process. These contributors to our project data did not regard their LSAT results as an accurate
indication of their ability to succeed in legal studies. We have no reasonably attainable way of
discovering how many individuals, if any, believe that they failed to gain admission to a Canadian
law school, or to the school of their choice, because of inadequacies in LSAC’s accommodations
regime. LSAC permits an individual to take the Test three times within a 2-year period. The law
schools to which one applies are informed that the Test has been rewritten.

LSAC pledges that accommodations may be made available to individuals with documented
disabilities who wish to write the Test. To receive an accommodation, individuals must request it
from LSAC well in advance. One cannot simply show up for the LSAT and expect to have
accommodations provided. Applicants can obtain an accommodation request packet in several

      a) a)    online at or via e-mail at

      b) b) by writing to Law School Admission Council, Test Administration, Testing
         Accommodation Section, Box 2000-T, 661 Penn Street, Newton P.A., 18940-0995,

      c) c)    by calling (215) 968-1001

LSAC also makes information available at all Canadian universities and law schools as well as at
student counselling offices. Valuable additional information on the LSAT, for students in any
province, may be found on the website of the Ontario Law School Application Service
( / Service ontarien de demande d’admission en droit
( For the year 2000-2001, there is a fee of $122 (Canadian) plus
tax to write the LSAT. There is a late registration fee of $74 and additional fees related to
changing a test centre ($37) or a test date ($37). Fees are non- refundable and are the
responsibility of the student.

Some survey participants found that LSAT preparation courses (which can be expensive) were
beneficial, while others did not. An alternative or additional way to prepare for the LSAT is to
practise with sample questions and/or to study with someone else who will be taking the test.
LSAT preparation materials are available for an additional fee from LSAC. A free sample test
may be downloaded from the LSAC website.

LSAC offers “reasonable” efforts to provide accommodations specific to the nature of an
applicant’s disability. They provide testing in a number of alternate formats, including 18 point
print, Braille and audiocassette. Accommodations may include the use of a reader, a scribe, an
accessible testing centre, or additional test time. When seeking an accommodation, individuals are
requested to refer to any and all arrangements that will be necessary for them to write a more
successful LSAT.

Although LSAC says that it will review every request that it receives, the mere submission of an
accommodation request does not necessarily lead to a testing accommodation. Evaluation of the
request must meet LSAC’s current criteria. The organization reserves the right to make the final
judgement regarding testing accommodations.

In order to receive an accommodation, the candidate must be registered to take the exam and must
have submitted all of the required forms in the accommodation request packet. This packet will be
sent to one’s home by LSAC. Contained in this packet are forms that the applicant and a licensed
specialist or doctor must complete. Physical and cognitive disabilities require different supporting
documentation. Applicants with cognitive disabilities must provide the results of a
neuropsychological or psycho-educational examination, a family history, the results of aptitude
testing and a psycho-social history.

People who are requesting accommodations must submit requests before the posted deadline.
LSAC will not accept requests for accommodations that are late, incomplete or unsupported by
the documentation that LSAC deems proper. LSAC suggests that applicants needing

accommodation apply well in advance of the deadline to ensure that their accommodation needs
can be met.
Students who apply for additional test time on the LSAT should be aware that LSAC
automatically sends a statement to all law schools to which the accommodated student applied,
indicating that an accommodation has been given and stating that his or her individual score
should be interpreted with sensitivity and flexibility. Further to this, scores that have been
achieved with extra time are not averaged in with the scores achieved by candidates who received
the standard amount of time, nor ranked according to percentiles. Rather, the raw score achieved
by the student is reported individually to the law schools.

Many survey participants expressed reservation about the accommodation request process
because they felt they were being forced to prove their disability in order to justify their request.
This is particularly true for “invisible” disabilities such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and
chronic fatigue, according to our research input. LSAC treats certain disabilities more
restrictively, and candidates dealing with these disabilities have had more difficulty in receiving
accommodations. Denial of accommodation occurs frequently enough that the process has come
under Justice Department scrutiny in the USA. LSAC has come under fire from some quarters for
allegedly being insensitive and unresponsive to special needs and for alleged discrimination.

One U.S. student’s experience with the LSAC:

               On January 18, 2000, Lise Dorfsman and others launched a
               class action discrimination lawsuit against LSAC, after her
               accommodation request for the LSAT was denied. She
               argued that she was entitled to special arrangements under
               federal law concerning disabilities, because she has ADD and
               bipolar disorder (“manic depression”). Ms. Dorfsman was
               diagnosed with these conditions in 1997. She had received
               examination accommodation as an undergraduate, consisting
               of extra time on exams and a private room for testing. She
               provided LSAC with reports from a psychiatrist and a
               neurological diagnostic technician, recommending that she
               receive similar accommodations for the LSAT. As of June
               2000, the litigation was still in the stage of pre-trial motions,
               with the LSAC seeking to have the case dismissed.

Counsel for LSAC responded that candidates who want special accommodations must provide
convincing documentation that they suffer from a “significant” disability. “There is no evidence
that Ms. Dorfsman is substantially impaired relative to the general population...[and] test- taking
anxiety is not considered a disability under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).” Critics
argue that LSAC’s position downplays the difficulty of quantifying the impact that a disability
has on a person and of rating it on a continuum. Each person’s case is unique.

Ms. Dorfsman was distressed by what she saw as LSAC’s requirement that she provide
conclusive proof of her disability. She reported scoring in the bottom 29.8 percentile when
writing a practice LSAT without accommodations. With the desired accommodations, she was
ranked in the top 6.7 percentile.

Our survey results indicated that students with physical disabilities also had some difficulties with
the LSAT accommodation procedure. Although respondents with physical disabilities generally
stated that they received the accommodations requested, the way that the accommodation was
given did not always allow them to write the LSAT to the best of their abilities. Individuals taking
the Test were not allowed an opportunity to practice a sample LSAT examination with the scribe
appointed to assist that individual.

In the experience of our respondents, all scribes and other assistants were chosen by LSAC and
the student was not given the opportunity to participate in the selection process. This approach
can lead to serious negative consequences. Everyone has his or her own style for drawing
diagrams that may be part of an LSAT exam - or for describing or comparing pictorial or graphic
images to a scribe. Test takers complained that if they had been given the opportunity to work
with the scribe before being tested, or had been able to bring their own experienced scribe,
problems encountered in the test could easily have been avoided.

A Few Tips for Individuals Writing LSAT’s
Any student who may require accommodations for the LSAT should visit the LSAT website,
obtain the accommodation request package from LSAC right away and immediately contact
LSAC with any follow-up questions. The applicant must learn as early as possible exactly which
documentation will be needed to bolster the accommodation request and arrange to obtain it from
the appropriate experts.

Although it may be disconcerting to be required to prove one’s disability, it is currently the only
process for receiving LSAT accommodation. You should recognize that if your application needs
to include the opinion of a medical or other expert, it may take longer than you wish to acquire an
appointment and a report. You want to be sure that delays in submitting documentation do not
cause your registration or request for accommodation to be late. In case any problems arise
between you and LSAC with regard to any documentation or accommodation issue, try to leave
yourself a span of time to resolve them before the LSAT date.

LSAC’s accommodation practices are challenged in another U.S. case:

               In December 1999, shortly before Lise Dorfsman announced
               her planned lawsuit, the U.S. Justice Department sued LSAC
               for denying test accommodations to four people with physical
               disabilities such as cerebral palsy and rheumatoid arthritis.1

                 The sources for information on law suits involving LSAC were articles by
               reporter Roberto Sanchez in the SeattleTimes, on December 22, 1999 and January
               8, 2000 and subsequent e-mails among Canadian and U.S. disability rights
               advocates. After writing to hundreds of top corporate executives seeking financial
               assistance for her suit, Ms. Dorfsman was reportedly offered supportive financing
               by Steve Wozniak, who with Steve Jobs had founded Apple Computer in 1976.
Chapter 5.0

5      Administration of Policies on Education

5.1        University and Law School Services for Students with

All universities and law schools examined in preparation of this Guide have policies and
procedures to address the needs of students who have disabilities. Nevertheless, the Guide’s
authors advise students to research the disability accommodation framework in place for any law
faculty before applying for admission, as there may be significant variances among law schools in
the extent and quality of assistance available. As was noted in an earlier chapter, accommodations
policies and procedures governing admission to a law school are determined by the faculty itself,
while accommodations pertaining to the enrolled student population involve a cooperative effort
between the law faculty and the overall campus administration.

For any individual in society who has a disability, there is no such thing as “one-stop shopping”
for accommodations that can remove barriers to equal opportunity. The situation is the same at
law school. Each Canadian University has a central office responsible for providing supports and
services to all students with disabilities. In addition, most law schools have a designated staff
representative or contact person for students who have disabilities. (See the contact lists in the
Appendices.) One or two law faculties have a full-time equity officer who provides advice and
assistance to students from traditionally under-represented groups, including people with

On different campuses, the central university service assisting students who have a disability is
called a Special Needs Office, Disability Services Office, Disability Resource Centre, or
Office/Service for Students with Disabilities. In this chapter, we tend to use these terms
interchangeably. Those who work with or on behalf of students through these Offices or Services
are known collectively as Disability Service Providers. To be eligible for disability
accommodation, the student must register with the Office or Service at his or her university and
provide documentation (usually medical reports) supporting the claim for accommodation. (Self-
identification by a person with a disability when the student applies to law school does not open
the door to required services or supports.) Disability Service Providers pledge to ensure
confidentiality for clients (i.e., students who have special needs).

The law faculty generally cooperates with the Special Needs Office/Disability Services Office,
ideally to determine and offer the best responses for each student’s needs. Most such Offices
and/or the law schools provide or arrange for services such as sign language interpretation and use
of computer-based technology. Important accommodations are also offered by library staff at the
law faculty and on the main campus. Often associated with a library, but sometimes in units of
their own, are services housing specialized technological adaptation devices (e.g. screen readers,
scanners and voice recognition software) for use by students with disabilities. These services or
labs are staffed by people who help students (and faculty) to benefit from the technologies. If a
matter for which accommodation is needed pertains to daily living, however, rather than to
studies and examinations, the student with a disability needs to turn first to other offices, perhaps
one focused on housing, student financial assistance or transportation, with only occasional
advice from the central Special Needs Office/Disability Services Office.

Students should not assume that staff at their law faculty and the Office/Service for Students with
Disabilities are automatically aware of the programs offered by each other, nor of all available
options. Some survey participants expressed frustration over procedural inconsistencies and a lack
of communication between university and faculty offices. These survey respondents said they
often had to become advocates for themselves in order to get required assistance.

Disability Service Providers and law faculties share the duty and usually the objective to ensure
that students with disabilities enjoy an opportunity to achieve their full academic potential. Yet
the accommodations available to students through Disability Services Offices and law faculties
depend on administrative priorities, the availability of financing, the knowledge and dedication of
individual law school and university staff and the persistence of students themselves. It is prudent
and responsible for students with disabilities to establish initial and continuing contact with their
university’s Disability Service Providers, as well as the law school’s equity representative(s), to
discuss required accommodations.

Within each law school, there are at least a couple of staff members with direct responsibility to
facilitate accommodations for students with disabilities. Because applicants with disabilities are
curious about accommodations available at law schools, and some schools are more open to
accepting applicants with diverse backgrounds, every Admissions office maintains a degree of
awareness about disability-related barriers and accommodations. (Individuals in the Admissions
office sometimes take a continuing interest in the progress made by students who have sought
their advice early in their law school careers.) There is also at least one staff member in the
faculty designated as the main contact for enrolled students who have disability-related requests,
often a Vice Dean or Director of Academic Affairs. Every Law Dean must have some knowledge
about disability accommodations; a few Deans in Canada have strongly progressive views and
knowledge in this area. Normally, because Deans have so many duties, a Vice-Dean, Associate
Dean or Director of Academic Affairs holds or shares primary responsibility for disability-related
matters; again a few such individuals were praised by students whom we surveyed.

In some law schools, there is a professor who, along with a teaching role, has the title and
responsibility for promoting equity on behalf of traditionally under-represented groups, including
people with disabilities. The proportion of time allotted between these dual roles varies among
schools. In a small minority of schools, such as the University of Ottawa Common Law Faculty,
there is a full-time equity officer or a law teacher whose primary responsibility rests with equity
promotion. (Students and lawyers surveyed were supportive of the work done by these more
focused officers.) If students are fortunate, in addition to faculty personnel with official
responsibilities for facilitating accommodations, there will be one or two professors who
informally act as a resource for students who seek assistance. A few such professors in Canada
also have a disability and thus can enlighten students and fellow faculty about accommodation
issues, based partly on challenges that the professors faced for themselves when they were
students. The law school might also have a committee charged with monitoring equity policies
and realities at the faculty. In addition, committees dealing with teaching or examinations

occasionally handle issues related to the impact that school practices have on students with

Given the number of individuals and offices touching on aspects of accommodation for
disabilities, it is not surprising that coordination among them sometimes falls short of a student’s
expectations. It is wise for the student to assume that she or he must often act as her or his
principal coordination agent; this is not the ideal situation, since law school per se presents
enough challenges for anyone. Because a student must sometimes take charge in order to have
accommodation rights implemented adequately and on time, the student should recognize that he
or she is not always obliged to seek resolutions for problems by approaching the officially
assigned staff person. If the student has a better rapport with another individual on the staff of
either the university or the law faculty, the student may prefer to test the waters first with that
individual. Perhaps, in the student’s opinion, the latter individual has positive traits that are
lacking in the person designated by the particular institution as the contact for students with
disabilities. Since successful accommodation requires a co-operative effort among many people,
the student should seek paths that are most likely to be compatible with the student’s overall
interests, including goal achievement and self respect. Inevitably, for some accommodation
issues, there will be only one door that the student is permitted to go through, but there is no harm
in finding good allies and advisers before approaching that door.

Good accommodation policies and intentions do not of course guarantee equitable participation
for students who have disabilities. Law students and personnel in university and law school
administrations may have different perceptions about the actual effectiveness of proper-sounding
accommodation policies and procedures. This divergence of views could arise from many
possible causes: if a particular student’s disability has not previously been accommodated by the
institution; if the institution does not systematically keep track of successful accommodations
provided for students in the past; or if officials think that for each disability there is a standard
accommodation that fits the circumstances of every person who (apparently) has that disability.
Our research results indicate that universities and law faculties are likely to rate their
accommodations programs and policies more favourably than do the students at whom they are

We heard from survey respondents that not all Disability Services Offices publicize their services
well, with the result that many students remain unaware of available supports. A few survey
participants expressed frustration at discovering the availability of accommodation options too
late to be of real assistance. They suggested that Disability Services Offices take more active
measures to improve awareness of potential accommodations. A concern commonly identified in
our survey was that Disability Service Providers did not take an active enough part in orientation
week activities. Many survey participants stated that disability issues were not discussed in a
meaningful way by law schools during orientation and that orientation materials were not
provided in alternate formats. Improved promotion of disability services during orientation would
likely result in more students coming forward to learn about choices available to them.

5.2        Disabilities Experienced and Accommodated in Law School

The types of disabilities that can have an impact on a student’s experience are extremely diverse.
Not all post-secondary institutions are well equipped to accommodate each of them. Disabilities
for which accommodations may be needed include:

•   Deafness or hearing loss
•   Blindness or visual impairment
•   Learning and cognitive disabilities
•   Acquired brain injuries
•   Mobility disabilities
•   Functional or fine motor disabilities
•   Chronic health conditions (such as cancer, lupus, chronic fatigue syndrome, epilepsy,
    fibromyalgia and inflammatory bowel disease)
•   Psychiatric or mental disorders (such as depressive disorders, acute stress disorder, panic
    attacks, post traumatic stress disorders, and schizophrenia)
•   Temporary disabilities (such as fractures, infections and surgical recovery)
•   Multiple disabilities

(The above list was adapted from A Framework for Action, page 9.)

The following is an non-exclusive list of services and supports commonly provided by special
needs offices, categorized by disability type; the level and quality of available services naturally
vary among the law schools and universities.

Deafness or hearing impairment
• Note taking
• Computerized note taking
• Special arrangements for assignments and examinations
• Tutoring
• Sign language interpretation

Equipment and Facilities
• FM systems
• Telecommunications device (TTY) and Pay Phone TTY’s
• Flashing indicators in campus residences
• Specialized computer software
• Portable computer
• Study room

Mobility Impairments
• Note taking
• Scribe
•   Library research assistance
•   Special arrangements for examinations and assignments
•   Campus escort

Equipment and Facilities
• Wheelchairs
• Portable ramps
• Specialized computer software
• Study room
• Computer assistance

Blindness and Visual Disabilities
• Note taking
• Scribe
• Library research assistance
• Special arrangements for examinations and assignments
• Campus escort

Equipment and Facilities
• Braille texts and materials
• Books and materials on audiotape or in large print
• Tape recorders
• Specialized computer software
• Specialized computer hardware (such as large screen monitors)
• Speech synthesizers and voice dictation
• Publication scanner

Learning disabilities
• Note taking
• Library research assistance
• Special accommodation for examinations and assignments
• Campus escort
• Scribe
• Tutoring

Equipment and Facilities
• Specialized computer software
• Tape recorders
• Audiotape books

Should you require any of the above, or other accommodation services and equipment, it is best to
notify the Special Needs Office/Disability Services Office and/or your law school’s designated
equity representative, as early as possible. Staff are unlikely to guarantee a full range of services
if students contact them too late in the term. Demand may be high for both equipment and

Some universities distinguish between two groups of disabilities, though the categories may
overlap somewhat. One group includes all physical and sensory disabilities (motor impairments,
visual, and hearing impairment and chronic health conditions). The other includes impairments
that affect one’s capacity to process, record, and communicate information. Disabilities in the
latter category, learning disabilities in particular, have only recently been accorded serious
attention with respect to accommodations. In the past, learning disabilities were undiagnosed or
wrongly diagnosed and the students affected were discouraged from post-secondary education. As
one result of increasing awareness among Disability Service Providers and others in academic
settings, students with learning disabilities comprise a growing segment of the law student
population (A Framework for Action, at page 8).

Most Canadian law schools have implemented accommodation policies to address educational
barriers that students with learning disabilities encounter. As but one example, a student at
Osgoode Hall Law School who has such a disability could benefit from York University’s
Learning Disabilities Program, which offers confidential services and supports to students
diagnosed with learning disabilities in any York faculty. (Source: York University website).

5.3        Dealing with Attitudinal and Physical Barriers

Most universities have focused considerable attention on removing physical barriers, yet we know
that numerous law school buildings, both old and fairly new, are still not fully accessible. In
recent years, a number of law faculties have made serious efforts to remedy design flaws that
made many parts of their facilities inaccessible. We are referring here not only to physical access,
but also to such features as markings and electronic sounds that indicate room numbers and floor
numbers for classrooms, offices, elevators and staircases, for people with visual (and other)
disabilities. Major changes require considerable time and money, but a faculty that is well
motivated can eventually do the planning and obtain the resources.
Here are only a few examples:
   a) In recent years, Dalhousie Law School undertook major renovations after carrying out an
      accessibility audit of its main building and library.

d) The University of Ottawa Faculty of Law has conducted a similar study of access issues, with
   a view to appropriate refurbishment when funding permits.

e) In the summer of 2000, to assist students (and others) with mobility impairments, McGill Law
   School is installing an elevator to aid access to the front of its steeply inclined Moot Court
   room, thus facilitating opportunities for anyone to make presentations.

f) Dalhousie transferred the location of its student legal aid clinic from an inaccessible space to a
   building permitting access for students and others with mobility impairments.

Useful adjustments can often be made in the short term to work around barriers, without a great
deal of complication or expense. In many cases, a faculty of law will change the location of a
class to accommodate students who have mobility or other impairments. Faculty and
administrative offices are not always wheelchair accessible, but most teachers and staff are

willing to make arrangements to meet with students in an accessible location. Classmates can also
help to work around barriers. For example, the law bookstore at McGill is not wheelchair
accessible. One effort to overcome this hurdle has been an informal system in which volunteers
coordinated by the Law Students’ Association act as couriers to obtain materials for students who
have a mobility impairment. During one visit to McGill, however, the editor saw how this
informal system can falter in practice. A student who promised to retrieve books missed an
appointment to hand them over to a classmate, who needed them for course preparation. Given
the potential complexity of a law student’s day, it was not surprising to hear that such missed
connections had occurred before.

Ideally, the kinds of arrangements noted in the previous paragraph would be treated as only
temporary and incomplete solutions. As soon as resources are available, the appropriate approach
would be to render classrooms, libraries, offices, bookstores, computer rooms, and other facilities

A savvy law school equity contact officer or disability service provider will maintain a list of
equipment or building renovations needed so that if funds become available she or he will be in a
position to make a quick grant application. Not all problems can be fixed immediately, but if the
official has the data ready, he or she can move fast when money for capital expenditures suddenly
becomes available. An example related to the writer involved relocation of heating vents in one
law school classroom. Until the renovation, the vents blasted air at the only spot in the room
where it would be appropriate for somebody in wheelchair to sit.

5.4        The Roles and (Varying) Attitudes of Law Professors

The Special Needs Office has an obligation to educate the larger university community about
disability issues, to prevent misunderstanding of the objectives of accommodation. Law faculties
should (and some do) assume a similar responsibility. A majority of survey participants indicated
that the most law school faculty, administration and staff were sensitive to their needs and made
efforts to accommodate them. Most had not encountered attitudinal barriers from faculty. There
were exceptions reported, however, not only by students, but by faculty members who criticized
regressive attitudes or conduct on the part of fellow law teachers.

We heard that many students and even faculty members still perversely perceive academic
accommodation as “favouritism” or as permitting lower standards. Such attitudes may contribute
to isolation for an individual student who has a disability and can have a direct impact on the
quality of his or her law school experience. This may be especially so for students with non-
visible impairments such as learning disabilities. They may already be reluctant to request help
because they are unsure of how their needs will be perceived by others. One survey respondent
who has a learning disability stated that some law faculty members objected to his tape recording
of lectures, embarrassed him in front of peers and violated confidentiality with respect to his

Some law schools, such as Saskatchewan’s, have been providing faculty members with
handbooks about disability issues and the accommodations that may be required by students.

Saskatchewan’s thorough manual for all professors is called University of Saskatchewan
Guidebook - Teaching Students with Disabilities.

During consultations over the past year on the question of whether students should arrange
accommodations individually with law professors, the editor obtained advice that, on the surface,
appeared to be mutually contradictory. A few professors, as well as university publications for
students with disabilities, were indicating that students should seek accommodations with
individual professors. Students with disabilities were encouraged to identify themselves to their
professors early in the academic term and advise them about their disabilities and any special
needs. For example, a University of Calgary publication says that the key to obtaining co-
operation is to give each instructor an understanding of your specific situation. Once they know
how your disability affects you as a student, they can work with you to accommodate your
specific needs (University of Calgary Disability Resource Centre Handbook, at page 7).

Others with expertise on provision of accommodations suggested that making ad hoc
arrangements with professors is not the preferred approach. By arranging accommodations
through the university’s Office for Students with Disabilities or the law school’s equity officer,
the student gains access to a bank of knowledge (and a support system) based on experience with
similar disabilities and past solutions. We know that each person’s situation is unique, but one can
benefit from examination of lessons learned previously. Moreover, the experience obtained by the
current student’s experience could add to the shared databank to benefit others.

Except for those students with an invisible disability who choose not to self-identify, or students
who obtain examination accommodations without a professor’s knowledge, the writer thinks that
students are well advised in most cases to discuss accommodations in advance with individual
professors. In the writer’s view, however, it is prudent to precede this step with a discussion
between the student and the law school’s equity officer and/or the university’s Special Needs
Office. The student can thereby learn the range of options available and the potential best avenues
for the particular student to explore. As we say often in this Guide, any accommodations ensuing
are likely to involve cooperation among a number of parties. It is usually (not always) to the
student’s advantage to ensure that those who must cooperate are all in the picture near the
beginning of the negotiation process. This approach may avoid unnecessary problems caused by
mutual misunderstandings.

Once the student is well armed with information about “best practice” accommodations and
possible alternatives, the student can then make appointments to meet before the start of each
term with each instructor. (Some of them may know less about the “right” accommodation
options than the student does.) Try to reach an understanding about how you will be evaluated
and how your course grade will be determined. Prepare for the meeting by reading the course
outline and by identifying any concerns about evaluation or assignments. The student, the
instructor, the law school’s contact person for equity issues and the Special Needs Office may all
need to arrive at a clear idea of how accommodations will be coordinated and realized. In
appropriate cases, the Special Needs Office and/or the law school’s equity official (or committee)
may perform a mediation role or a persuasive function in the event of misunderstanding or
resistance by a faculty member.

A practical problem mentioned by students at two law schools was that the physical environment
effectively barred certain students from meeting with professors in their offices. The elevators are
not suitable for taking large, heavy, customized power chairs. The solutions found were to arrange
to meet with professors outside the law school or to communicate with them by e-mail.

               5.4.1 Course and Instructor Evaluation
Students in all law schools are given an annual opportunity to evaluate their courses and
instructors. Written forms are distributed to students, who are encouraged to provide constructive
feedback on good and bad practices, the accessibility and assistance of faculty and other issues.
The process is confidential and students are not required to identify themselves. There is a
presumption that evaluations will be reviewed and used to address problem areas and to recognize
deserving faculty members. Faculty usually have an opportunity to review the evaluations.
Students with disabilities may use this evaluation process to underscore barriers and unresponsive
practices, but the procedure itself may also systematically preclude some students from
participating. One blind student reported that his requests for an evaluation form in an alternate
format or a reader to assist him in answering the questions were denied. Moreover, while
confidentiality is officially assured, if a student’s evaluation form addresses matters that pertain to
accommodation of a disability, it may not be difficult for the faculty member to determine the
author of the comments

5.5        The Law Faculty’s Orientation Week

Orientation week is important in providing students with exposure to the law school environment,
programs, requirements, curriculum options, faculty staff, and facilities. Orientation activities are
important in establishing relationships with other students. However, many students with
disabilities feel that they are denied full access to orientation activities and information. Equity
programs are usually discussed only briefly and limited data about accommodation services are
provided. One problem is the lack of orientation week materials available in accessible format.

A student’s attendant care needs may prevent full participation in orientation activities, as may the
lack of adequate transportation (or awareness of transportation options). It may be beneficial
(especially to the visually or mobility impaired student) to visit the faculty and campus prior to
orientation to become familiar with it, which may make the orientation process less intimidating.
In addition, if the student becomes acquainted with the services of the Office for Students with
Disabilities or the law faculty person responsible for disability issues, the student may learn of
services or accommodations that can be provided during orientation to make the process more
accessible and beneficial to the student.

The University of Calgary Faculty of Law has an official policy that any law school related
function, including orientation week activities, must be held in a wheelchair-accessible location.
Many law schools have a similar policy. While many schools make efforts to host all orientation
activities in accessible locations, they may not always do so.

Two recollections of law school orientation weeks from survey participants:

             My law school’s equity program was discussed, “but the
             meaning of the program was lost when ...[alternate format]
             access to material was not provided”.

             “Services for students with disabilities, along with other equity
             groups, were mentioned, but no accommodation [was]
             provided to deal with the large amount of information
             provided during orientation.”

Chapter 6.0

6      Accommodation in the Classroom and in Other

One student’s reflections on why appropriate classroom accommodations are not always
easy to arrange:

               “I thought I would have more access to instructors to get
               assistance with my disability. That type of accommodation
               has not happened. Often a professor is hired only a month
               before a course starts. Universities hire only sessional
               lecturers because they are discouraging hiring teachers on a
               tenure track.”

Positive precedents that can be followed by instructors:

               Students mentioned one law professor who posts all
               overhead lecture slides on the Internet. This helps students
               with disabilities to prepare for classes. Another professor
               quietly hands the overhead slides to students with disabilities.

6.1        Introduction Concerning Instructional Accommodations

Legal education, like other genres of post-secondary education, relies primarily on teaching
through classroom lectures and seminars, but a number of other instructional methods are used by
law faculties. These include research courses that result in lengthy major papers or reports,
courses that involve simulated or fictional negotiations or mock litigation proceedings, courses
that include temporary placement of the student in a court office, government department or
lawyer’s office, and courses that revolve around placing the student in a community legal aid
clinic for practical lessons involving work on real cases. Knowledge about disability
accommodations in classroom settings is fairly well developed, though pro- accommodation
policies are not always applied. In other kinds of law school teaching, the practice of
accommodations is less evolved.

In almost all instances, it is in a student’s interest to disclose a disability before the start of a
course, to ensure that instruction includes appropriate accommodations that can remove structural
impediments to learning. The student may decide to disclose his or her disability (while seeking
accommodation) to a law faculty equity officer, a university disability service provider, and/or a
course instructor. (Chapter 5 discusses the student’s options in this regard.) Good instructors and
law faculty administrators are generally aware and accepting of their responsibility to make
reasonable efforts to facilitate accommodation requests. Not all students who have a disability
require accommodations in the classroom, however, and accommodation that works for one
student may not be optimal for another student whose disability is technically of the same type.
For accommodations during instruction, there are many adaptive tools and services that students
with disabilities may be able to obtain, once they become aware of the potential availability. This
includes note takers and sign language interpreters, as well as many kinds of computer-based
resources. The costs of adaptive equipment or services (e.g. sign language interpreters) are
usually funded in whole or in part by provincial assistance programs for education.

Of course many law students rely on friendly classmates to share notes and exchange information
informally. Students can often rely on volunteer colleagues who assist with mobility by carrying
computers and bulky course materials, opening doors (especially if the doors care inappropriately
designed) and so on. Through the university’s Office for Students with Disabilities or Special
Needs Office, volunteers are also available on many campuses to assist with reading, accessing
library materials and obtaining other course materials.

It is standard wisdom to advise all law students to keep up with the required readings as much as
possible, as it is very easy to fall behind. Doing all required readings may not always be realistic,
however, and students may need to work out a strategy for being selective. It is very useful to
prepare summaries of key points of class notes and readings, ideally after class or when reading.
Many law schools offer open book examinations, and in such instances, your own self-indexed
case summaries are an invaluable reference resource. (See also the notes in Chapter 3 on case
summaries or “CANS”.)

“The pursuit of a law degree is an endeavour marked by an inordinate amount of work”
(University of Victoria Faculty of Law Guide 1999-2000, at 62) That truism applies to every
student, but if the volume of course work appears too overwhelming primarily because of a
disability, the student ought to consider arranging to pursue law studies part-time for an extended
number of years. That will be the ideal accommodation for some students with disabilities. As
earlier chapters observe, however, there is competition for permission to take part-time studies
and there are some potential drawbacks.

6.2        Teaching Methods

Professors may modify their instructional methods or teaching styles to accommodate the special
needs of students. For example, the instructor may use overhead projection or computer-generated
slides more often, distribute more detailed course outlines than usual or print more information on
blackboards and flip charts. Teachers can teach themselves to avoid practices or habits that are
problematic, such as talking too fast or “talking to the board” with their backs turned away from
the class. The student must nevertheless beware of those professors who resent criticism of
teaching methods that create barriers and may be unwilling to modify them.

6.3        The Physical Environment

Law schools and universities have a responsibility to ensure that the physical environment offers
adequate accessibility for students. This includes physical access to classrooms (including
wheelchair access) and suitable seating arrangements for all students, as well as appropriate
lighting, acoustics and ventilation.

Access problems can be encountered at the doorway of a theoretically accessible classroom, if
students who arrive early are not alert to the fact that a classmate uses a wheelchair. Often in a
small seminar room, space is at a premium, especially for someone in a wheelchair. It should be a
simple procedure to set aside appropriate spaces for students who use wheelchairs and not block
access to them. By “appropriate”, we mean spaces that are easily accessible through the doorway
and whose location does not create other hurdles to full classroom participation. It is
disconcerting when a professor and classmates are inconsiderate of simple accommodation steps,
requiring the adversely affected student to remind them about appropriate remedial actions to be
taken. As one student related: “Often a classroom is accessible if you are the first one to arrive,
but the door is blocked if you are in a wheelchair and try to arrive later”.

6.4        Note Taking and Other Ways of Recording Lectures

Students who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired, or have mobility or learning
disabilities, can benefit from a note taking service organized through the cooperation of the law
school or university. The student receiving the benefit as a disability accommodation does not
have to pay a fee for the service. Note takers may attend class with a student and take notes either
manually or using a computer. As the University of Ottawa Centre for Special Services says,
however (on the university’s website) note takers are not intended to replace attendance by the
student and abuse of the process could result in the denial of note services in the future. At many
universities, note takers are volunteers (usually classmates or other students) who register with the
Disability Services Office/Special Needs Office.

One survey respondent suggested criteria that the beneficiary student should be allowed to use (a)
to assess the adequacy of a note taker’s efforts and (b) to request and obtain a replacement for a
note taker whose work is unsatisfactory: “Good notes are essential and must be complete and
legible, and students must also be able to develop good rapport with their notetaker. If, for
example, the note taker regularly misses classes or the quality of the notes is poor the student
should have access to alternative assistants.”

At most universities, the obtaining of a notetaker is arranged through the assistance of the
Disability Services Office/Special Needs Office. At some universities, however, the process for
securing a note taker can be intimidating, with the result that students may be reluctant to request
this service, with potentially detrimental effects on academic performance. One law student
responding to our survey was critical of the approach at his Western Canada university. There the
student must first obtain a “Volunteer Note Taker Kit” from the Special Needs Office and is then
responsible for asking a classmate to write his or her notes on special forms and share them. The
respondent worried that in a competitive environment such as law school, this request for peer
assistance may not always be met with understanding or willingness. Also, it is very difficult to
request assistance from someone you do not know very well, if at all. At the university in
question, if the student is uncomfortable about asking a classmate, he or she must request that the
professor make an announcement at the beginning of class inquiring if anyone would take notes
for a student who has a disability. This could be excruciatingly embarrassing to some students.
Our respondent suggested that the procedure arguably violates the right to privacy and
confidentiality of the student who needs assistance. Some instructors and classmates might
wrongly perceive note taking as an unfair advantage, especially if an announcement/request re
note takers is made without also announcing full information about the reasons for and purposes
of the facilitative service.

One educational institution recently hired a note taker who assisted three students at once. The
note taker typed lectures and discussions as they proceeded. One student watched the words
unfold on the note-taker’s monitor, while two others read the screen of a companion computer
linked to the main machine. After the note-taker carried out some brief editing, each of the three
students was able to take home the daily class notes on a diskette.

As an alternative method of accommodation, some law students may request the permission of an
instructor to audiotape lectures. The relevant university may have a policy, however, that students
who receive such permission are still expected to attend classes. Students may need to sign a form
indicating that the taped lectures will not be released to other parties. (That is policy stated, for
instance, by the University of Manitoba Disability Services). One of our respondents pointed out
that some instructors do not like being taped and may object to it. If the student’s accommodation
request is denied, the student should notify the Disability Services Office/Special Needs Office or
the Faculty of Law disability liaison contact, who will generally intervene on the student’s behalf,
where audio taping is justified.

6.5        Adaptive Technologies

The range, quality, and availability of adaptive services and technologies for education are
constantly expanding. This chapter will not attempt to cover ground that has been thoroughly and
well examined by others. The writer prefers instead to direct readers to two recommended sources
for information on technologies and related services designed to assist students during
instructional aspects of post-secondary education (including self-instruction). By reviewing these
two sources and others to which they may lead, law students, disability service providers, equity
liaison contacts in the law faculties and concerned professors can increase their awareness of
better and more affordable adaptive technologies.

The Adaptech Project based at Dawson College in Montréal has published a number of studies of
technologies that aid students. Data and access to these studies can be obtained through the
Adaptech Project website ( Of particular interest are
several segments of a 1999 report titled “Learning Technologies: Students with Disabilities in
Postsecondary Education”. The most recommended portions are: “Computer Technologies
Located at Universities and Colleges”, 153-154; “Students’ Experiences with Computer,
Information and Adaptive Technologies”, 154-160; “Mainstream, Free and Inexpensive
Computer, Information and Adaptive Technologies”, 160-166; and “Recommendations”, 166-

Another innovator in the field of adaptive services and technologies for students with disabilities
is the Special Readers’ Programme of Queen’s University Libraries. The website for Special
Readers’ Services ( provides considerable information of
interest to students, professors, and disability service providers. For example, in a recent draft
resource, The Faculty Handbook, these are the headings for one of the chapters:

      7.1 General Guidelines
      7.2 Students Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision
      7.3 Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
      7.4 Students with Mobility Impairments
      7.5 Students with Learning Disabilities
      7.6 Students with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
      7.7 Students with Chronic Illnesses
      7.8 Students with Psychiatric Disorders

Successful adaptive technologies do not need to involve the newest or most complex devices. In
one Canadian law school, a course was taught in a very large room by a soft-spoken professor. An
accommodation adopted to assist one student, which assisted all students, was to arrange for the
professor to use a cordless microphone and a sound system.

6.6        Tutorials and Mentoring

To help ease students into law school, formal tutorials may be offered to first year students. The
University of Ottawa Faculty of Common Law, for example, under the auspices of its Education
Equity Program, offers tutorials to help first year students with the transition to legal studies.
According to the University of Ottawa Internet site, tutorial sessions are usually conducted by
upper year students selected for their high academic achievement and their capacity to respond to
special needs.

Law schools may also offer a “mentoring” program designed to match first year students with an
upper year “buddy”. As survey respondents pointed out, however, many students rely most on an
informal study group comprised of peers and friends, who exchange information, prepare for
examinations and assignments together and offer mutual advice and support.

6.7        Moot Court Programs

One of the common requirements of upper year curricula is successful completion of a Moot
Court Program. The student must prepare a factum (a summary of relevant facts and legal issues)
and present oral arguments concerning a case before a “judge”, usually an upper year student,
faculty member or lawyer, but sometimes a member of the judiciary. A number of disability
issues could arise concerning the Moot Court Program. We know that the Moot Court room at
some law faculties is not fully wheelchair accessible. Students who have disabilities related to
vocal communication may experience particular difficulty presenting their arguments effectively
and responding well to questions from the “bench”. A student who may experience such barriers
is advised to meet early with the faculty member responsible for the Moot Court Program, to
discuss the situation and develop an individual accommodation strategy. This could involve such
simple steps as a formal, advance understanding that the student may conduct oral argument and
respond to the judge(s) while being seated, or may use a sign language interpreter or other
accommodation measures.

6.8        Experiences and Insights Concerning Instructional
           Accommodations at Law School

The following recollections and recommendations by law students and lawyers with disabilities
were gathered from surveys, interviews, and focus group discussions across Canada in 1999-

6.8.1      Negative Experiences and Insights

“One hassle that I get is that I have to ask for services each time I encounter them instead of
getting continuity.”

“I did not want to tell my classmates that I could not view the overhead slides properly, because
of the competitive attitudes of law students”.

The professor may not realize that it is not just the disability itself that causes problems. “Because
I was hunched over to read and write to compensate for my low vision, it produced headaches and
I needed extra time not just because of the visual impairment but because of the pain.”

“Very few professors know about accommodations. The supportive attitudes are often not present
to allow accommodations to be successful.”

Although volunteer reader services can be valuable for students with certain disabilities, a
volunteer student supplied by the central campus Disability Services Office may not be the best
bet. One law student told of being stuck a 19-year-old student “who was not thrilled with having
to experience reading the Canada Pension Plan Act out loud. You should be sure that you are not
stuck with a first-year student that lacks experience and has no clue about the subject matter that
he or she is reading aloud.”

6.8.2      Positive Recollections and Recommendations

A student with certain disabilities, especially visual disabilities, may decide to select courses
based on whether a professor has an electronic version of course materials available.

A sight-impaired student gets at least 50% of course knowledge from lectures.

“If you can do it, get the class notes typed, laser printed and cerlox bound. Ideally you will find
someone who is that well organized in your class or find someone from the previous year who
had notes that can be turned into typed versions.”

“Sometimes, you must ask fellow students to assist. It could be as simple as moving so that they
do not obscure what is written on the blackboard.”

“It would be quite easy to miss out on the necessary research materials if the professor does not
give out handouts or does not write anything on the board. Some professors put all materials
necessary on reserve but this proves difficult for students with disabilities to access. It would be
possible for professors to give all handouts to all students without singling out students with

Normally a law school will allow students to see if she or he likes a course for a short period
before being locked into taking the course. This option is more restricted for those with
disabilities. It would help if professors were required to list the materials they plan to use in the
course calendar. One focus group participant said that after a certain deadline, the professor
should need to obtain permission from the Dean or from faculty council before being able to
change course material.

If class reading assignments are often peripheral and are too lengthy for a student with a particular
disability, “the student may need to take the step of asking the professor which 20 pages of the
course material the student most needs to understand for the next class”.

“After the first year of law school it usually became a bit easier to obtain the cooperation of

“Talk to your professors before, during and after classes. Keep them informed if you do not have
adequate access to materials. Some may intervene with law school authorities to try to change
things for the better.”

“You should think of it as an entitlement, not a favour that the professor is doing for you.”

Chapter 7.0

7      Accommodations Related to Text Books, Case
       Books and Other Course Materials

Anyone familiar with the unreliable and time-consuming nature of electronic book scanning
devices may wince at this person’s experience:

               A student with a print-related disability approached a
               professor near the start of term, requesting copies of course
               materials in an electronic form. The professor said that she
               had deleted the files from her computer to save space. The
               professor then added, “But you can scan it all, can’t you?”

Staff at some law faculties try harder to accommodate:

               “Pocket-size Criminal Codes really suck if a person with a
               visual impairment needs to rely on them. At our school, the
               materials distribution staff enlarged and photocopied the
               whole text for us.”

7.1        Introduction Concerning Course Readings and Materials

Chapter 6 mentions a number of ways in which professors can facilitate course participation by
students with disabilities, by summarizing course materials more clearly, by distributing timely
copies of overhead slides that show highlights of the course, and so on. Part 6.5 mentioned
resources through which students and instructors can learn a great deal about optional ways of
accessing course materials. Most of these methods will already be familiar to the staff of the
Special Needs Office/Disability Services Office on the university campus where a law school is
situated. In addition to the sources pointed to in part 6.5, students may want to refer to other
sources listed in the Bibliography, under the heading “Adaptive Technology”. Practical examples
of how lawyers with diverse disabilities use adaptive technology in their daily work are described
in three articles published in the September 4, 1998 edition of The Lawyers Weekly, which are
listed under “Printed Resources” in the Bibliography.

Assuring access to assigned readings in formats that are appropriate for each student with a print-
related disability requires the cooperation of instructors and often the assistance of staff in
libraries and at the law school’s bookstore or materials distribution centre. To the extent possible,
arrangements to secure proper access to assigned course materials should be made well in
advance of the beginning of classes. This ideal situation is not easy to achieve, however.

Law school is based heavily on printed information, which puts many students with disabilities at
a distinct disadvantage, including blind students, those with other visual impairments, deaf
students, those who are hard of hearing and students with learning disabilities. Textbooks, case
books (which are mainly compilations of excerpts from reported cases) and other required course
materials may not be available in alternate formats (such as Braille, large print, or audiotape).
Adequate time is thus needed to convert the materials. Survey participants indicated that where
materials are provided in accessible format, they are often late, which puts the student behind or
at a loss for class discussions or written assignments. Access to assigned materials held on reserve
in the law library, with the hope of converting these to accessible formats, was also identified as a
perennial problem.

Failure to have access to required reading materials in alternate format at the beginning of a term
was identified by survey participants as a cause of “frustration and the need to fight for
assistance”. While the law school may have a good policy demanding provision of such materials,
the readings are of little benefit when they are not made available to the student when the rest of
the class has them. In such cases, the purpose of the accommodation policy is defeated. Focus
Group participants in every city said that law professors are supposed to submit class materials
months in advance of a course (usually three months), but many do not comply. As one student
observed: “Teachers were required to tell the campus bookstore by the end of June what books
they would need for the autumn term. The problem was that this policy was not strictly enforced.”

One blind student who participated in a Focus Group said he had completely underestimated the
amount of time necessary to scan course materials electronically. Scanning can take a horrendous
number of hours. On the other hand, to obtain an electronic version of the 10 pages (for example)
of a case that a professor has excerpted into a casebook, the student may need to find an electronic
version of the entire case.

7.2        Experiences and Insights Concerning Accommodations
           Related to Course Readings and Materials at Law School

The following recollections and recommendations by law students and lawyers with disabilities
were gathered from surveys, interviews and focus group discussions across Canada in 1999-2000.

7.2.1      Negative Experiences and Insights

“Scanning is not always a good option. If the photocopier is slightly dirty that can have an
adverse impact on scanning.”

“I had lots of documents scanned, especially case books, but the results were horrible.”

“Scanning is impossible for casebooks.”

“Students with print disabilities may have to pay twice for large law books, once to get the
original plain version and once to get the pages enlarged somewhere else.”

“Large print is not necessarily good because you lose some of the perspective of what is on the
page. My preference would be to have more time to read the whole thing. To take that approach
requires a lot more energy than most of our classmates have to expend. There is simply no
avoiding the hard work.”

“Remember that you might have to spend hundreds of dollars on photocopies if you don’t get the
right kind of help from the law school.”

7.2.2      Positive Recollections and Recommendations

“In one way it was easier for me because three of us that year had visual impairments. We let the
administration know who we were and what we needed. We were able to get large print handouts
of materials distributed during the orientation week.”

“An individual with a disability may have to be assertive by talking to professors ahead of time,
finding out what materials they plan to use and asking them to produce these materials earlier
than usual.”

“A student may need to take the step of asking the professor which 20 pages of the course
material the student most needs to understand for the next class.” [This thought is intentionally
repeated from Chapter 6.]

We were told that one law school has all its books available electronically on an internal system,
but this fine idea could not be verified as this guidebook went to press.

“The whole class benefitted from the fact that we were able to get course materials on diskette
and able to print them out more clearly. It ended up being better for everyone.”

Chapter 8.0

8      Libraries

Advice for law library staff from one member of a focus group:

               “Librarians should be educated about the need of some
               students to take material out for longer periods in order to
               enlarge the material. They should also be educated to avoid
               binding new periodical materials received until students with
               disabilities requiring large print have an opportunity to enlarge
               and copy the new materials.”

8.1        Introduction Concerning Accommodations Related to

Given that law students are required to spend an inordinate amount of time conducting case
research and completing assignments that require reference to readings held on reserve, they can
expect to spend countless hours in the law library. Two important factors for students with
disabilities to consider with regard to library use are the physical accessibility of the building and
materials, and the availability of materials in alternate format. Inadequate attention to either of
these factors can have an adverse effect on a student’s academic performance and further
exacerbate disadvantage.

Many law libraries are housed in quaint old edifices or in badly designed new buildings. Even
when modified, they may not be entirely equipped for easy access. In addition, materials may be
stored in locations (such as basements) that do not facilitate access for those with mobility or
visual impairments. Commonly, materials may be stored on high shelves or in narrow stacks.
Some libraries have elevators and doors that need keys, or students may be required to buzz for
staff assistance. For example, a respondent reported that at one law library in Eastern Canada,
wheelchair access after six p.m. is attainable only with an advance phone call. (Prior to six p.m., it
is accessible through an adjacent building). For the student who must spend time in the library
after class in the evening, this is obviously inconvenient and problematic. A respondent observed
that access to the upper floor of one law school library in Ontario would be much enhanced if
students with mobility disabilities were entrusted with a key enabling them to take the elevator to
the upper floor without assistance. (Taking the elevator to the top floor necessitates use of a key,
because this transfer between floors would bypass the security desk.)

Reserve materials can pose a problem. Reserve materials are generally those in high demand,
usually as required course readings. Most reserve materials can be signed out by a student for a
limited time (two hours at the University of Ottawa law library, for example). By special
arrangement at different law faculties, students with special needs may be permitted to remove
these materials for extended periods to have them photocopied, or perhaps will have access to a
service through which library staff or others do regular size or enlarged photocopying for the

Officially at some universities, all members of library staff are “expected to assume a positive
attitude and offer assistance without hesitation”, as is prescribed in the University of Ottawa
Policy Statement on Access and Equity in Education for Students with Disabilities. Most survey
respondents reported that library staff are normally very accommodating and will readily help to
locate, retrieve and photocopy materials and provide reference assistance. But if the appropriate
aid is not forthcoming when needed, it can be frustrating. In many situations and places, special
staff assistance is available only with advance notice. Unlike the majority of law students, those
with disabilities cannot always expect to receive on demand the individual’s required level and
type of accommodated assistance.

Many law library catalogues and periodical indexes can be accessed via the Internet by registered
users, which enables students to conduct research from home.

The use of certain adaptive technologies, however, may not be permitted for use inside the
library. One survey respondent who has a learning disability noted that he was not permitted to
use his voice dictation system while in the library, presumably because it might disturb other
students. The lack of library materials in alternative format (audiotape, large print, Braille) is also
a problem. While required course reading materials may be translated into alternate format with
relative ease (given sufficient time), not so for most library materials. As a result, information for
assignments and papers could be critically limited, with the result, for example, that an essay
cannot be adequately researched (with a resultant impact on the student’s mark). As many law
courses require students to submit at least one major research paper that may comprise most or all
of a course grade (in addition to smaller required research papers), this is a serious potential

One student respondent to our survey recommended that a law library staff member should be
specifically designated to provide services for users who have disabilities.

Most libraries offer adaptive equipment for student use (such as computers, print enlargers, and
dictating systems). To benefit from these, students must usually register first with the Special
Needs Office/Disability Services Office. Often, availability of equipment will exceed demand.

An increasing proportion of legal research is done online and law school libraries now tend to
have a computer room set aside for student use. The entrance, aisles and other features may not be
properly accessible, however. One student suggested that some of the desks/tables should be
electronically adjustable, so that they could be rasied to adapt to wheelchair height. Library
managers and university computer services specialists do not always seem to pay attention to
whether the collection of software available on these computers is compatible for students with
varying disabilities.

Online legal research database services, notably Quicklaw and Westlaw, give students a cost
exemption and provide some accommodations, such as Quicklaw for DOS. The problem is that
there is no additional exemption for students with disabilities. One focus group student had been
cut off while using a database. The database service did not allow for the fact that some students
need to take more time using it. Only two hours per session was free of charge to a student.

Part 6.5 mentioned a few sources through which students and instructors can learn a great deal
about optional technologies for gaining access to printed and online materials. Central adaptive
technology “laboratories” or rooms (some better equipped than others) are provided on all
university campuses, often administered by library personnel. The law school’s own library may
also offer adaptive technology services on the law faculty premises. Such is the situation, for
instance, at Queen’s University. A central Adaptive Technology Lab is operated by the Special
Readers’ Programme in one of the central libraries. The law library also administers access to
some adaptive technologies in the law building.

In Chapter 12 of the current Guide, part 12.9.2, which is titled “Access to Libraries, Technical
Centres and Adaptive Technologies”, notes details of many kinds of adaptive technologies and
services available for library users at Québec universities. Similar amenities are available at law
schools and universities elsewhere in Canada, so it is worthwhile for students in other provinces
to review that segment of the chapter on Québec.

8.1.1      The Online Library Information System (OLLIS)
In the mid-1990’s, a few law students at the University of Ottawa inaugurated the Online Library
Information System (OLLIS). This was available on the website of the University of Ottawa Law
School. Law book publishers cooperated by providing publications in electronic form. Students
needed a password to gain access. In 1999 administration of OLLIS was transferred to the Centre
for Special Services of the University of Ottawa. Any student or other person with medical proof
of a print disability may obtain a password and gain Internet access (free of charge) to this
database of textbooks, casebooks, and other materials. OLLIS users who have the correct
technology on their computers can directly access data compatible for Braiile, large print or voice
access formats. Law book publishers as well as several law schools provide materials to OLLIS
on a regular basis. For more information, visit the website at

A number of law schools and universities have established their own cooperative arrangements
with law publishers to assist students at their law faculties. Whether this involves the student
buying an electronic version of a book, or someone scanning the print version, this sort of service
involves considerable work. All erroneous computer and style codes and odd symbols must be
“stripped out” of the electronic document, in order to make the text reasonably usable in alternate
formats. In situations that the writer is aware of, this time consuming task has been done by
support staff of the law school or by staff of the university’s adaptive technology centre. For
OLLIS, this work is carried out by staff of the University of Ottawa’s Centre for Special Services.

8.2        Accommodations Related to Libraries

The following recollections and recommendations by law students and lawyers with disabilities
were gathered from surveys, interviews, and focus group discussions across Canada in 1999-

8.2.1      Negative Experiences and Insights

“In a library, it is sometimes tough for the staff to move one book at a time off the shelf for a
student with a disability to examine, so that the kind of browsing that other students can do is not

“One difficulty is the excessive security consciousness of librarians. Even taking books out to
scan them in a room just off the library was considered to be a big deal.”

“Although a central library may offer assistance such as scanning, they may have a quota for the
amount of help they can give the student. This quota may not allow enough time for reformatting
the text and editing out errors created by the scanning process.”

One student reports that there is a special programme at her faculty that identifies her as someone
whom library staff are supposed to assist. None has ever offered to do so in her two years at the
law school.

8.2.2          Positive Recollections and Recommendations

“An important accommodation that a law library can provide is a service that does the
photocopying for the student with special needs.”

One thing that can really benefit a student with a severe visual disability is having space in or near
the library to house a scanner and a computer. At Dalhousie Law School, one student said he was
provided with a table next to the audio-visual room and this facilitated things for him
considerably. (Reserved library spaces are also made available to students with a disability by the
University of Ottawa Common Law Section, and no doubt by other law schools as well.)

Chapter 9.0

9      Accommodations Related to Examinations and to
       Other Kinds of Evaluation

              How would your classmates react if you were one of the
              students inside the room described here? One Western
              Canada law school formerly had the practice of setting up a
              special room for examinations in the law school, for those
              who were given extra time. Their names were noted on the
              door. The amount of extra time that students were receiving
              was also announced on the door.

9.1        Introduction to Chapter 9

Examination accommodations promote fairness by alleviating disadvantage, levelling the playing
field so that examinations are written under conditions that permit students an equal opportunity
to succeed (University of Victoria Guidelines on Examination Accommodation). While all
Canadian law schools have an informal or formal policy directed at examination
accommodations, or at accommodations for other kinds of evaluation, there is no universally
applicable standard or blanket policy to which schools adhere. Law schools appear generally to
apply individualized consideration of accommodations needed by the student, though students
with disabilities are encouraged to follow the normal procedure for writing examinations
(University of Ottawa Policy Statement on Access to and Equity in Education for Students with
Disabilities). Although all students are expected to comply with course and evaluation
requirements, law schools also recognize that existing evaluation mechanisms may sometimes
impose undue hardship on a student with a disability.

The type of evaluation accommodation provided by a school will probably need to meet the
approval of both the academic instructor and either a law school committee or a senior officer
such as the Dean or Associate Dean. Usually the student is expected to raise concerns initially
with the instructor to discuss exam or other evaluation accommodations. As was said earlier in
this book, however, the student may want to learn first about possible options by speaking with
the law faculty’s equity contact person and/or the university’s Disability Services Office. It is
generally incumbent on the student to demonstrate that it is unfair for him or her to write an
examination or otherwise to be evaluated under the same conditions as other students. Assistance
in making this case could be obtained from the Special Needs Office or the faculty of law
disability liaison person.

Students may be required to register with the Special Needs Office before requesting
accommodations for exams or other kinds of evaluation. Failure to register may mean that the
requested accommodations cannot be provided in a timely manner. Ideally, the student, the
professor, and the Disability Services Office/Special Needs Office will jointly develop an
accommodation strategy responsive to individual requirements.

Where a student meets with resistance from a professor or Dean, or the request for
accommodation has been denied, the Disability Services Office/Special Needs Office or law
faculty contact may advocate for the student and ensure that his or her needs are pursued and
given adequate consideration. There may be an informal or official appeal process for students to
pursue their requests.

A law graduate interviewed for our Guide said that while in law school he appealed the failing
grade he received for an examination. As accommodations for his learning disability, he had been
allowed him to write the exam on a computer and in a room separate from where most other
students were writing the exam.. The exam questions were extraordinarily long (2-3 pages),
which added extra difficulty because of the student’s particular learning disability. Moreover,
there were ambiguous aspects that, in the student’s view, required interpretation. The law
professor who had prepared the exam was not present in the separate exam room. and there was
no practical way for a student in that room to get ambiguities cleared up in time to learn exactly
what he was supposed to address on the exam. The law school’s Grades Review committee ruled
that he could rewrite the examination. But the original “F” would appear on his transcript of
grades, along with whatever new mark he received and an explanation of why the student had two
marks appearing on the transcript. The student sought a further review, because of the stigma
attached to receiving a failing grade. Faculty procedures called for review by a special panel of
law professors. At the hearing, the student was surprised that the panel of four wanted to review
all the facts and not just the legal and procedural arguments he had prepared on such issues as
reasonable accommodation. Fortunately, he had all necessary documentation in his files. The
decision of the panel was threefold. He was given a second chance to pass the course. If he
passed, the “F” mark would be removed from his transcript. He would not be required to write a
standard exam. Regarding the latter point, he had sought a decision allowing him to write a take
home exam or a research paper. The panel decided that he could write a take home exam.

At most law schools, the grounds of accommodation are not rigidly defined but are considered on
a case-by-case basis. With some possible exceptions at individual law faculties, students may
request accommodation on the basis of any physical or mental disability, learning disability,
illness or medical condition, as well as other life factors that may have an adverse impact on
examination performance or on other ties of performance that are assessed. Requests for
accommodation will usually require support from appropriate medical documentation. Where the
request is made on the basis of disability, the student may also be required to provide, at his or her
expense, professional assessments or recommendations.

Almost all survey respondents were aware that they could request exam and other evaluation
accommodations, though one student had not known this was possible.

9.2        Examination Accommodations

Students who completed our surveys or found other ways to contribute to project data reported
that faculty members and law schools willingly made every reasonable effort to accommodate
regarding exams, while ensuring that course requirements were satisfactorily met. Two denied
requests for examination accommodation were brought to the editor’s attention, one of which was
eventually resolved in the student’s favour.

As with other kinds of accommodation requests, the general advice for examination
accommodations is that requests be made as soon as possible and that supporting documentation
be provided in a timely manner, to ensure that the needs are given sufficient consideration and
that there is time to secure required assistance.

Most frequently, exam accommodation takes the form of a schedule change, additional time for
writing the exam, special equipment, a separate room, the use of a computer, assistance of scribes
or an alternative format exam. Alternative evaluation measures, such as take home assignments or
essays, or an oral examination, may also be an option to replace the formal written examination.

Not all students with disabilities requested exam accommodations. Most did take advantage of
this option and experienced little, if any, difficulty having the request accommodated. The most
common form of accommodation reported by survey respondents was extra time or the use of a
computer to type answers. Scribes and the use of a separate room were also mentioned by several
students. No student indicated that he or she was administered a different examination or that the
examination requirement was waived. Generally, faculty members and law schools willingly
made every reasonable effort to accommodate while ensuring that the course requirements were
satisfactorily met and that the evaluation process was not compromised.

9.3        Anonymity Respecting Exam Accommodations

Problems are often encountered regarding protection of anonymity when a student who has a
disability writes an accommodated exam. There are advantages to having examinations
accommodated through a central university Special Needs Office. That way students need to
produce only one set of medical, psychological or other documentation justifying the need for the
accommodations. Often the central campus Disabilities Services Office will have a facility for
writing an examination privately.

Problems for anonymity may arise if a professor has a sign-up list related to an examination, or
receives one examination booklet later than the others. A student writing an exam based on a
large-print text, may lose anonymity because of the code numbering system used or for other
reasons. One solution would be if the examiners gave the students a separate, large print version
of the questions but allowed the student to write the exam in the regular booklets so that the

markers could not tell the difference between these booklets and those submitted by other

There are a number of ways in which teachers could know that an exam was written by a student
with a disability. For example, if a part-time instructor works in a downtown law office or for the
government, the exam of the student with a disability might arrive later than the others by courier
(as has occurred).

If only one of the exams is typed, it is pretty obvious which of the students prepared that one. “It
would be advantageous if that typed exam could be turned into a hand-written exam by a scribe.”
said one student respondent. Another alternative would be to allow the student with a disability to
start the exam early so that all the examinations are handed in together at the same time.

Some law schools are more rigid about anonymous grading than others are. Students are assigned
a different exam number each time. Exams must be deposited with the Director of Studies. Exams
are rated by two teachers. The Director of Graduate Studies breaks the student’s code only at the
very end of the process.

9.4        Evaluation of Student Performance Respecting Other Course

In some cases, assessment of their oral participation in classes may be waived for hearing
impaired students. Or written assignments may be replaced by oral presentations for students with
learning disabilities or those whose disability otherwise causes difficulty with writing. It is
generally unfair to evaluate students on class participation if a student needing materials in an
alternate format does not have satisfactory access to the materials.

A common mandatory requirement of the upper year law school curriculum is successful
completion of the Moot Court program. Students are also required to attend classes to prepare for
the moot and compile supporting documentation.

During the mooting process, there are special considerations for some students who have
disabilities. The extensive preparation time required may be particularly burdensome. The need to
present oral argument can put certain students at an unfair disadvantage. The student with a
hearing or speech impairment may have difficulty responding to questions from those acting as
judges, or “cross-examining” opposing parties. Depending on how these factors are assessed
and/or accommodated, the student with a disability may have difficulty attaining a fair evaluation.
One student effectively addressed one key problem by requesting permission to “approach the
bench” for questioning, having informed participants in advance that she was “hearing impaired”.

A consideration for students with mobility disabilities is the physical accessibility of the Moot
Court room. There may be steps leading to the room or to the “judges’ bench”, which could
present a challenge for those with visual or mobility disabilities. Students have reported, however,

that if notified of special needs in advance, coordinators of mooting programs have made
alternative room arrangements for those who required them.

While all students are expected and encouraged to participate in Moot Court programs, a
particular student’s disability may make it impossible to do so without experiencing disadvantage.
In such circumstances, it may be possible to make alternative evaluation arrangements.

9.5        Experiences and Insights Concerning Examinations and Other
           Kinds of valuation at Law School

The following recollections and recommendations by law students and lawyers with disabilities
were gathered from surveys, interviews, and focus group discussions across Canada in 1999 -

9.5.1      Negative Experiences and Insights

According to our survey and focus group respondents, exams posed particular problems for
students with disabilities. For instance, although they might be able to write an examination later
than the bulk of the students, they felt there was no advantage in this. Psychologically the student
was not likely to be in “exam mode” at the later time. For that reason, and to avoid being labelled,
a student might choose to write an exam at the regular time, even though disadvantaged by his or
her disability.

An exam held later and separately is likely to be different from that written by the bulk of the
students, for security reasons. Usually this examination will be based on older examinations and it
may not be as closely reflective of the content that was taught in the course during the current
year. It will also be harder for the professor to mark that exam on an individual basis since it is
not part of a wider group of examinations.

“I would never make it a practice to tell people in law school that I had extra time to do exams or
assignments. I would also be reluctant to tell people that I was able to dictate assignments.”

Subtle bias can work against students who need accommodations, including those who must study
part-time because of circumstances such as a disability. In the mid-1990’s, a law student who was
forced by health considerations to study part-time was told by a member of the law faculty that
the student’s marks might normally be good enough to win an academic award. The student was
initially told that anyone studying part-time was not eligible to win. The student was taking two
years to complete a one year course load. The student protested, stating that needing to study part-
time should not make a candidate ineligible for the award. The faculty decided that the student
was indeed eligible. The student won the relevant academic prize that year, along with a
scholarship attached to it.
9.5.2      Positive Recollections and Recommendations

“Although a student with a disability might need to accept the need to work three times as hard as
their classmates, there is no reason to accept an unfair testing format.”

“A test should examine how much you know, not how much you can convey by mechanical
means such as a pencil or pen.”

A professor or an exam invigilator may not realize that it is not just the disability itself that causes
problems justifying an accommodation. One student had this revelation: “Because I was hunched
over to read and write, it produced headaches and I needed extra time, not just because of the
visual impairment but because of the pain ... For me an important gain was achieved when I was
able to do exams orally because I do not encounter the same problems as when I am

Chapter 10.0

10 Educational, Social and Recreational
   Opportunities Outside of Regular Classes and

Uninformed attitudes can create barriers in extracurricular activities associated with law
schools. For example, a survey respondent with a learning disability, who participated in a
student-operated legal aid clinic, said that the clinic violated its obligations of confidentiality
toward the respondent. The clinic’s Director compounded the matter by telling other students they
would have to “pick up the slack” because of the respondent’s disability and its presumed effect
on the respondent’s ability to process information.

10.1       Introduction to Chapter 10

The degree to which a student is involved in extracurricular activities is influenced by the nature
and severity of one’s disability and how the individual responds to it. Aside from any personal
priorities, extracurricular activities are a concern for law students because articling and future
employment opportunities depend to a certain extent on networking and community involvement.

Many survey participants indicated that they did not participate in extracurricular activities and
found their course loads more than sufficiently demanding. Attendant care needs, transportation
arrangements, fatigue, and other health or medical factors may not allow for participation. In
addition, social and recreational activities, particularly those off campus, may be physically
inaccessible to some students.

Note that the law school may feel that its obligation to accommodate does not extend to social
events unless they are organized or sanctioned by the law faculty. Even if we accept this limited
range of perceived responsibility, it is remarkable that at some law schools student lounges are
not adequately accessible. Along with social banter, lounges are often home to course discussions
and to the building of networks that will assist in studies and perhaps in future career searches.

10.2       Student Legal Aid Clinics

Student-run legal aid clinics provide students with valuable volunteer work experience and make
the participants more competitive during the search for articling positions. Students interact with
clients and work as a team to provide legal services to members of the community. Many of these
clients are members of disadvantaged groups (including persons with disabilities) who cannot

afford to retain a lawyer or who are intimidated by the legal process. Students with disabilities,
however, may be denied the opportunity to participate fully, if at all, in clinics or in other kinds of
pro bono (voluntary) activities related to law.

One survey participant stated that he had wanted to obtain a position in his law school’s
community legal aid clinic. He was asked to withdraw his application, however, because of his
visual disability. Most of the files and resources at the law clinic were not in a format accessible
to him. A clinic participant at another law school, who has a learning disability, stated that he
faced barriers in contributing to the school’s law clinic, where accommodations or adjustments
were not offered for his disability.

10.3       Other Extracurricular Activities with an Educational Element

In addition to moot court programs within legal studies, there are optional competitive moots
requiring exceptional advocacy and communication skills. Some students with learning, hearing
or other disabilities may be unable to participate or may be dissuaded or prevented from
participating as a result of the way the competitions are set up. Competitive moots are team events
with a high status, usually involving contests among law schools. Participants are generally
selected by faculty members. A student’s academic grades and performance during try-outs are
among factors considered.

Most law schools publish law journals or reviews, which provide students with valuable
experience in legal research and writing, as well as contacts within the legal profession and at
other law schools. These journals are compiled, edited, and managed by student volunteers, under
the supervision of an editorial board and faculty members. While all students may be encouraged
to participate in the production and editing of journals as volunteers, upper year students at many
schools may also be selected for positions on the editorial board. Competition for these positions
is usually intense and being named an editor is a prestigious accomplishment. Typically, students
with the highest academic marks are chosen for editorial positions.

While being involved with a faculty law journal has many benefits, students who have certain
disabilities may be systemically, albeit unintentionally, barred from participation. Students whose
disability makes it more difficult to write, read, or communicate may find that the extra effort
needed to contribute to journal production may not be justifiable. The demands of the curriculum,
in addition to medical needs or conditions, may mean that many students with disabilities have
neither the energy nor the time to take part.

Many students with visual or learning disabilities would not be able to participate fully as
volunteers or editors if they desired to do so, because of the need to translate print materials into
alternate formats. Law journal budgets and staff complements would probably not be sufficient to
ensure that each revision or draft is available in an accessible format. That should not stop a
student or editorial board from contemplating accommodations that would permit a more
inclusive involvement, however. Nor should it present a student with a disability from seeking to
have a meritorious article or note published in the law faculty’s journal.

Students’ Associations

Each law school has a student association to which every student belongs. (Membership dues are
usually mandatory and included in the cost of tuition.) Law students’ associations generally
organize and promote extracurricular social, recreational and athletic activities. They may
promote the interests of law students outside the faculty in conjunction with provincial and
federal student organizations. They may also form committees that represent student concerns
related to academic matters, providing an opportunity to take an active role in shaping issues.
Generally, however, law student associations are not activist, being more focused on social

Associations of law students with disabilities are uncommon, perhaps because many such students
hesitate to draw attention to their differences, do not have time or energy to become involved, or
are present in insufficient numbers in law faculties to warrant a separate association. Student
associations, covering the entire student community on a campus, may give more consideration to
activities for and concerns of students with disabilities.

Law school and university students’ associations do not provide accommodations, technical
devices, or supports for students with disabilities. They may, however, provide career placement
or counselling services. A few require that sponsored social events must be held in wheelchair-
accessible locations. McGill Law School has a small group called “Law Students with
Disabilities” and the constitution of its Law Students’ Association requires that the equity rights
of students with disabilities be taken into account.

Chapter 11.0

11 Everyday Activities and Community Resources
   Not Connected to the Law School

The principal purpose of Chapter 11 is to recognize that many aspects of a student’s life may
require disability accommodations but are not linked directly to the law faculty context. The
accommodations must be sought elsewhere, usually with the assistance of an office somewhere
else on the university campus. Another goal of the chapter is to remind students of a few potential
resources available in the wider community.

This guidebook was not designed to be comprehensive, but to look at aspects of the law faculty
environment that differ to a degree from what a student experiences in post-secondary education
preceding law school. This chapter will therefore not go into such issues as transportation,
housing and other matters that are important to a student, but are not remarkably different for a
law student as compared to an undergraduate. Nonetheless, some readers may have acquired a
disability quite recently, or might have experienced a worsening of a disability and may only now
require accommodations. Others who they have been out in the world of employment (or
unemployment) for some years may need reminding of the range of activities and facilities that
could require disability accommodations when they are attending law school or university.

The central campus service assisting students with disabilities (whether it is called the Disability
Services Office, the Special Needs Office, or some other name) is familiar with accommodations
available to overcome barriers in daily living for people with various disabilities. The Office is
the primary resource for accommodations focused on educational matters, and a secondary
resource when matters pertains to something such as use of athletic facilities, access to cultural
and non-educational social events, and so on. Other services or groups on campus focus primarily
on those subjects.

We have allowed for the possibility that a law student might forget some matters about which
accommodation inquiries should be made concerning aspects of non-academic life. A source to
which you can turn for examples is Chapter 12, covering law schools in Québec. In Chapter 12,
we chose to include reference to sides of student life associated with the wider university and city
communities, especially under the following headings: 12.11 - Transportation and Parking, 12.12
- Housing and 12.13 - Other Information, which covers such issues as Access to Athletic
Facilities and Access to Social Events. By providing this kind of detail in one chapter, we offer
illustrations that may help students in any part of Canada to know what they might potentially ask
for, with the advice and assistance of Disability Service Providers on their own campuses.

As is indicated elsewhere in this Guide, students with disabilities should be asking questions
about issues such as housing and transportation when deciding their priority list of law schools to
attend, assuming that they have a choice of schools. (For example, almost all universities included

in this study have some fully accessible accommodations for students with disabilities, although
demand may exceed availability and the rules for who is entitled to these rooms vary.) Many
students with disabilities apply to law school in only their home city, because of concerns about
affordable and accessible housing and transportation and the lack of a support network in another
city. Climate has also been identified as a factor by survey respondents. Some disabilities such as
arthritis are aggravated by cold or damp weather. It is also more difficult for everyone, including
students with mobility or visual disabilities, to manoeuvre in harsh winter conditions.

Students who require the assistance of a personal care attendant are no doubt already aware that
such services are not provided or arranged through a campus Special Needs Office, and that
attendant care needs are not financially assisted directly by the university or by student loan
programs. While the expenses for some individuals may be covered completely or in part by
community agencies (or by another public program such as Workers’ Compensation), two of our
survey participants who required attendant care indicated that they paid for it themselves, which
imposed additional financial hardship on them.

Community-based agencies and interest groups provide a number of services and supports not
available through on-campus Special Needs Offices. The Special Needs Office may be able to
direct the student to off-campus organizations, however. Students may also find the Directory of
Disability Organizations in Canada (2000) to be an invaluable resource. For more information
go to Complete contact information is available in the bibliography. One
survey participant gives this advice: “A useful trick is to become aware of any toll-free number
that is available to learn more details on your disease or impairment and how to overcome it.
There are also websites, as well as peer support networks available online and in larger cities.”

Among hundreds of other things, the 1999 Canada-wide study by the National Educational
Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) revealed that there are only a few local associations
of students with disabilities. As they perhaps did in their undergraduate days, however, law
students with a disability may find support from community or national organizations focused on
particular kinds of disability or from associations that look at disability issues in general. In
addition to its educational and other activities, NEADS (headquartered at Carleton University)
coordinates a national Internet network among students, some of whom are law students or recent
graduates. Another established organization is the Canadian Association of Visually Impaired
Lawyers (CAVIL), which could serve as an example to other groupings of lawyers and law
students with disabilities.

Chapter 12.0

12 Accommodation Policies and Practices in Québec
   Law Schools and on their University Campuses

One Law Student’s Experience:

               It is not always easy to achieve an understanding between
               students with disabilities and their professors. A deaf law
               graduate from Québec reported having faced misjudgement
               and prejudice from a couple of older law professors who
               apparently could not comprehend a deaf student’s need for
               accommodations. The professors thought that the notetaking
               assistance provided to the student gave the student an unfair
               advantage over other students.


12.1       Introduction to Chapter 12

The policies of Québec campuses that have law schools are similar to those at universities in other
provinces. The main possible difference is that Québec universities decided on a province-wide
policy on disability accommodation. In 1994, Québec universities adopted the Framework Policy
on Integration of People with Disabilities (Politique cadre sur l’intégration des personnes
handicapées - Adopted March 31, 1994, by the Executive Committee of the Meeting of Rectors
and Principals of Québec Universities).

The different universities took differing approaches to implementation of the Framework Policy.
Each of the five universities that has a law faculty says that it follows the general principles of
equity and integration established in the 1994 Policy. It appears that McGill University has gone
further. Following the adoption of the Framework Policy, McGill initiated (in 1995) a detailed
policy asserting the rights of students with disabilities to equal treatment. McGill has also
expressed a commitment and responsibility of the university to provide services, administrative
support, and equipment to ensure integration and equity for students with disabilities. This core
philosophy has also been expressed by the Dean and other faculty members and administrators at
McGill’s Law School and underlies the work of the Office for Students with Disabilities. (It is
quite possible that law school faculties and Disability Service Providers on other Québec
campuses support this perspective, but our Québec researchers found it to be most evident at

Because the Québec universities that we are reviewing base their disability accommodation
efforts on the province-wide Framework and on the related provincial funding formula for
disability services, we decided to compare Québec campuses in the following way: First, we
looked at what Québec universities with law schools appear to have in common. Then, we
considered significant differences among those campuses - according to the information they have
supplied on their websites and in their brochures. In all instances, we tried to obtain
supplementary information by contacting university officials. If data on a university or its law
school are not given on a particular subject, that is because the data were not publicized by the
institution, nor supplied to our project researchers in response to our inquiries. We have also
added inputs from students who answered our survey on accommodation for law students in

12.2       The Québec Universities Framework Policy of 1994

The Framework Policy holds as a central principle that a university ought to eliminate all forms of
discrimination and must take fair and reasonable measures necessary to ensure the accessibility
and integration of students with disabilities.

To ensure the implementation of the general principle, the Policy establishes specific provisions
as follows:

According to its financial resources, the university should remove all architectural barriers, to
make all buildings accessible for students with disabilities.

In all its brochures, the university must mention physical accessibility to buildings and the
palliative measures taken to facilitate access to programs of study.

In its educational regulations, the university must allow for accommodation of time limits
applicable to examinations and of deadlines for completing academic assignments.

The university is committed to maintaining student residence rooms adapted to students who have
mobility difficulties.

The university should:

Mention in its application forms phone numbers and addresses where the persons or services in
charge of welcoming students with disabilities can be reached.

Provide the following to personnel in charge of the admissions process - access to expert advice
on (a) the means necessary to carry out disability accommodation and (b) the means necessary to
facilitate integration and full participation in university life for students with disabilities.

Supervisory Staff
The university should maintain as much as possible a network of resource persons to provide
adequate information and supervision for students with disabilities, and facilitate their
participation in university life.

The university should provide:

Education to employees - especially employees who are in direct contact with students in their
teaching or administration of university life, on the problems faced by students with disabilities.

Information on the main types of disabilities and how to help people with disabilities and their
families, during the basic training of students in Health Sciences, Social Services, Psychology,
Sciences of Education, Sports and Development.

Administrative support
According to its financial resources, the university should offer students with disabilities the
necessary specialized equipment and alternative formats that will ensure access, especially to
library resources.

The university is in charge of coordinating and implementing the different elements of the policy
in order to achieve the objectives of accessibility and integration of students with disabilities into
university life.

12.3       Application of the 1994 Framework Policy by Québec
           Universities and Law Schools

Each Québec University has developed programs to comply with its obligations of equity and
integration toward students with disabilities. Those programs deal with questions such as access
to campus information, transportation, parking, accommodation programs for teaching, exams
and course materials, equipment availability, accessibility to buildings, classrooms and lodging on
campus or off-campus, extra-curricular activities, financial help, scholarships, and so on.

Under each of the headings below, we highlight different approaches that have been identified by
the individual universities, and occasionally by law students from their campuses. All universities
clearly state on their websites and in printed documents the principles of equity and integration
guiding their services. They also give more or less detailed information on how to access
disability services and describe the process of integration for students with disabilities within the
university environment. They also sometimes provide students with information regarding on-
campus associations for persons with disabilities, and occasionally, off-campus associations as

12.4       Access to Information About Accommodations

On their websites, most universities present their policies and data on available services and
accommodations for disability. They usually offer approximately the same information in printed
material whose lettering is, unfortunately, not always easy to read. However, in all instances the

information is readily available, or available on request, in alternative formats (e.g.: Braille or
cassette) to suit all students’ needs for accessibility.

Note that Offices for Students with Disabilities (Special Needs Offices) may not publicize
information on housing, employment or other matters because these services are handled by other
offices on campus that deal with, for example, housing or career placement. Similarly, matters
concerned with athletics, medical care, psychiatrists, student social activities, financial or general
computer/technology issues would be covered by other specialized offices. As one project advisor
observed students who have a disability are students first and should use regular services where
appropriate. Just because the Office for Students with Disabilities does not refer to something in
its publicity does mean that the necessary services and supports are not present on campus. It may
simply mean that another office is in charge of a particular matter and that the Office for Students
with Disabilities provides only peripheral advice or assistance to the student on such matters.

Based on the websites maintained by Québec law schools, it would appear that they generally do
not have their own special policies. They apply the general policies of the university to which
they belong on a case-by-case basis or simply refer their students to the university offices for
students with a disability. Information from law students attested that most of the time students
are not even aware if a member of the Law Faculty staff is in charge of accommodating students
with disabilities or if there is a formal policy from the Law School on accommodation for
students with a disability. In our survey, one student expressed a wish for a better cooperation
between the Office for Students with Disabilities at his university and the Faculty of Law. Such
cooperation would enhance accommodation services divided between the two of them, wherein
services related particularly to teaching of law would be ensured by the Law Faculty while the
university office would provide general services.

McGill’s printed materials are particularly informative, setting an example that other campuses in
Québec and elsewhere should consider emulating. The following general pamphlets are issued
along with appropriate covering notes from McGill’s Office for Students with Disabilities:
“Receiving services at McGill”, “Attendant Care” and “Financial Aid”. (A full list of McGill
pamphlets related to accommodations for specific disabilities is provided in the Appendices of
this Guide.) To facilitate their use on campus, these short documents are each clearly numbered
as part of a series, and are each printed on a different colour of paper. Relevant sheets are
provided to a student in a personalized folder, based on that student’s disability and individual
accommodation needs.

The simple approach taken by McGill to differentiate information sheets covering different topics
facilitates the work of staff. What is more important, these steps increase the accessibility of the
documents to students. McGill officials point out that their approach makes it easier to produce
revised materials each time there is a change. Printing costs are also lower than for a glossy
booklet that is harder to revise frequently.2 McGill’s website gives the same information as the
pamphlets and is a good source to get initial information on accommodation.

     Outside Québec, the University of Ottawa, and no doubt other campuses, also distribute
pamphlets on disability accommodation that distinguish topics by colour. Of course a campus that
has a disability rights handbook could argue that a booklet is easier to use than a set of loose pages,
gathers important information in one place, and is harder to lose than individual sheets dealing with
different topics.
Sherbrooke’s booklet gives information on all services available to the students on and off the
campus as well as on how to contact the person or service in charge. It is a handy brochure, small
and easy to carry around. The university website offers the same information, sometimes with
more detailed data. Both printed materials and website could be improved in dividing information
into more paragraphs with clear headings (e.g., indicated by capital letters) that are easy to read
and having a large print version readily available is also recommended.

The website of Université de Montréal gives detailed information on all services available to
students with disabilities on the campus. The information appears to be complete with headings in
capital letters, making it easy to search needed information. According to each main kind of
disability, the site gives information on whom to contact, examples of equipment available and
the type of accommodation that can be expected. There might be some initial difficulty with the
lettering on the website, which is of normal size, but the font size can be increased on the screen
and it can be downloaded. There is no indication of any published large print version of material
being available.

Printed documentation from UQAM (Université du Québec à Montréal) gives only a very short
account of the different services available, with addresses and/or phone numbers of the services
and persons in charge. The university website is much more informative and well done. It gives
lots of detail on all services and equipment available, as well as addresses and phone numbers of
services and persons in charge on and off the campus. It also provides students with a quite
complete phone and e-mail directory. The site is easy to search and data is available online in
large print versions for Mac and for PC.

The information provided by Laval University is the same on its website and in its printed
material. The site and documents both give a clear account of the various services and equipment
available, as well as the phone numbers and addresses of persons in charge. It would be useful,
however, to give more detail generally and to include additional information - on housing, for

12.5       Conditions for Accessing Services at the Office for Students
           with Disabilities

According to their brochures and websites, all Québec universities are committed to helping
students with disabilities to integrate into the university and to finish their chosen programs of
study with the same opportunities as other students. The universities all ask students planning to
use the services of the Office for Students with Disabilities to meet at the beginning of each
semester with an employee of this service. Together, the student and service provider are intended
to conduct an evaluation of the student’s needs and to elaborate a plan of action according to
those needs and the program of study chosen.

In their publicity materials, most universities do not reveal the conditions required to have access
to the services for students with disabilities. Obviously, the students must have a disability of
some kind, but they are not forewarned about the documents or data that a student is supposed to
provide. McGill’s gives somewhat more public information, telling students that they are required
to provide letters from medical professionals and from previous academic institutions.
Québec’s Ministry of Education (MEQ) provides funding to all universities to cover special
services supplied to students with disabilities, but only for students having a disability that is
recognized by the MEQ. Funding is also not available unless the student is from Québec.

The Université de Montréal website states that the disability of a student who wants the benefit
of special services must be recognized by the MEQ. A couple of other universities announce
policies that are less restrictive.

McGill University has an accommodations policy that is more inclusive than that of some other
Québec universities. Its Office for Students with Disabilities provides services to any student with
a disability, even if the student would not be recognized by the Ministry of Education as a student
with a disability. Some other universities such as Laval and Sherbrooke offer services to
students not registered with the Ministry of Education, if they use services (such as use of the
adaptive technical “laboratory”) that do not involve payment or if the students themselves will be
paying for the services.

Offices for Students with Disabilities will help students to complete the documentation required
for recognition by the Ministry of Education.

12.6       Services and Equipment Available

Once the needs of the student and his or her right to access the services offered by the Office for
Students with Disabilities are established with the help of a staff member, the Office will
accommodate students according to the human and material resources that the Office has
available. Brochures and websites from all universities list services that are almost identical from
one university to the next.

12.7       Classroom Instruction and Course Materials

During the program of study students may obtain the benefit of human resources such as note
takers, reading services, perhaps volunteer readers, interpreters in sign or oral languages, tutoring
or care attendants. Also available, are material resources such as access to C-Note, NCR paper,
tape recorders, photocopiers, FM systems and Brailling of course materials, books and articles.
Some equipment such as computers can be borrowed for short-term loans. The above list of
equipment and human resources is far from exhaustive and universities’ offices for students with
a disability informed us that they will always do their best to accommodate the student according
to his or her specific needs.

McGill and Université de Montréal give detailed information in their printed material or on their
Web sites concerning the equipment as well as the human resources available, with examples of
the type of services offered according to each disability. McGill documentation is particularly
informative, detailing how to request each service and what financial assistance is available for it.

12.8       Accommodation for Examinations and Other Forms of

All universities allow students with disabilities to receive accommodations for exams and other
evaluations. The most common ones are extension of time and date lines for exams and academic
works. Other accommodations such as scribing services or use of a computer are also available.

Universities require that the student talk to his or her professors, with the support of a resource
person if needed, to make the professors aware of the student’s need for accommodation, as well
as the type of accommodation requested. McGill and UQAM publicize the possibility for
students to write their exams on the premises of the Disability Services Office. No doubt the other
universities offer a similar option, but this is not indicated in their publicity material.

Discussion with professors regarding accommodation for exams, academic work or lectures is
clearly easier where the Office for Students with Disabilities assists each student who has a
disability by sending letters to professors explaining his or her special situation. These letters are
often accompanied by booklets or guides designed to help the professor to understand and answer
the specific needs of a student with a particular disability. McGill, UQAM, Université de
Montréal and Sherbrooke all state that they provide such support.

12.9       Access to Buildings, Classrooms, Libraries, Technology
           Centres and Offices

Although we did not obtain as much detailed information as we might have wished on the
accessibility of campuses, most universities seem genuinely anxious to provide access to all
services and amenities on their campuses for students with disabilities. Students who answered
our survey agreed that they did not encounter major or many physical obstacles, since most
university services are accessible.

12.9.1     Access to Buildings and Classrooms

According to the information provided by the five universities, most buildings are wheelchair
accessible and have elevators; they typically rate accessibility to their buildings at 80 - 95%.
Despite the desire of most universities and Disability Service Providers to remove all architectural
barriers, it is difficult and costly to make old buildings accessible. At any university, we cannot be
sure to what extent the lack of full accessibility into and within buildings is attributable to an
overall lack of resources or to a lack of priority being given to accessibility for students with

McGill University, often cited as an example for its commitment toward those who have
disabilities, says that only 80% of its buildings are wheelchair accessible. The Law School
buildings have accessibility problems remaining, especially with respect to the Law Bookstore
and the Moot Court room. During the summer of 2000, a new elevator was being installed to
improve access in the steeply sloped Moot Court. This will make it easier for students or others

who have disabilities (e.g. professors or guest speakers) to make presentations at the front of the
Moot Court.

Similarly, Sherbrooke Law School deemed 95% accessible since the construction work recently
accomplished in the building, still has accessibility problems with respect to its Centre Judiciaire,
which holds the Moot Court. Some construction work will be undertaken shortly to make it
accessible to wheelchairs. One student with a mobility disability confirmed that this is the only
place in the Law School building that hampers access. One result is a restriction on the ability of
students with mobility disabilities to participate in conferences.

Although information on outdoor access to buildings is available on university websites or in their
printed documents, not all universities mention accessibility to classrooms. (Information can be
obtained through the services in charge of student integration and some universities such as
Université de Montréal et Laval University publish a specific accessibility guidebook.)

Both UQAM and McGill say that if a classroom or building is not accessible to a student, the
student (presumably with the aid of the university’s Office for Students with Disabilities) may
request that the class location be changed to an accessible site. UQAM and Université de
Montréal note the possibility that students with mobility difficulties may be provided with
special desks in classrooms. All other universities have confirmed that they will provide
accommodations related to classroom teaching. (Realistically, cost will be a factor considered by
a university in deciding where and how to meet a request. The student should seek the support of
law school officials and Disability Service Providers on the campus.)

12.9.2     Access to Libraries, Technical Centres and Adaptive Technologies

All library entrances in Québec universities are wheelchair accessible. Most university publicity
does not indicate, however, whether it is easy for students with a disability to use the available
tables, work stations, periodical indexes or photocopiers and whether it is easy to access books,
journals and so on. Universities do have technical centres exclusively reserved for students with
disabilities. The centres are equipped with computers and other special materials and software as
well as adapted tables, chairs and lighting. All universities seem to offer similar equipment for
students. It is usually necessary to make an appointment the first time to learn how to use all the

Université de Montréal offers specialized documentation services accessible to persons with
physical disabilities and hearing or vision impairments. These services are reserved to students
and professors of the university and a specialized staff is available to help in using the equipment.
The equipment available includes adapted computers, special software, Braille display, regular
(e.g. laser) as well as Braille printers, voice recognition and screen readers. The service appears to
be well equipped but is available certain hours during the day only and not on weekends.

The Law Library is also accessible to students with disabilities; however, students may use the
service of the specialized documentation centre, where publications from any library on campus
can be delivered to them.

McGill reserves two adapted public workstations (computers and scanner) in the law library for
students with disabilities, giving access to McGill’s catalogue and periodical index systems. The
workstations also have MS Word, Arkenstone Ruby scanning software, Dolphin HAL screen
reading software, and IBM home page reader. Other software can be added as required. A CCTV
print enlarger is also available at the law library. Elsewhere in the university, the Office for
Students with Disabilities makes available computers with special software, voice recognition, a
screen reader, Zoom Text, and a CCTV print enlarger and assists with book retrieval and
photocopying, scanning, Brailling and searching of databases. At the law library, a CCTV print
enlarger is available. A lab with adaptive equipment, situated at the main library, is available
during all hours that the library is open. Given advance notice from a student, the library will
provide other assistance. Loan renewals can be made by phone. Book returns are at wheelchair
level. In 1999-2000, when two blind students from overseas were enrolled in a graduate law
program, the Office for Students with Disabilities employed a work study student exclusively to
help blind students in law. McGill’s broad range of services work most reliably, however, if the
student can plan ahead and make an appointment for assistance, because certain facilities and
services depend on the student calling ahead and some services are available during scheduled
hours only.

Despite the many aforementioned services and supports, one blind respondent to our survey of
lawyers and law students reported difficulties using the main McGill library as well as the law
library and said that blind students had to rely a lot on other students for help. We can only guess
as to whether the difficulties experienced by the individual related to, for example, the capabilities
of particular staff members, serious flaws in the overall system or scheduling shortfalls on the part
of library staff and/or the student.

Sherbrooke libraries (including the Law Library) are wheelchair accessible. Students can request
that special equipment be made available at the library of their choice and the Office for Students
with Disabilities offers an escort service to the library. A student with any kind of disability can
thus use any of the libraries of the university. A centre for technical support provides students
with computers equipped with appropriate software and keyboards as well as other equipment that
can be used by students with vision and hearing impairments. At the Law Library a few adapted
workstations are available to students with disabilities and staff members will help to retrieve
books, periodicals and other documents.

UQAM’s libraries are wheelchair accessible with adapted tables. UQAM says that there is
always a staff member ready to help. The university also has a Laboratory of computers and
technologies where students can use and borrow specialized equipment such as desk computers
(seven) equipped with special software. Also available are access to the library catalogue and e-
mail and four laptops. All the equipment available is listed on the Internet. The Laboratory is said
to be accessible at any time through the Service for Integration of Persons with Disabilities or the
Office for Prevention and Security (Bureau de la prévention et de la sécurité).

At Laval University, students with vision impairment can use the equipment of the
“audiodiapotheque”. The room is easily accessible with two elevators equipped with voice
recognition system and has been set up with adapted furnishings and lighting. The available
equipment is listed on the website and includes three computers with specialized software and
other materials such as Braille dictionaries and tape recorders. For students with other types of
disabilities, nothing is said on accessibility and available equipment. However, the service for
students with disabilities told us that the library is wheelchair accessible. Students with types of
disabilities other than vision impairment use the same services as all other students and can
request help from the staff. The library does not offer adapted tables. The Law Library is part of
the main library and offers the same services as above.

12.9.3     Access to Administrative Offices, Cafeterias, Washrooms, etc.

Only a few universities publicize information on access to administrative offices, washrooms, and
so on. All relevant universities were contacted and confirmed, along with our survey respondents,
that administrative offices have been made accessible, more or less recently. The fact that some
universities mention little or no data regarding cafeterias or other facilities does not mean that all
of these facilities are inaccessible, though some probably are. It may simply mean that the
required information must be sought from the Office for Students with Disabilities. There are
many adapted facilities of different kinds, and a university may not report on them all

Most buildings on all campuses have adapted washrooms and fountains, and most also have
adapted telephones. Sherbrooke says that all its buildings have adapted washrooms, phones and
fountains on all floors. At Laval, there are adapted lockers. The McGill Law School cafeteria is
accessible. UQAM’s documentation states that there are reserved tables for students with
disabilities at the central cafeteria and that students may request help from staff members. Though
cafeterias at other universities may be accessible, they do not always have reserved or adapted
tables for students with disabilities.

12.10      Financial Assistance

All universities give some information through brochures and websites, on financial help from the
Québec Ministry of Education or the federal government. Unfortunately, if we compare
information coming from different universities, it is difficult to know what kind of public funding
is available from which government, and what requirements are to be fulfilled. Explanations
given by one university were not always coherent with the ones given by another university.
However, we determined that three different types of funding are available through public

Loans or bursaries
This program is available to all students with disabilities. There are special conditions for
students, who qualify as having a major functional disability, who will receive funding in the
form of a bursary rather than as a loan. This program is available only for Québec students who
have a disability recognized by the Ministry of Education (MEQ). For example, students with
learning disabilities are not recognized for funding. To qualify, students must take at least 6
credits per semester (2 courses, usually). A normal load is 15 credits, so a part-time student can

Allowances for special needs (Programme d’allocation pour les besoins particuliers).
This program from the MEQ is also reserved for Québec students. The program grants allowances
that cover some support services and special equipment, including note taking (with a maximum
of hours) and equipment that is necessary and directly linked to the program of study.

Ministry of Health funding
Technical equipment for some disability categories, such as devices for hard of hearing students,
and equipment for students who have a visual impairment, is funded by the Ministry of Health
(RAMQ), and is dispensed through relevant rehabilitation centres in the general off-campus
community. Other equipment which is useful beyond the academic milieu, such as a wheelchair,
is funded in a similar way. To qualify, the student must be registered for at least 6 credits. The
support is available to students who have been classified as being eligible for a bursary because
they have a “Major Functional Disability”. There is another eligibility category for students who
do not qualify for financial aid and who are classified as having a “Minor Functional Disability”.
(In other words, these eligible students are entitled to some low-cost support even though they do
not qualify for financial aid.) The Functional Disability designations are based on strict
definitions of the severity of a disability, such as the level of vision loss, hearing loss or mobility

Québec Health Insurance
UQAM’s documentation also signals that material resources for visual and hearing disabilities are
to be reimbursed by Québec Health Insurance, (under the general provincial public health
insurance system).

Allowance for transportation.
Students with disabilities can receive funding to pay for part of their transportation expenses in
relation to their studies, but this allowance is available only in areas where public transport is not
available. UQAM and Sherbrooke mentioned this help in their documentation.

All students with disabilities can also apply at their university for private funds available from the
university or from other private sources in the form of scholarships, fellowships, or bursaries.
Obviously, non-resident students should find out about public funding available from their own
province or territory.

All universities indicate in their brochures and on their websites where to obtain the information
on the different loans, bursaries, fellowships and scholarships available at university, provincial or
federal levels. McGill and Sherbrooke also provide a fair amount of detail on how to apply to the
Program for Special Needs Allowances (Programme d’allocation pour les besoins particuliers).

Students seeking financial help because of a disability should make inquiries at the university
Office for Students with Disabilities and at the university and law school offices that handle
student financial matters. The latter will usually be called the Student Financial Aid Office or
Bureau d’aide financière aux étudiants or some combination of these, depending on the
university. Often the staff at one office will know about funding sources about which the other
office seems unaware. The Office for Students with Disabilities may also assist students who need
help in applying for financial aid; for instance by collecting required information and helping to
complete application forms.
Once a student receives a loan, bursary, or scholarship, the Office for Students with Disabilities
may offer to provide assistance relating to applying the funds toward accommodation services.
For instance, if a student needs a personal assistant or attendant, the office may help the student to
select and hire that person, write the contract between the student and the person and pay the

One of our survey respondents was not told by his university or law school about any specific
financial help for students with disabilities.

Funding for students from other parts of Canada
Students from other provinces or territories who choose to study in Quebec, and who are in
receipt of a Canada Student Loan, can apply to the Canada Study Grant program to seek funding
for services and special equipment. These grants are administered by the home province but can
be used at out-of-province institutions. Documentation of disability is of course required.

12.11      Transportation and Parking

Université de Montréal has an on-campus, free of charge, adapted system of transport, available
from September to April, Monday to Friday from 8 am to 6 pm. Any student with a disability who
wants to use this service is asked to give his or her schedule to the Office for Students with
Disabilities. Then, the transport service will be established for the session, though with the
possibility of modification. For transportation in the city of Montréal, the university invites
students to contact the department for adapted transportation of the Service de Transport de la
Communauté Urbaine de Montréal (STCUM - MUCTC) - public transport. For students with
disabilities who need parking, the university has reserved spaces close to entrances, in each
parking area. Students using those spaces must have the appropriate provincial automobile sticker
as well as the parking sticker of the university. For students with temporary needs, it is possible to
obtain from the university a sticker with “H” (handicapé(e)) on it.

A student who has a mobility disability and provides supporting medical documentation when
registering with the McGill Office for Students with Disabilities will be able to use McGill’s
adapted transport service, free of charge. This is available on the main campus (downtown, where
the law school is located) from Monday to Friday from 8 am to 5:30 pm. McGill says that a
student needs only to contact the driver from any phone (or from designated phones). Service off-
campus or to McGill’s satellite MacDonald campus requires registration with the department for
adapted transportation of the (public) Service de Transport de la Communauté Urbaine de
Montréal (STCUM). Through the Office for Students with Disabilities and the Parking Office,
reserved parking is available at McGill for students who require parking related to a temporary or
permanent disability, after submission of the relevant medical documentation. The monthly fee
for preferential parking is equivalent to the cost of a monthly STCUM bus pass (less than half the
normal parking rate).

Sherbrooke University does not operate an adapted campus transportation service for students
with disabilities. The university invites students to contact the service for adapted transportation
of the Corporation métropolitaine de transport de Sherbrooke (public transportation). The
Corporation proposes two types of services for transportation of persons with disabilities (seven

days per week until midnight). Underground tunnels are also available among all buildings,
except the students’ residences, and are easy to access in wheelchairs. Reserved parking is
available in all buildings and is close to wheelchair accessible entrances. No detail is given on
how to get authorization, but one presumes that the procedure is similar to McGill’s (i.e.,
authorization based on medical data).

There is no adapted transportation for UQAM. Twelve parking spaces have been reserved for
persons with disabilities. For information on authorization and prices, a phone number is given.
The university gives a list of vehicle stops for adapted transportation by STCUM (public
transportation) and provides a related phone number. The Service for Students with Disabilities
explains that there are no real problems with transportation on the campus since it is really
centralized. We hope that this assessment is not overly optimistic, since we understand that a few
important UQAM buildings such as the Student Services building are located away from the main
campus site.

Printed and internet documentation from Laval University gives little information on adapted
transportation. It refers students to the Société des transports de la communauté urbaine de
Québec (STCUQ) - Québec public transport, and to the Service for students with disabilities. The
Service for students with disability informed us that the public transport is enough to satisfy the
needs of students with disabilities since it goes all around the campus. Moreover, all buildings are
linked together with tunnels, which makes travel between buildings easier in all seasons. The
Service for students with disabilities informed us that parking spaces are reserved at the entrance
of each building, for a reduced price.

12.12      Housing

Université de Montréal has made available eight apartments specially designed to accommodate
students with physical disabilities. These spaces can be rented for a year or a session. They are
double normal size and offer equipment such as a double electrical bed, easy access drawers and
cupboards, removable work station, individual heating, bath or shower room (shower with direct
access for a wheelchair), security rings, automatic doors, and so on. There is no information
available on the website about off-campus housing. We learned however, that there is a student
service focused on off-campus housing. Two staff members are available to retrieve the
information from a computer database, including data on the accessibility of the lodging.

McGill University documentation does not mention questions related to housing, but the Office
for Students with Disabilities informed us that there are accessible apartments on the campus at
Solin Hall and that accessible rooms are also available for women at Royal Victoria College.
However, the university’s general policy is to reserve the rooms in residences for first year
students. Law students, who usually have another university degree, are thus not eligible for
rooms in residence. Nonetheless, the Office for Students with Disabilities is able to arrange for an
upper year student who needs an accessible room to live in residence. A list of off-campus
housing is available but does not mention if those apartments or rooms are accessible or adapted
for students with disabilities.

Sherbrooke University has reserved and accommodated a wing of La Maison des Étudiants with
an adapted kitchen and easy access rooms for students with disabilities. All student residences
also have access ramps, accommodated washrooms, fountains and parking spaces, but
information regarding adaptations and equipment in the rooms themselves is not available. The
Service for students with disabilities explained that adaptations include access ramps, lower
wardrobes and drawers and lower work stations. According to Sherbrooke, there are no real
limitations in the number of rooms that can be accommodated outside La Maison des Étudiants,
because the service will request accommodation according to the number of demands.

A service for off-campus lodging is available at the Office for Students with a Disability. A list of
apartments and rooms close to the university campus is available, with information on whether
the lodging is adapted or not for a student with a disability.

Eight rooms in UQAM student residences have been accommodated for students with disabilities
and a list of adapted accommodations in the Montréal area is available. Phone numbers are given
for students who would like more information re campus and off-campus housing.

Laval University does not offer fully adapted housing in residences (such as the one offered at
Université de Montréal) but some rooms are accessible to students with disabilities. Laval offers
disability accommodations such as larger rooms and private bathrooms. Laval does not have a list
of off-campus housing at the moment. A student group is reportedly working on the problem,
however. That information is not mentioned in the brochure nor on the website of the Office for
Students with Disabilities.

12.13      Other Information

With the 1994 Framework Policy on Integration of People with Disabilities (Politique cadre sur
l’intégration des personnes handicapées), Québec universities are committed to “ensure
integration of students with disabilities”. Such integration should include participation of students
with disabilities in university life, including access to sports, cultural and other social events, and
assistance in finding employment at the time of their studies and after. Most universities and law
schools do not deal with those questions in their brochures and websites. UQAM and McGill do
hand out a bit of related information, mainly on employment issues. Both universities offer
services of information and counselling to students with disabilities to find employment during
and after their studies.

12.13.1 Employment Issues

Most university career and placement services do not provide special workshops or adapted phone
lines (TTY/ATS) for students with disabilities; however, the list of possible employment is
usually available on the Internet and posted at the university placement office.

Over the phone, UQAM informed us that its career and placement service is not truly accessible.
The service counts a lot on UQAM’s Service for Students with Disabilities which also receives
direct information on jobs available to persons with a disability. The information is distributed to
students each month.

McGill publishes a pamphlet for students with disabilities on using the McGill Career and
Placement Service (CAPS). Workshops and counselling are offered on problems faced in a job
search by persons with a disability.

At Université de Montréal, students with a disability have access to the same placement program
as all other students. The Office for Students with Disabilities also cooperates on work integration
with an association called AIM CROIT (IAM CARES) as does McGill.

Sherbrooke and Laval career and placement services are the same for all students. When the
Offices for Students with Disabilities of those universities are contacted by businesses that have
employment available for persons with a disability, office staff transmits these requests to

12.13.2 Access to Athletic Facilities and Sports

UQAM informs students that it has some sports equipment adapted for students with disabilities.
On the other hand, the portion of the student’s fee that is allocated for sports can be reimbursed on
presentation of an appropriate medical certificate. The Service for Students with Disabilities
would like to see the sports centre made more accessible.

At Sherbrooke University, swimming pools and showers are accessible and there is a training
centre for wheelchair athletes.

Université de Montréal told us that students with disabilities would face no particular limitations
if they wish to engage in any athletic activities. Laval University also informed that students with
disabilities can participate in most sports activities there.

McGill athletic facilities are accessible and assistance is available, if required, to use the pool,
exercise room etc. Students enrolled in the Physical Education program have a disability access
component and can assist students on a regular basis. Showers and washrooms are accessible.

12.13.3 Access to Social Events

Information is lacking regarding accommodation to aid participation of students with disabilities
in university social events. Students who answered the survey expressed concerns regarding
participation in social events and conferences because of the lack of accommodations such as
access ramps or sign language. As is mentioned in earlier chapters of this Guide, social interaction
can be quite important in building contacts that can assist students to succeed in law school and
later in their legal careers.

The governing document of the Law Students’ Association at McGill Law School specifically
disallows discrimination on the basis of disability and the Law Students’ Association has a less
formal policy requiring all student events to be accessible. The Law School also has an
association called Law Students with Disabilities, whose membership indicated that the law
faculty and students at McGill have recently become more aware of the need to accommodate
students with have disabilities in extracurricular activities, as well as in academic matters.

Chapter 13.0

13 Financing for Law School and Other Expenses

13.1       Introduction to Chapter 13

If you are considering attending law school, you should be aware that published figures for full-
time tuition at Canadian law schools range from approximately $2500 to $6600 per year. Living
costs and other educational expenses such as books, photocopying and student fees are of course
additional. Most students finance their post-secondary education through loans, either from the
government or private lending institutions, supplemented by summer or part-time employment. It
is beyond the scope of this Guide to enumerate all possible sources of funding (loans,
scholarships, bursaries, and grants). What follows is a general discussion of things students
should be aware of. You will no doubt research funding sources extensively before applying to
law school. The Internet is a valuable resource, but your main source will likely be university and
faculty of law student aid offices.

Funding was a contentious issue for several of our survey participants. The student who has a
disability may incur additional living expenses, such as transportation, attendant care and medical
costs that are not covered by government financial assistance programs or by university or
community special service providers. The expense of relocating to another city to attend law
school can be prohibitive, which further restricts the options of many students. In addition,
students who have a disability may be unable to work part-time during the academic term for
various reasons, putting them at further economic disadvantage. In any case, some authorities
strongly advise all first-year law students to focus on their studies and not have part- time jobs.
Even though most law schools and universities have policies in place to recognize the right of all
students to equal access for educational opportunities, it is unfortunate that many students are, in
reality, barred from full participation because of financial considerations related to their disability.

It is recommended that you begin your search for information about funding by contacting the
financial services office of each relevant academic institution. Most university and faculty of law
Internet sites provide links to financial information and online brochures are usually the most
useful starting points. Information about private scholarships, application procedures, and loan
and grant sources is available in the Internet.

If you are applying for a loan or grant, it is recommended that you begin to investigate your
options as far as possible in advance of the school’s filing deadline.

Do not wait until after you have received admission offers to begin this process.

Once you have determined which school(s) you want to attend, you can request all relevant
government grant and loan application documents from the university financial office(s).
Information on application forms is available at each university's and law school’s website.
Many survey respondents indicated that they were not sufficiently informed of potential
assistance prior to law school and that such assistance would have made a difference in the
quality of their experience. An associated problem is that information about financial assistance is
not always available in alternate formats. Note that in March 2000, the National Educational
Association of Disabled Students published the National Directory of Financial Assistance
Programs for Post-Secondary Students with Disabilities. It is also available on-line at:

13.2       Grants

Grants, though more difficult to qualify for and not widely available, are preferable to loans, since
students are not required to pay them back. Canada Study Grants (formerly Special Opportunity
Grants) are available to qualified full-time and part-time students with permanent disabilities, to
those who demonstrate exceptional financial need and women in traditionally under-represented
doctoral disciplines (Internet Site of Human Resources Development Canada - HRDC). It is
interesting to note that very many of our survey participants seemed unaware of this option.

Canadian students (part-time or full-time) who demonstrate that they have a permanent disability
may be entitled to a federal grant of up to $5,000.00 for each year of study in an approved
program of study. The grant is to cover exceptional education-related expenses associated with a
disability, such as attendant care, transportation, tutors, or specialized equipment. Students must
provide satisfactory evidence of permanent disability that limits the ability to participate fully in
post-secondary studies. They must also be enrolled in at least 40% of the full-time course load or
at least 20% of the part-time course load (HRDC Internet site).

To apply for a grant, you must first complete an application for a Canada Student Loan (see part
13.3 below) to establish your financial needs. Loan applications are available from any university
student financial aid office, as are additional information and application forms for the grants.

Part-time students who demonstrate high financial need may be eligible for an additional grant of
up to $1,200 per year. Part-time students with a disability who have exceptional financial need
may apply for both a disability-related grant and a grant related to severe financial need. To be
eligible, one must satisfy all the requirements for a part-time Canada Student Loan and also
provide supporting documentation showing an inability to attend on a full-time basis. The
applicant must also have a gross income of not more than $14,000 per year (for a single student).
The amount of grant entitlement is higher for applicants who have dependents. Information on
part-time student grants is available from any student aid office (HRDC Internet site).

13.3       Government Loans

The federal government, through Human Resources Development Canada, provides loans to
qualified post-secondary students who demonstrate financial need. In addition, each province has
a student assistance program (to which residency requirements usually attach). Applicants must
demonstrate that their financial requirements for attendance at school exceed their means.
Government loans are generally preferable to private institutional loans in that the interest rate is
lower and there is more flexibility regarding repayment.

Information on the Canada Student Loans program may be obtained from a university or faculty
financial assistance office or from:

Human Resources Development Canada
The Learning and Literacy Directorate
P.O. Box 2900, Station D
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6C6
Telephone: (819) 994-1844
Toll free: 1-800-432-7377 (English)
Toll free: 1-800-733-3765 (French)
TTY: (819) 994-1218

Canada Student Loan Program (CSLP) funding consists of both a full-time and part-time loans
program. Under the full-time program, the CSLP covers 60% of each student’s assessed need, up
to a weekly maximum. The remaining 40% of the assessed need may be covered by provincial
student loans programs or through other assistance.

A significant feature of the CSLP is the in-school interest subsidy. This program pays the interest
on a CSLP while you are enrolled in full-time studies at a post-secondary institution, so that you
are not required to pay interest on your loan, or make any payments towards the principal during
that time.

The part-time study program is built around the assumption that most part-time students are
already working and have their living expenses covered. It is designed to supplement other
sources of income, and can provide up to $4,000 in assistance for each year of study.

The CSLP offers students with a disability relaxed eligibility criteria for full-time student status.
Under the general conditions when you apply for a Canada Student Loan, you have to be enrolled
in 60% of a full course load to qualify as a full-time student. However, a student with a permanent
disability need only register for 40% of a full course load. Correspondingly, the part-time
requirements are also reduced.

The program also recognizes that a permanent disability may mean that a student with a disability
can never repay a loan, because of difficulty in seeking or obtaining, a full-time job that would
enable repayment of the CSLP. In these cases, the program offers a permanent disability benefit,
which may allow application to have a loan forgiven.

NEADS sits as a member of the National Advisory Group on Student Financial Assistance. This
group, which reports to the Minister of Human Resources Development, is one of the three groups
that comprise the program’s efforts to consult with key stakeholders. Students who feel that their
needs are not being addressed or that their voices are not being heard, can contact the NEADS
office with the specifics of any concern. In this way, the information can be passed to program
administrators through the National Advisory Group.

Re-payment of federal loans must commence six months after the conclusion of studies. Students
are eligible for tax credits on the interest portion paid on the loan each year. Defaulting may have
serious consequences. The lender and the government can take measures to recover the debt,
which may include a report to credit agencies, using collection companies or taking legal action.
Pursuant to the provisions of the Canada Student Loans Act and Regulations and the Canada
Student Financial Assistance Act, students cannot avoid repaying federal or provincial student
loans by declaring bankruptcy for a period of ten years after the completion of studies (HRDC
Internet site).

Students who demonstrate difficulty repaying their loans because of low income may apply for
assistance under the federal Interest Relief Plan. Under this Plan, the government may assume
interest payments for a limited time (to a maximum of 30 months). To be eligible, one's family
income must be less than a level determined by the size of the family and the size of the monthly
loan payment. Special circumstances may also qualify a person for relief (such as unforeseen
medical expenses or other emergencies). Applications for interest relief are available from the
lending institution. The federal government may also, in exceptional circumstances, reduce the
principal balance. The lending institution may also agree to revised repayment terms (for
example, reducing the amount of the monthly payment where there is a reduction in income).
Check the HRDC website for other details on interest relief.

13.4       Private Institutional (Bank) Loans

Students who do not qualify for government loans or grants may seek bank loans to finance their
education. To qualify, one must have a good credit history and/or a loan co-signer. Students are
required to pay interest on the principal sum every month, even when attending school, which
could be problematic for students who are unable to work part-time for medical or other reasons.
The interest rate for private institutional loans may be substantially higher than for government
student loans. The principal must usually be paid back commencing immediately after completion
of studies.

13.5       Scholarships and Bursaries

Scholarships and bursaries may be given on the basis of either need or merit or in recognition of
achievement. They may also (although less frequently) be awarded on the basis of inclusion in a
certain disadvantaged group, which can include people with disabilities. Most scholarships are
conferred by the individual law school, although corporations, law societies, bar associations and
community service groups and foundations are also potential sources. Applicants must take the
initiative in researching possible scholarship opportunities because they are not usually widely
promoted. In fact, this lack of promotion can preclude qualified students from applying. Several
survey participants indicated that had they been aware of these potential avenues for assistance,
they would have taken advantage of them to reduce their financial burden.

The best sources for information about scholarships and bursaries are university and faculty of
law financial aid offices, which can provide advice and application forms. The Internet is also a
valuable research resources in finding disability-specific scholarship opportunities. The NEADS
directory mentioned in 13.1 above gives a comprehensive list of scholarships and bursaries.
13.6       Provincial Social Assistance

Students with disabilities may qualify for social assistance or income support from their
provincial or territorial government while in attendance at law school. In recent years, however,
government cutbacks have had a negative impact on the availability and quality of such programs.
In addition, most government disability support schemes have residency requirements that dictate
students must be residents and attend schools in their own province. Most benefits are not
portable between provinces. Students may be required to pay in whole or in part for their own
personal assistants, transportation, or tutors.

Social assistance usually takes the form of monthly payments intended to assist with living
expenses. The amount a student is entitled to receive under such programs is not high and, often,
is barely enough to cover even basic expenses. Most social assistance programs do offer medical
coverage (including dental care, prescription medications, eye glasses, or other assistive devices
such as wheelchairs and hearing aids).

Students with disabilities may qualify for additional assistance for technological support for such
things as computers if they demonstrate that they require them for school purposes. (It is also
worth checking with your university's Special Needs Office, which may receive an annual fund
for such purposes.)

Information on provincial disability supports can be obtained from government social services
office. Funding is generally dependent upon financial need and is for rehabilitative purposes or
technological supports. In addition, not all disabilities are recognized for government assistance.
However, students are encouraged to be persistent in their efforts. Law students in more than one
province have received rehabilitation funding from their provincial governments. If you have a
disability that the provincial authority is not accustomed to recognizing, you may need to
persuade the agency that your disability and situation fall within the program's mandate.

13.7       Experiences and Insights Concerning Financing

The following recollections and recommendations by law students and lawyers with disabilities
were gathered from surveys, interviews, and focus group discussions across Canada in 1999-

13.7.1     Negative Experiences and Insights

Many students paid for their own assistants, tutors or recording of textbooks because they were
unaware that they qualified for assistance or because existing programs were inadequate.

In one focus group a student said that she would have chosen a different law school if she had
been aware of problems with the way her current law school assigned and calculated course; loads
for full-time and pert-time studies. As was noted under 13.2 above, eligibility for a grant can
depend on such factors. (With regard to formulas related to part-time course loads and funding

eligibility, a law school that one student recommended was the law faculty at the University of

“It should be noted that diagnostic tests required for purposes of establishing entitlement to
support services or examination/other accommodation may be the responsibility of the student.”

13.7.2     Positive Recollections and Recommendations

The professionals and staff at law schools and universities and within government will not always
know about all support programs that exist. A student with a learning disability required a tutor to
assist with reading comprehension, organization, and written language skills but was not aware
until the second year of legal studies that funding assistance for tutors was available. This
discovery was made by chance and was quickly pursued through a string of phone calls to locate
the appropriate government program.

“If you do not have to worry about where your money is coming from, it helps you to focus on
your studies.”

“Check the university's Resource Guide to see if it tells you that there is some kind of limit on the
amount of tuition for people with disabilities.”

One deaf student who entered law school in the mid-1990’s had exhausted eligibility for funding
under an existing vocational rehabilitation program. (The student had already earned a degree and
had been employed for some time.) In order to study law, the student needed the accommodation
of either sign language interpretation or real-time captioning. The law school refused to pay for
such assistance. Through the province’s human rights commission, the law student initiated a
complaint against the university. The university settled the case, agreeing to pay the thousands of
dollars per year for the specific needed accommodations. The funds were administered by the
university’s centre for students with disabilities. The student, now a lawyer, was required to
maintain confidentiality concerning the settlement.

Chapter 14.0

14 Accommodating for Disabilities in Provincial Bar
   Admission Courses and in Qualification Courses
   for Québec’s Notariat
A Bar Admission Student’s Experience:

               An individual with a learning disability who requested
               accommodations for writing Bar Admission Course exams
               reported that the relevant Law Society did not respond fully or
               adequately. Course administrators did take some positive
               steps, but these fell short of the student’s reasonable
               expectations. The administrators provided the student with
               extra time and the use of a computer in a private room. Plus,
               they acknowledged that an alternate format for examinations
               was appropriate for this student’s disability. Difficulty arose
               because alternate formats for two of the multiple-choice
               exams (i.e., in a format that was not multiple-choice) were
               unavailable when needed. The potential arose for the student
               to miss the date for call to the Bar if the student did not obtain
               high enough marks on a first attempt and thus needed to
               rewrite either exam or both. The Law Society failed to prepare
               the alternate exams in a timely fashion, notwithstanding that it
               had over two years of notice of this applicant’s needs. This
               left the student without the same opportunities as other
               students to rewrite the examinations if required.


14.1       Introduction to Chapter 14

Across Canada, Bar Admission programs are an essential component of professional development
and qualification for law graduates wishing to enter the legal profession. Bar Admission Courses
are designed to help students reach entry-level professional competence as lawyers, and are
generally taught as an adjunct to a period of articling (usually a year). During the 12 months of
articles, students are provided with skills training and courses on legislation and other substantive
law. In some provinces and territories, though candidates for the profession must write exams,
there may be instructional sessions, but no formal extended course involving classroom teaching.

Programs differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction in their format, scheduling, and scope. This
chapter compares course offerings while highlighting how issues for persons with disabilities are
addressed. Our analysis is based on (a) responses to questionnaires and follow-up questions
answered by students, law graduates and Bar Admission administrators in the common law
jurisdictions and Québec, (b) responses to questions directed at administrators of Notariat
programs in Québec and (c) our own Internet research. This part of the Guide investigates
primarily the formal course components of Bar Admission programs. Reach Canada envisages
covering the occupational and training elements of articling in future research on employment
accommodations in the legal profession.

14.2       Organization of Bar Admission and Notariat Programs

The Bar Admission Program offered in each jurisdiction is unique in format and structure.
Differences among these programs with respect to their length, timetable, and course content
provide both challenges and advantages for candidates with disabilities. The following
comparisons illustrate the contrasts among programs offered.

The Professional Legal Training Course (PLTC) offered by Continuing Legal Education (CLE) in
British Columbia is a 10-week course which may be taken at any stage during the articling year,
depending on the availability of sessions. For the duration of this intensive ten-week course,
students are required to write a series of examinations on substantive law and to complete
assignments aimed at improving practical skills. PLTC’s flexibility in scheduling allows for the
candidate to request attendance on a part-time basis depending on individual needs and the
availability of courses. Requests for part-time status must be submitted six months in advance for
approval by the Director of PLTC.

The Ontario Bar Admission Course (BAC) is administered by the Law Society of Upper Canada
(LSUC). The course is divided into three phases: stage one is comprised of a month long
preparatory period for articling; stage two consists of a 12 month articling period; and stage three
focuses on eight licensing courses over a 12 week period. Part-time articles may be pursued in
Ontario, but because of the program’s three-phase nature, Ontario requires that such articling be
spread over three years. The BAC generally commences in September. Students are often given a
choice between morning or afternoon sessions. This flexibility may assist students with special
needs. Classes consist of both large lectures and small seminar groups; the latter provide for the
building of a rapport among individual group members. Under a Bar Reform plan, in early 2000
Bar Admission directors were revising the program, planning to make it available in a more
flexible manner in 2001.

The Nova Scotia Barrister’s Society is responsible for the Bar Admission Course in Nova Scotia.
The three components for the Nova Scotia program are a Bar Exam, a skills course, and a variety
of seminars. Bar Exams in Nova Scotia are offered in Halifax in both summer and winter. Prince
Edward Island students-at-law also participate in the program run by the Nova Scotia Barrister’s
Society, as a requirement for qualification in P.E.I. Their examinations are set by L.S.P.E.I.
however. Nova Scotia and P.E.I. do not permit part-time articles.

The requirements for professional qualification in New Brunswick entail 44 weeks of articles and
an 8-week Bar Admission Course. The course is held in four two-week sessions during the Bar
Admission year. There appears to be no flexibility or choice of sessions within the articling year
but New Brunswick provides for completion of the program over a three-year period. This
provision, extending the period of articles, may provide the option for students to attend part-

Newfoundland requires students to complete written exercises for evaluation by the Law Society
during the 12 months of articles. Students are examined after a seven-week bar admissions course
in substantive law. The Law Society in Newfoundland has stated emphatically that articles are to
be full time.

For admission to the bar in Manitoba, a candidate must complete 12 months of articles, including
32 days of bar admission courses offered weekly from August to April. Nine exams are held
intermittently during the year. The Law Society rules provide for part-time articles. The procedure
is similar to that of British Columbia. Proposals from candidates to complete the articling
requirements on a part-time basis are considered and evaluated to assess whether part- time
articles would provide a suitable articling experience.

Québec differs significantly from the other jurisdictions in that the Chambre des notaires du
Québec and the Barreau du Québec each have responsibilities for creating and maintaining
standards for legal professionals within Québec. Admission criteria for both the Notariat and the
Bar contain an academic requirement and the need for professional accreditation by either the
Chambre or the Barreau du Québec. Once a student has fulfilled the academic requirement, the
Chambre des Notaires or the Barreau are responsible for further training. One main difference
between qualification programs offered to future lawyers and notaries is that the Chambre des
Notaires is responsible for only the apprenticeship part of the admission process for its profession,
with the academic part being supervised by universities, while the Barreau du Québec assumes
responsibility for both the academic and the apprenticeship parts of Bar admission.

Candidates wishing to become Notaries or lawyers must first complete a three-year degree in law
(called a License or Baccalauréat). Those wishing to pursue careers as Notaries must then obtain a
university degree in notary law (Diplôme de droit notarial - D.D.N.). After successfully
completing this one-year program, students are required to complete an internship of thirty-two
weeks under the supervision of the Chambres des Notaires du Québec. There are three
universities in Québec that offer the Diplôme de Droit Notarial - Université de Montréal,
Sherbrooke and Laval. In Ontario, the University of Ottawa formerly had a notarial program for
Québec but this program has been suspended.

Accommodations for disabilities during notarial studies are provided by individual universities.
Since the notarial degrees are run by the universities, students with disabilities who are interested
in entering the Chambre des notares should review Chapter 12 of this Guide. A student in a
notarial degree programme will have access to accommodations and services similar to those
available for a student with disabilities at the Law School on the same university campus.

As was noted above, a student wishing to enter the Québec Bar must initially take a three-year
degree in law (License or Baccalauréat). Upon successful completion of the law degree, the
graduate applies to one of the Ecoles du Barreau, normally in the city where the applicant has
studied law. The Barreau du Québec has established four Ecoles, in Sherbrooke, Montréal,
Ottawa, and Québec City, each with an independent administration. In rare cases, such as when
disability accommodation is unavailable at one location, a student may be permitted to attend the
course in a different city. A centralized Access Committee (Comité d’accès à la profession)
conducts a review to determine the academic and professional eligibility of applicants to all
schools, and also decides whether to approve requests by applicants who want to attend the course
in a different city. The schools follow general requirements of training established by the Barreau.
Preparation for the Bar entails eight months of substantive law and skills training, in addition to a
six-month internship.

We have observed that there are two supervisory bodies for the legal profession in Québec. Bar
Admission programs in the common law jurisdictions are administered individually by the law
society (or “bar society” or “barristers” society) of each province or territory. The law societies
are responsible, like any other professional body, for governing themselves and ensuring
professional standards amongst their members. Just as the regulations vary in each jurisdiction,
requirements for access and reasonable accommodations for disabilities are not made uniformly
across the country.

Students and administrators who provided input to our study identified a wide range of needs
requiring accommodation. Individuals disclosed a variety of physical/upper body mobility
problems and visual and hearing impairments. Students were accommodated for learning
disabilities, and chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, muscular dystrophy, and
hypoglycaemia. Other individuals were accommodated while undergoing rehabilitation or
suffering from other conditions that required facilitation.

Several students required extra time, use of a computer and assistance in completing answer
sheets in order to overcome their disabilities during examinations. In some instances, separate
rooms were provided for written or oral exams. Materials have been produced in large print, on
disk, and transcribed into Braille to provide for visually impaired or blind students. Hearing
impaired and deaf classmates have been assisted through the use of special technology and
interpreters. Printouts of class materials and extended time for assignments were also provided to
minimize barriers faced by students in the classroom.

Our project’s procedure for contacting students and lawyers who have disabilities were designed
to respect privacy. The educational institutions we approached for assistance in reaching people
who might wish to respond to our survey also respect student confidentiality. We were thus
hampered in our ability to communicate with potential respondents. While the inability to contact
directly those requesting accommodations did limit the number of responses from students and
lawyers for the bar admission survey - we achieved some success despite the odds. Privacy
legislation and the reluctance of individuals to self-identify contribute to an environment where it
is difficult to assess the full needs and extent of participation by individuals with disabilities
within the legal community. Further complicating this situation is the inability or unwillingness of
some law societies to maintain statistics and records pertaining to accommodations offered to
candidates who have disabilities.

Based on data received from lawyers, bar admission administrators and students, we know that
the total number of students with disabilities, or requiring accommodations for some other valid
personal or family reason, is fairly low. Statistics available are scant. For British Columbia,
Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Alberta, Prince Edward Island, and the Territories, no statistics were
available to us. Saskatchewan estimates the number at about one percent, and Newfoundland cited
one medical case in recent memory (note that yearly enrolment for Newfoundland is limited to
approximately 30 students). New Brunswick has one recorded accommodation request. No
statistics were available from the Notariat in Québec. The Québec Bar estimates that it receives
about two to five students with disabilities out of 1000 students each year. The Law Society of
Upper Canada provided statistics for the 78 students they have on record as needing
accommodations. Within this group 6.4 percent had physical and mobility disabilities, 44 percent
had chronic medical problems, 13 percent had learning disabilities, 2.6 percent were deaf/hearing
impaired, 5.1 percent were blind/visually impaired, and a further 29 percent had a variety of
temporary and permanent disabilities that required accommodations.

14.3       Challenges Faced by Bar Admission Candidates Who Have

14.3.1         Surviving in the Bar Admission Course Environment

Personal characteristics and factors such as stamina, resources, and time constraints vary to make
each case unique. Bar Admission candidates face the same physical challenges as in law school.
During the bar admission process, however, there are additional pressures for many individuals
who are facing the daunting task of embarking on a first or new career after acquiring a disability.
Competition to obtain articles and then find an employer willing to hire a Bar graduate who has a
disability further complicates the issue. Regardless of the policies and accommodations made, the
central mandate of the Law Societies is not to make the profession more open and equitable.
Rather it is to ensure that each graduate of the Bar program is competent to practise law. These
aims are not mutually exclusive but the two may conflict when demands are placed on the
individual to test his or her competency, without giving adequate consideration of individual

There is a concern reported by many students with disabilities that they must be cautious about
disclosing a disability and requesting an accommodation in their Bar Admission course. What if a
potential employer unfairly perceives the need for an accommodation as an indication of a
reduced ability to succeed in the legal profession? When discussing their Law Society’s
application process, some students expressed worry about the potential implications if a student
discloses information on a form re a disability and then one’s employer (especially a private law
firm) learns about the disability. One articling student explained, “I hadn’t been hired back yet,
and I didn’t know how confidential the form was”.

Many other students found that challenges were increased by changes in their study patterns as
compared to their undergraduate programs. Bar Admission courses may require full days of study
over a continuous period of up to 12 weeks, while many law school programs allow for greater
flexibility and shorter days. In addition to the longer hours, students said they had difficulty with
a heavier workload that required frequent written assignments. While foregoing the opportunity to
seek accommodations, students “hoped it would not be a problem”. Other candidates “thought
[they] would be able to manage, but it didn’t work out that way”. The study component of bar
admission programs is generally short compared to what students had experienced in law school.
There is some evidence that students may try to put their disability accommodation needs on the
back burner and forge ahead unaided if their disability is not highly visible. The significantly
longer duration of university courses precluded many students from even considering this option
while in undergraduate studies or law school.

In one instance, the Law Society of Upper Canada, for phase three of its Bar Admission program,
refused to grant a student the same accommodations that were received in law school, although it
is generally their practice to do so. This example emphasizes the discretionary nature of
accommodations for Bar Admission programs. Even jurisdictions with written policies will look
at each applicant individually to determine which accommodations they consider reasonable. An
articled student-at-law does face a risk of not having accommodations to which she or he became
accustomed throughout law school.

14.3.2         To disclose or not to disclose? That is the question…

For the majority of survey respondents, disclosure and identification of their disability created no
difficulties whatsoever but others were very concerned about the possible implications of
disclosing. Obviously, we obtained this information from individuals who did in fact reveal their
disabilities to request accommodations in their Bar Admissions program, because individuals who
chose not to disclose would not come to the attention of course administrators nor us. Some
students who hesitated before deciding to disclose a disability explained their rationale.

Our questionnaires were designed to determine, from the perspectives of both administrators and
students, the benefits and disadvantages of disclosing a disability. Some students remained unsure
of the confidentiality of the process for requesting accommodations. Often candidates with hidden
disabilities such as a head injury or a learning disability make a deliberate choice as to whether
they will disclose the existence, nature or extent of their disability. Students worry that if future
employers discover they have a hidden disability, it will prejudice career opportunities. The
attitude of other students, in a highly competitive atmosphere, may also give rise to fears of
reaction if one discloses disability and receives accommodations.

Administrators prefer students to request accommodation prior to beginning a session. The policy
in place in British Columbia requires that accommodations be requested in writing at least 30
days before the commencement of the course. In contrast, the Benchers in Manitoba approved a
policy requiring requests to be submitted in writing at least 30 days before the accommodation is
to be implemented. In some instances, documentation and background information on the
disability is required during the application process. Administrators expressed that forewarning
was extremely important for planning and administrative functions.

Criteria listed by different jurisdictions for determining eligibility for accommodations include the
impact on other students’ participation and evaluation, cost implications, and alternate approaches
for accommodating the request. A variety of these interests can be met, provided that
administrators are given adequate notice. Aside from administrative convenience, Bar Admission
officials expressed concern over the student reaching his or her potential. More than one of the
administrators contacted maintained that students who self-disclosed early had a far greater
success rate. Students can still encounter problems in jurisdictions that have no accommodation
policy in place, or in which bar admission officials do not accept assessments of accommodation
needs that were made by experts during the student’s law school years. A number of jurisdictions
begin with the reasonable presumption that accommodations needed by an individual during law
school will still be needed in the Bar program.

Although self-identification is recommended early in the process, responses from students that
disclosed their disabilities after the initial application process were overwhelmingly positive when

describing their experience with the Toronto office of the Law Society of Upper Canada.
Candidates with disabilities were provided with the accommodations requested. They were given
private interviews to ensure discretion and to facilitate the sharing of information pertinent to
arranging the right accommodations.

In deciding whether to disclose a disability and seek accommodations, students should consider
that in addition to the time spent in the classroom, many of the Bar Admission course classes
require two to three hours of preparation. Even more time is needed when studying for
examinations, and a student with certain disabilities would face an unfair examination
disadvantage without accommodations.

14.3.3         Choosing a Location For The Program

With our small sample of survey responses, it is difficult to make general statements. All but three
of the jurisdictions we received information from did not offer choices as to the city or location in
which a student might take a course. For a majority of students leaving law school, moreover, the
choice is: “in which province do I wish to practise?”, not “where would it be the most convenient
to take the bar admission course”. A few respondents did demonstrate their concerns regarding
community access and services. A respondent from British Columbia commented that economic
reasons and general accessibility in the city of Vancouver influenced his decision on where he
took the bar course. He wrote that, “Vancouver was one of the most accessible and
accommodating cities in the world”.

The majority of provinces do not offer choices of locations for the bar course. In British
Columbia, all but one session of PLTC is offered in Vancouver with one session being taught in
Victoria. Both locations are described as wheelchair friendly and the Law Society has expressed a
commitment to improving facilities and accommodations.
Ontario offers the choice of three locations. The Law Society of Upper Canada provides bar
admission courses in Toronto, London, and Ottawa. The Toronto and London locations provide
elevators and access to washrooms, administrative offices and classrooms. Students attending the
course in Ottawa are limited to facilities on one floor as elevators are not available, though
cooperative arrangements have been made between administrators and individual students to
work around the problem. The BAC is also available on a Distance Education basis to students at
11 locations including Windsor, Northern Ontario, Québec, the United Kingdom, and the USA.

Students from Québec explained that they are usually expected to apply to the centre in the area
where their law school is located. Special reasons are needed to register at another centre. There
are centres at Sherbrooke University and the University of Ottawa. (Information on
accommodations at Sherbrooke may be found in Chapter 12 of this guidebook.) The other two
centres, La Maison du Barreau in Montréal and the facility at Québec have access for physical
disabilities. Accommodations for other disabilities may vary from location to location. In
provinces that offer a choice, a student who has a preference regarding a location or a particular
available course session should state that choice to program administrators at the earliest possible
date, in case the desired location or course fills up early.

14.3.4         Funding Issues For Bar Admission Candidates

Funding is of major concern to every student finishing law school. Respondents to our
questionnaire identified no issues specific to their disabilities, though it may be a significant
consideration for other Bar candidates with disabilities. In British Columbia, funding is either
provided by the employer or by the individual applying for articles. Although a student may be
required to pay for PLTC, the course may not be taken unless the student provides proof of
(completing articles) (having an articling position). In Ontario, a student may begin Phase One
without an articling position but those students who do not have articles lined up may find
funding a challenge, as the Bar Admission Course costs upwards of six thousand dollars.

Factors such as employment and the terms thereof often determine at what point in the articling
year students decide to attend the Bar Admission Course. Student loan funding and requirements
that students begin paying their loans back six months after graduation are also factors in the
student’s decision as to when to attend a Bar Admission Course.

In Québec, the provincial Special Needs Program, which funds services and equipment for
students with disabilities, is available to candidates studying for the Barreau. Students with certain
disabilities, including learning disabilities, are not eligible for this funding.

Bar Admission (and other) students should note that some funding agencies and associations can
be approached for vocational rehabilitation funding.

Some law societies may assist in securing financing. The LSUC is committed to providing
financial relief through bank loans, LSUC loans or the BAC bursary program to students at risk of
delay to their call to the Bar because of outstanding BAC fees.

The Canada Student Loans Program provides two forms of assistance for students with a
permanent disability - Canada Study Grants and Loan Forgiveness. Canada Study Grants make up
to $5,000.00 per year available to a student with a permanent disability that limits his/her ability
to participate fully in post secondary studies or in the labour force. This non-repayable grant
covers exceptional costs such as tutors, interpreters, attendants, or special equipment. Eligibility is
determined by financial need and maximum income levels are predetermined based on the
number of one’s dependents.

Loan Forgiveness is available in the event that a student with a permanent disability is unable to
meet Canada Student Loan repayment obligations without exceptional hardship. For a student to
qualify he or she must have a permanent disability before the beginning of the seventh month
following completion of studies or at the time of the first loan advance. Interest payments are
waived on Canada Student Loans while students are attending Bar Admission courses.

Note that officials may also refer to the student loan forgiveness program using the term
“Permanent Disability Benefit”. As of May 2000, we have been told that the student loan package
programs still exist and that applications may be obtained by calling 1-888-432-7377.

14.3.5     Attitudinal and Other Barriers in Bar Admission Programs - As
           Described By Survey Respondents

A few students recounted incidents they saw as demonstrating a lack of understanding that
hampered students with disabilities. The majority of survey respondents felt no specific attitudinal
barriers from administrators of their Bar Admission program, lecturers or fellow students. They
felt they were fully integrated.

In our survey, negative attitudinal barriers encountered by students with learning disabilities were
frequently noted. Students with this form of disability complained of unprofessional conduct by
law society administrators and civil servants. Almost half of the jurisdictions polled were
mentioned in relation to this problem. Where attitudinal barriers were disclosed, the common
theme was ignorance or a lack of understanding regarding challenges for students with learning
disabilities. There also appeared to be a lack of consensus as to suitable accommodations and the
degree of assistance a student is entitled to receive. Responses from students indicate that the
multiplicity of learning disabilities and the wide range of strategies for minimizing their impact
demands a flexible response. Students voiced a need for an approach that focuses on protecting
the dignity of the individual at each level of the Bar Admission process.

Instruction is delivered by practising lawyers who teach part- time in the Bar Admission course,
focusing on their specialized areas of practice. One survey respondent commented that although
instructors are knowledgeable and well qualified, it may be difficult to establish a continuing
rapport with them. The instructors teach for only a few days during the course and usually do not
have enough time available for students with special needs.

One person surveyed opined that some of the lawyers teaching courses should be more sensitive
to the needs of students with disabilities needing alternative formats. Professional responsibilities
outside of the classroom appear to hinder some instructors in fulfilling their duty to accommodate
students adequately.

One Québec Barreau student said that better accommodations were offered through the Barreau
than through the university where that student had obtained a baccalauréat. The university did not
provide adequate accommodation to permit students with a variety of disabilities to participate in
all university activities, especially conferences. A respondent who did not face barriers personally
commented that, “some students who were unaware of my disabilities expressed hostility and
ignorance regarding accommodations received by [other] students”. Incredibly, on another
occasion a student requesting printed materials was told by the Course Director to copy notes
from other students because he (the Director) was not responsible.

In the various provinces, many student respondents spoke favourably about the implementation of
accommodation on a day-to-day basis. Frequent complaints addressed poor communication
regarding the accommodations available, and a lack of supervision for classroom implementation.

Some students experienced attitudinal barriers on the part of fellow students. One person felt the
students are better informed than the general public but barriers still exist. Another, who did not
directly experience attitudinal barriers commented that, “some students do grumble openly about

others who are accommodated. Most students don’t know that I’m accommodated so it doesn’t
become a direct issue for me but likely would be if they did know”.

A final example comes courtesy of a senior official of the judiciary. Apparently, a judge
complained that a disability-reserved parking site should not be so close to the front of Osgoode
Hall in downtown Toronto (the main site for the LSUC Bar Admission Course), so the parking
spots were moved. An observer commented, “It did not seem to make any difference to the
students; the judge was petty”.

14.4       Policies & Decision-Making Procedures Governing Disability

The process of decision-making for accommodations varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Outlined below are summaries of procedures and criteria used in early 2000. Not all jurisdictions
are represented, because of incomplete survey answers and lack of response from some
administrators. Some jurisdictions not discussed here lack experience with accommodation
requests and have not formulated enabling policies.

Applicants to the British Columbia PLTC must apply in writing to the Director of the
Professional Legal Training Course at least 30 days before the commencement of the Course with
documentation and background information, including a description of procedures that will
minimize the disability’s impact. This policy reflects a commitment to ensuring reasonable
accommodation while maintaining the validity of the examination and assessment procedures.
Nowhere in the policy are specifics given as to the types of disabilities covered. Communications
with the BC Law Society have shown their personnel to be quite co-operative and willing to assist
people needing accommodation. The PLTC program manager facilitates accessibility and
accommodation requests as part of her responsibilities.

It appears that the LSUC has recognized concerns and systemic biases that can be and have been
experienced by students who have disabilities. In 1999, the Admissions and Equity Committee
approved a new Accommodation Policy and sensitivity training was introduced for BAC

The LSUC Bar Admission Course policy provides that accommodation will not be extended,
however, if it imposes undue hardship on the program. The registrar determines “hardship” on a
case-by-case basis. Refusal of requests for accommodations may be appealed to the Director of
Education and the Admissions and Equity Committee. The LSUC policy states that
“considerations that may influence this determination include substantial economic hardship for
the LSUC, the unavailability of persons with appropriate expertise, a significant adverse impact
on learning opportunities for other students, a significant alteration of the fundamental nature of
the program for service or undue disruption of the institution’s program operation”. (Section 1.4
of Policy and Procedures for Accommodations for Students-At-Law in the Bar Admission Course
(BAC) – Department of Education, 1999.) The accommodation policy of the LSUC operates
within the overall mandate of the Law Society to ensure that entrants to the profession are
competent to practise law.

For the LSUC to grant accommodation, the connection between the perceived barrier and the
required accommodation must be made clear to the Registrar. The registrar and the student work
together to establish necessary accommodations. The student is expected to provide suitable and
verifiable information pertaining to the personal characteristic(s) requiring accommodation.

The BAC collects and maintains confidential accommodation information through its Student
Success Centre. The mandate of the Student Success Centre is to ensure fair, equal and non-
discriminatory access to all courses. Its duty is to coordinate and provide support to improve the
learning environment for students by offering such services as case management, assessment
services and access to technical aids. Tutoring and mentoring services are also available free of
charge to the student. The Student Success Centre is responsible for coordinating the provision of
accommodation. At all three sites designated staff facilitate accessibility and implement
examination accommodations.

The law societies of Alberta and Saskatchewan do not have written policy on accommodations.
These jurisdictions appear willing, however, to provide accommodations when required on an ad
hoc basis. Manitoba has a written policy on accommodations for the Bar Admission course. The
most important criterion for determining whether or not to grant accommodation is the
maintenance of legitimacy and consistency in examinations and skills assessment. Applicants
must include a detailed description of the proposed accommodation along with appropriate
documentation assessing the applicant’s situation. Further concerns of the Law Society of
Manitoba include: the potential impact on other students’ participation and evaluation, cost
implications, and whether the means proposed for accommodating the request are the most
suitable. The Director of the Bar Admission program handles all requests for accommodations.

The Barreau du Québec does not have written policies on accommodation for students with
disability and applies a case by case approach. A student who wishes to receive specific
accommodation in relation to his or her disability addresses a request to the Director of the centre
to which he or she is applying. It is the responsibility of the Director to take necessary measures
to ensure that the student will be given the same chances and opportunities as all other students.

The Barreau’s program receives expertise from a specialized service to answer individual requests
from students. The centres, at Ottawa and Sherbrooke, though located in universities, are totally
independent from the university administration. Decisions on accommodations are made by the
Director of each centre. However, if the centre in which you are interested is located at a
university in Québec, the relevant chapter of this guide will mention access to buildings and
classrooms and other accommodations available through that university. We did not receive many
answers to our survey from Barreau students; those who responded were satisfied with the way
their requests where handled by the centre to which they applied. Responses were also favourable
concerning the availability of the staff in charge. All requests were granted directly by the centre
to which the student was assigned or through another service provider. (One student received sign
language translation services through the assistance of McGill University’s Office for Students
with Disabilities). This may not be indicative of the situation for all Québec Bar students, since
the responses received were all from Montréal-based Barreau course candidates or graduates.

The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society has not yet developed an explicit policy on responding to
disability accommodation needs of Bar students. If an articled clerk feels that because of physical
or mental disability, he or she cannot demonstrate his or her level of skill and knowledge through
the evaluation methods used by the Bar Admission Course, application for special
accommodation must be made to the Director of the Bar Admission Course. In these
circumstances, the Director may use an alternate method of assessment meeting the needs of the
clerk while maintaining the standard required for admission to the Bar. It is the hope of the Nova
Scotia Barristers’ Society that an explicit policy will be developed over time. There is no
designated staff member to work with the student in fulfilling accommodations and alternate
methods of evaluation.

The Law Society of Newfoundland does not have an explicit policy responding to disability
accommodation needs of Bar Admission Course Students. There has been only one request for
accommodation in this jurisdiction in recent memory. As occurred in that case, officials say that a
request would be considered in terms of the student’s unique circumstances and addressed in
terms of those circumstances. Rule 6.13 of the Law Society Rules does allow a student who fails
an exam due to illness or other personal circumstances which harmed performance, to request a
supplementary exam on those grounds. The request must be made before marks are published.
While this is not an accommodation policy, it does allow students an opportunity to advise the
Law Society if they feel their performance was hampered by, for example, a disability. Students
have not made requests pursuant to this rule recently. Students requiring facilitation in programs
and coordination for exam accommodations must write to the Director of Legal Education, who is
responsible for all aspects of the Bar Admission Program.

14.5       Accommodations Offered and Experienced

Few of the jurisdictions with written policies supply more than minimal details as to the specific
forms of accommodations available. British Columbia and Manitoba have a general policy to
accommodate that requires students to propose the accommodations to facilitate their needs. The
Law Society of Upper Canada provides detailed examples of accommodations that may be
granted. Although LSUC policy provides concrete examples of permitted accommodations, a
large number of respondents disclosed that they were unaware of the specific contents of this

Accommodations vary among the jurisdictions because of differences in their experience with
various disabilities. Outlined below is an inventory of accommodations that have been given to
students. This list is not exhaustive and Bar Admission administrators should be contacted in
order to determine whether or not individual needs may be satisfied.

14.5.1     Course Attendance

General guidelines are set for the attendance of all students within programs that have written
policies. In our research we did not discover attendance guidelines specifically targeted towards
students with disabilities. Rather, where present, absentee policies for all students allowed for
consideration of personal illness and family related emergencies. As a result of a 1997 equity
report, the LSUC changed its attendance policy as of 1998, eliminating the requirement of
mandatory attendance.

14.5.2     Instruction

For the majority of jurisdictions, examples of instructional accommodations were not provided in
response to our questionnaire. The absence of data should not necessarily be construed as
evidence of unwillingness to provide accommodations: rather, it may be that particular requests
have not been made to date. For example, the Law Society of Upper Canada has confirmed that
sign language interpreters have been provided during instructional lectures as well as in Call to
the Bar ceremonies, while other jurisdictions are silent on this issue.

A student with a learning disability recalled that an instructor placed him in an awkward position
by demanding responses to questions in class even though the student did not have adequate time
to process the information. Although the problem was then explained to the instructor outside of
class, the instructor was not prepared to make adjustments to the teaching style to accommodate
the student. This student commented that instructors “really don’t understand the nature of
processing problems”.

Just as there appears to be a need for greater communication between the administration and
students regarding accommodations available, instructors must be better informed and able to
respond to individual needs or requirements. Unfortunately, we could not have the benefit of
obtaining feedback from instructors, so our survey results may be somewhat biased in favour of
students who have experienced problems.

In a few of the jurisdictions, extensions of deadlines have been given for assignments as an
accommodation, where necessary. Several jurisdictions have given accommodations for situations
involving illness and family emergencies; and at least one of these suggested they would be
prepared to make the same allowances for an individual with a disability, when appropriate. The
LSUC is the only administering body that states it will extend deadlines on assignments. Several
students that responded from Ontario acknowledged that flexibility in meeting deadlines was
very important to them.

A law graduate from Québec who answered our survey confirmed that Bar Admission course
instruction and materials were available in alternate formats for students who needed these
accommodations. She needed help with only the oral part of the instruction and was able to use
services provided by a sign language interpreter and a note-taker. She was the first deaf student at
the relevant Barreau Course centre which did not have the services available that she required.
Instead, the student obtained services through the help of the Office for Students with Disabilities
of McGill University, which cooperated with her and the relevant Centre in this regard. She
explained that even with this assistance, she experienced some difficulties. Since there are Bar
courses every day, full transcription of each course session was almost impossible.

In the provinces where specifics are given, policy for accommodations concentrate on standards
for evaluating students and the provision of accessibility aids, with little or no direct consideration
of what occurs in the classroom. The most common complaint by students was the inability or
unwillingness of individual instructors to adjust their teaching style to meet the needs of students
with learning disabilities.

14.5.3     Educational Materials

For many of the programs, reading materials to supplement classroom instruction are usually
distributed in advance. But arrangements for materials in alternate formats must be made at the
request of the student as far in advance as possible, to ensure that they are available on time.

In both British Columbia and Nova Scotia, Bar Admission program material will be provided in
alternative formats when requested. Examples of the types of formats provided are: materials on
disk or created in a larger font, and transcription into Braille. Manitoba expects to have materials
in alternate formats available later in 2000. Both Saskatchewan and Newfoundland had not had
such a request to date. Material for the LSUC program is available in alternate formats which
include: materials on disk, the use of adaptive technology such as voice input and output, and
scanning devices. According to the Barreau administration, course instructions and materials are
available in alternative formats for students with hearing and visual disabilities, sometimes
including provision of Braille or of sign language interpretation.

Students that required course material in alternative formats were unanimously critical of staff
and administrators for not providing materials in a timely fashion. Respondents stressed the need
to receive the materials at the beginning of or prior to the commencement of the course.

14.5.4     Examinations

For examinations the Law Societies have offered varying accommodations, depending on the
individual needs of students who have passed through their programs. BC has allowed extended
time, use of a computer, use of a separate room and examinations in alternate formats.
Saskatchewan has provided use of a separate examination room. Nova Scotia has allowed
extended time, transcription into alternate formats, and assistance inputting answers into a
computer. The Law Society of Upper Canada has permitted extra time, use of a computer,
scribing services, and alternate formats for exams, including oral exams. Newfoundland has
provided a staff member to scribe answers on one occasion. Respondents who answered our
survey concerning bar admission courses in Québec mentioned that they had received the
following types of accommodations for examinations: time extensions, permission to write the
exam on a computer and authorization to use the assistance of a scribe. In one year, the New
Brunswick Bar Admission program agreed to provide accommodations to a student for the
writing of exams. Officials offered the student extra time on all exams and the choice of doing
them orally or written. The candidate had a non-visible disability requiring the accommodations.

14.6       The End of the Course and Beyond

14.6.1     Student Evaluation of Bar Admission Courses

All of the Bar Admission courses arrange for student evaluations of course content and
instruction. In BC and Nova Scotia student evaluation forms will be provided in alternative
formats on demand. In Ontario, The Law Society of Upper Canada makes the forms for
instructor evaluation available on disk when requested by students. The administrators from
Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick responded that student evaluation forms are not
provided in alternative formats. Evaluation forms are not available in alternative formats in
Québec, but students may obtain assistance from a resource person in filling out standard forms.
Newfoundland has not yet been requested to provide evaluations in alternative formats.

14.6.2     Adaptation for the Call to the Bar Ceremony

All of the Law Societies polled, with the exception of New Brunswick, use facilities for the Call
ceremony that offer wheelchair access. On some of the other accommodation issues many
jurisdictions were silent. This is probably due to a lack of exposure to a particular disability; not
an attempt to deny inclusion. In British Columbia, the Law Society has provided interpreters and
real-time captioning for other society functions. They have indicated that individuals would be
accommodated as needed for the Call ceremony. The LSUC has indicated that mobility issues can
be accommodated, and interpretation services and sign language are available. A student from
Québec who answered our survey asked to be given accommodation for the Call to the Bar
ceremony. All of her requests were granted. Two sign language interpreters where present, one
for her and another for her guests.

14.6.3     Career and Placement Services

None of the Law Societies responded that there were special services to provide assistance to
graduates with disabilities in obtaining articles. Many of the Societies will provide leads, or
informal referrals. Career Placement Officers may provide some assistance and Equity Officers
could be a valuable resource to those with disabilities seeking articles. Job postings on Internet
sites are available in some jurisdictions for those with the ability to access them.

The Equity Initiatives Department of the LSUC has introduced a short-term employment program
within the department. Recent graduates of the Bar Admissions Course may be offered the
position of legal researchers for terms of four to six months. The rationale behind this program is
the employment of lawyers from under-represented groups, or those seen as being discriminated
against within the legal profession.

14.7       Suggestions for the Future

Those who prepared this chapter have more suggestions than solutions to offer. In general, the
Law Societies have begun some movement towards providing better access. Some of the greatest
challenges to overcome pertain to the sharing of information between administrators and students.
The availability of accommodations must be broadcast more widely and students should be
encouraged (as some jurisdictions do) to disclose their disabilities and accommodation needs
more readily. All students should be polled on attitudes and ideas so that those still outside of the
accommodation process become aware of it and can help to shape it. With this guidebook, we are
trying to catalyze the process of communication. Here are some suggestions from the students

Students often faced challenges because they were uninformed.

One respondent suggested: “The law society should inform students that accommodation is
available for those who require it. I had to find out for myself that accommodation was available.
If I hadn’t had the presence of mind to make inquiries about whether my temporary disability
could be accommodated, I wouldn’t have found out about the program and available
accommodations. As a result, I would have been at a disadvantage. To prevent students who
acquire temporary disabilities from failing to request accommodations, the law society should
circulate a general memorandum to all students at the beginning of each phase to inform them of
the existence of the program should they need it.”

Although several other students echoed the sentiment that students should be better informed as to
the available accommodations, only one student suggested any concrete measures. This student
advised as follows: “Bulletin boards, etc., should be larger and better lit and alternate formats
should be advertised”.

A strong admonition was given by one student, regarding a lack of preparation and forethought on
the part of legal professionals acting as instructors. This student wrote: “There needs to be much
more awareness of [the] nature of disability with respect to accommodations. [The] Primary
problem is that lawyers are always running by [the] seat of their pants putting out fires and seem
to feel that this is an acceptable excuse for not meeting their obligations under human rights

An observer in Québec commented that while formal policies may not be in place, or a centre
may not have the requisite equipment, it does not mean that the centre will be unable to provide
for special needs. This guidebook’s editor and co-authors observe that there is a legal requirement
to provide reasonable accommodation to foster equity and that most legal education officials
genuinely want to offer the necessary accommodations. Most will usually find a way to do so.
Here are some examples. In Ontario, the Bar Admission program borrows accommodation
expertise from community colleges. In Nova Scotia, Dalhousie Law School initially relied partly
on expertise available at nearby St. Mary’s University concerning disability accommodations. In
Montréal, a Barreau Student was able to obtain needed assistance with the guidance of an office
at McGill University when the Barreau centre could not assist directly.

One respondent felt that the development of a mentoring program for people with similar
disabilities was important. That writer queried: “Is there any way (for those of us who wish to
be...) for us to get in touch with other members of our class facing similar challenges?”

An individual who had difficulty with the volume of materials stated that, “the exam style has to
change. The reference material needs to be edited to prevent repetition.”

In response to a question on part-time study, an Ontario student replied: “Yes, most definitely it
should be made available and encouraged. Visually impaired students, especially, encounter
primary difficulty getting the reading done in the time required and not burning out over the many
exams. Materials on disk and software to read it aloud was of excellent assistance to me.

However, I had to seek the funding to afford the program. This took time I did not have after the
course began and there was no guarantee that I would receive funding. The BAC must address
these issues months in advance of the …beginning so that it is all set up and running before the
classes begin.”

Comments were made concerning the intensity of the courses.

One emphatic response concerning the intensity of the Bar Admission course in Ontario came
from a student who wrote: “The speed of this program is inhuman!!”

A student commented that she would like to see French legal sign language developed because
she had to invent many signs during her study to translate courses. She also mentioned that full
transcription of courses should be developed, since “C-note” and manual notetaking are not
efficient enough in law studies.

On the part of the administrators there appears to be a genuine willingness to accommodate and
make the programs accessible. Even the Law Societies contacted that had little or no experience
accommodating students who have disabilities gave the impression that they would approach any
problem or request with an open mind and a willingness to resolve the issue as equitably as
possible. Policies ought to be adopted, however, to ensure that minimal standards are established
and that students with a disability receive the accommodations they require. Naturally, care must
be taken to ensure that a formal policy does not result in rigid rules that do not take the special
characteristics of the individual into consideration. Further, students must be better informed of
accommodations and attempts must be made to remove any stigma associated with receiving this

Several of the Law Societies contacted are working diligently to raise the level of awareness and
improve services to students with disabilities. The Law Society of Upper Canada leads the way
with its Student Success Centre, which provides many of the same services as Disability Resource
Centres in universities. Through the Centre the LSUC is able to centralize and co- ordinate efforts
among satellite centres for ongoing legal training. The LSUC’s “Bicentennial Report and
Recommendations on Equity Issues in the Legal Profession” recommended measures to put its
commitment to equity into everyday practice. The BAC and LSUC acknowledged that treating
people identically is not synonymous with treating them equally. They recognized that granting
accommodations on an ad hoc basis has proven to be unreliable, inconsistent and inequitable. The
BAC appears to have accomplished its goal of dealing with both system-wide accommodation
and individualized, short-term or experimental accommodation.

In British Columbia, the Law Society is currently (1999-2000) conducting research on equity
issues within the legal profession. Several focus groups have been conducted in preparation for a
detailed report being released in mid-2000. Alberta’s Law Society has stated that it plans to
conduct its own research on equity issues in the near future.

Another Bar Admission Student’s Experience:

             Accommodation goes only so far to assist individuals who
             have disabilities. One student offered this food for thought: “I
             had to rely on friends and family to assist me throughout the
             Bar Ads given [the] very large volume of materials. I have
             trouble processing this volume in such a short time; many
             courses are only six days - barely time to read it all, let alone
             prepare for an exam. I would not have survived without the
             support of partner and friends”.

Chapter 15.0

15 Concluding Thoughts: Trends Observed and
   Accommodation Needs Still Unmet

       15.1 Unresolved issues – A Few Concluding Observations

Canadian law schools have come a long way in advancing their awareness of disability rights and
accommodation needs. Institutionalized policies are in force at all Canadian law faculties. Most
are flexible in their approach to meeting reasonable requests for accommodation and are
genuinely committed to diversity. That said, respondents to our surveys and focus group questions
stated clearly that they see scope for improvement. While students and lawyers with disabilities
are increasingly making their presence felt on campuses and in courtrooms, the continuing reality
is that they are often not afforded equal access in educational or professional spheres.

A recurring theme arising in the survey results and focus group discussions was the need for
students to take control of the process and self-advocate tirelessly for their rights and required
accommodations. Participants frequently cited a need for individuals to be assertive and not to
assume that their needs will be either understood or met. Nonetheless, most (but not all) survey
respondents would recommend law school as a choice for other students who have disabilities. A
few respondents, obviously disillusioned by their experiences, would recommend law school
reluctantly, while two said they would recommend against attending law school.

All survey respondents experienced frustration and barriers in at least one aspect of their legal
education. The usual stresses inherent to law school are exaggerated for students who, in addition
to satisfying the requirements of the curriculum, may spend considerable time and effort locating
and fighting for assistance. This prospect is unlikely to deter candidates from pursuing a legal
education, however, since most students with disabilities have already surmounted considerable
odds during undergraduate studies.

Admissions equity programs have met with some success in increasing the representivity of first
year law classes with regard to students with disabilities. The value of these programs is diluted,
however, if students are not given the accommodation tools to succeed while at law school and
during the bar admissions process. While bar admissions programs and the legal profession have
experienced an increase in representation of people with disabilities, there remain barriers to
equal employment opportunities for law graduates with disabilities.

We hope that you found this guidebook useful and that it assists you in making choices and
securing accommodations that are right for you. The leading authorities for the insights we have
reported have been law students and lawyers across Canada, as well as individuals who work
daily to implement accommodations in law schools and universities and in training courses for
lawyers and notaries. This closing chapter concludes by presenting additional observations drawn

directly from our project research, thus giving lawyers and law students the last word on trends
and unresolved issues.

15.2       Closing Thoughts from Law Students and Lawyers Who Have

The following recollections and recommendations were gathered from surveys, interviews and
focus group discussions across Canada in 1999-2000.

15.2.1      Negative Experiences and Insights

“The application process for law school can be a real ordeal. You must write a gazillion letters.
Voice-recognition technology is not always friendly, and may be quite incompatible for filling in
forms. The admissions process for the discretionary category required me to explain the same
things in different ways to many different people. Applying on-line is much easier. The applicant
can cut and paste information into the application.”

“Why can't they simply do a telephone interview?”

“Students with disabilities are often left to their own devices, to work on barriers one step at a
time. There is no one-stop shopping. The process of trying to get the various accommodations can
break the student down. I have two full-time jobs. One of them is managing my disability.”

“Because of the amount of time I have to take in preparing for classes, law school becomes a

“Some schools do not value the opinion of the individual student enough with respect to the
accommodations needed by him/her.”

15.2.2     Positive Recollections and Recommendations

One student suggested that law schools should get together to share costs of ensuring that course
materials are accessible. “There is no reason other than competition why some standard core
courses and materials could not be prepared that were fully accessible on the Internet or on

“It would be good if the results of this Reach Project were made available to all students on the
first day of compulsory classes.”

“My disability changed over time, so the kind of accommodations that I needed also changed.”

“What is very important is that the law school take the attitude that if new issues arise regarding
accommodations, we’ll listen and we’ll try to accommodate.”

With respect to reasonable accommodations, this was the considered opinion of one law
graduate on the correct approach for law schools to take:

                “It is wise for the law school to tell the students that although
               they have general guidelines, they cannot anticipate every
               problem that the individual might encounter. A message
               should be announced loud and clear that each student with a
               disability can be assured that the law school will try to
               accommodate for the specific needs that are encountered.”


Introductory Note: In 1999, Reach published a detailed Bibliography, in A Framework for
Action at pages 80-87. It would be redundant to reproduce a list of titles from that compilation,
particularly as A Framework for Action will now be available through the website of Reach at: We have repeated the listing of one printed publication from the 1999
Bibliography, because of its obvious direct relevance to the work carried out in preparation of the
current Guide. With that one exception, what follows is a brief list of relevant printed publications
that came to the attention of Reach Canada since the release of A Framework for Action.

Printed Resources
Canadian Abilities Foundation, Directory of Disability Organizations in Canada (2000)

Estey, Steven and Alphonse, Laurie. National Directory of Financial Assistance Programs for
Post-Secondary Students with Disabilities (Ottawa: National Educational Association of
Disabled Students, March 2000)

Estey, Steven. Organizations of Students with Disabilities Guidebook: Leadership in Our
Community (Ottawa: National Educational Association of Disabled Students, 1999)

Fichten, Catherine, Baril, Maria and Asuncion, Jennison. Learning Technologies: Students with
Disabilities in Postsecondary Education-Final Report to the Office of Learning Technology
(Montréal: Adaptech Project, Dawson College, 1999)

Goundry, Sandra A. and Peters, Yvonne. A Framework for Action (Ottawa: Reach Canada,

The Lawyers Weekly, September 4, 1998, Vol. 18, No. 16:
      MacInnes, Norman. “Computer revolution key for blind lawyers”

       MacInnes, Norman. “Windows poses problems for blind”

       Moulton, Donalee. “A high-tech assist - Deaf and blind lawyers find new technology helps
       them practise law more effectively”

Learning Disabilities Association. Learning Disabilities in the Classroom – A Handbook for
Instructors (Ottawa, 1999)

Lepofsky, David. “Disabled Persons in Canadian Law Schools” (1991) 36 McGill Law Review
at 636.

LSAT Registration and Information Book, Canadian Edition, 1999-2000 and 2000-2001
(available from the Law School Admission Council - contact data in Chapter 4 of this guide).

NEADS, Working Towards a Coordinated National Approach To Services,
Accommodations And Policies For Post-Secondary Students With Disabilities: Ensuring
Access to Higher Education and Career Training 1999

Wheeler, Sue. Transition from School to Work-Career Choices for Youth With Disabilities:
Resource Package (Ottawa: National Educational Association of Disabled Students, 1997)

Internet Resources
This section lists Web addresses that may be useful to current and prospective law students in
researching their options. Many of these resources will also be valuable for legal education
instructors and administrators and for disability service providers. Relevant Web and e-mail
addresses for law schools and the offices of disability service providers are listed in the


The Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
The content of this site is primarily American, although a lot of it is universally applicable and
affects Canadian students. While there is extensive information on US government funding
options, there is no mention of funding arrangements for Canadian students. Although students
should not rely on this site for general information about law schools, it is a good reference point
for information about the LSAT process itself.

Funding and Finances
Canada Student Assistance Program:
(Click on “income supports” box and then “Canada Student Loans Program”)

Provincial Student Assistance Programs:
British Columbia:
New Brunswick:
Northwest Territories:
Nova Scotia:
Prince Edward Island:
Yukon Territory:

Grants and Scholarships
Human Resources Development Canada:
Useful links to scholarship sources.

Scholarships Canada:
Good reference tool for scholarship opportunities across Canada.

Scholarships for residents of Newfoundland and Labrador: http://www.cs.mun/~sline.ques2

Note: Refer to the Internet sites for each particular university and/or law school for primary
information about scholarship opportunities at that institution. The NEADS National Directory of
Financial Assistance Programs, mentioned above as a Printed Resource, is also available online at

Adaptive Technology
By exploring a selection of the following resources, a student will gain access to a comprehensive
bank of information on adaptive technologies and services. Many individual firms that sell
adaptive technology products have their own websites, which are sometimes referred to in the
resources listed below.

Carleton University, Paul Menton Centre:

Dawson College:

Queen’s University Special Readers’ Programme:

McMaster University Office for Ability and Access:

University of British Columbia:
[See also the Crane Resource Centre, University of British Columbia Library

University of Toronto, Adaptive Technology Resource Centre:

University of Waterloo:

Student Organizations
National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS):

Canadian Alliance of Student Associations:
Links to financial planning information, scholarships, tuition fees database, educational financing
tools, and related topics. Very useful integrated site.
Excellent links to national and provincial student organizations. Useful general info and links for law students (not
specifically geared toward students with disabilities)

Search Engines
Bell Sympatico:
A search tool that yields Canadian and international information on disability and educational
issues, services and organizations.


Appendix A: Law School and University Contact Information
for Accommodation at Common Law Faculties in Canada

General Law School Contact Information
University of Alberta, Faculty of Law
Room 484B, Admissions Office
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2H8
Phone: (403) 492-3067
Fax: (403) 492-4924

University of British Columbia, Faculty of Law
1822 East Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z1
Phone: General Matters: (604) 822-3151
Phone: Admissions: (604) 822-6303
Fax: Admissions: (604) 822-8108

University of Calgary, Faculty of Law
Murray Fraser Hall
University of Calgary
Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4
Phone: (403) 220-7222

Dalhousie Law School
Dalhousie University
6061 University Avenue
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4H9
Phone: (902) 494-2068
Fax: (902) 494-1316

University of Manitoba, Faculty of Law
Robson Hall
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N2
Phone: General Inquiries: (204) 474-6130
Phone: Admissions Office: (204) 474-8815
Fax: General Inquiries: (204) 474-7580
Fax: Admissions Office: (204) 474-7554

McGill University, Faculty of Law (also teaches Civil Law)
3674 Peel
Montréal, Quebec H3A 1W9
Phone: (514) 398-6602
Fax: (514) 398-3233

University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, Common Law Section
Fauteux Hall, 57 Louis Pasteur
P.O. Box 450, Station A
Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5
Phone: (613) 562-5794
Fax: (613) 562-5124

University of Ottawa Common Law Section
Rosanna Carreon, Director
Student Services
Equity and Placement
Common Law Section
University of Ottawa Faculty of Law
57 Louis Pasteur
P.O. Box 450, Station A
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5
Phone: (613) 562-5800
Fax: (613) 562-5124

Queen’s University, Faculty of Law
Registrar of Law
Macdonald Hall
Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6
Phone: (613) 533-2220
Fax: (613) 533-6611

University of Saskatchewan, College of Law
Admissions Committee
15 Campus Drive
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5A6
Phone: (306) 966-5045
Fax: (306) 966-5900

University of Toronto, Faculty of Law
78 Queen’s Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Phone: (416) 978-3716
Fax: (416) 978-7899

University of Victoria, Faculty of Law
P.O. Box 2400
Victoria, British Columbia V8W 3H7
Phone: (250) 721-8151
Fax: (250) 721-6390

University of Western Ontario, Faculty of Law
London, Ontario N6A 3K7
Phone: (519) 661-3347

University of Windsor, Faculty of Law
401 Sunset Avenue
Windsor, Ontario N9B 3P4
Phone: (519) 253-4232, ext. 2927

York University, Osgoode Hall Law School
4700 Keele Street
North York, Ontario M3J 1P3
Phone: (416) 736-5712

Disability Accommodation Contacts At Faculties of Common
Among other roles, Deans and Associate Deans are generally involved in administrative and
academic issues concerning students who have disabilities (e.g., approval of exam
accommodations, and meeting with students to discuss other accommodation needs) and
therefore would be valuable contacts at most law faculties.

University of Alberta:
Admissions:        Kim Wilson:
Disability Liaison:J.M. Ross, Associate Dean:
                   R.J. Wood, Associate Dean:

University of British Columbia:
Disability Liaison:Joost Blom, Dean:

University of Calgary:
Admissions:        Karen Argento, Student Services Office:
Disability Liaison:Michael Wylie, Dean:

Dalhousie University:
Admissions:        Rose Godfrey, Admissions Officer:
Disability Liaison:John Yogis, Associate Dean:

University of New Brunswick:
Admissions:        Robin Dickson or Wanda Foster:
Disability Liaison:David A. Townsend, Associate Dean:

University of Manitoba:

McGill University:
Or: Victoria Meikle, Admissions, Placement and Alumni Relations
Faculty Administration Officer:
Disability Liaison:Christine Gervais, Student Affairs Officer:

University of Ottawa, Common Law:
Disability Liaison:Rosanna Carreon, Director, Student Services, Equity and Placement:

Queen’s University:
Disability Liaison:Rosemary O-A King,
Education Equity Program Director:
Don Stuart, Associate Dean:

University of Saskatchewan:
Admissions:        Alice Der, Admissions Officer:
Disability Liaison:Beth Bilson, Dean:

University of Toronto:
Admissions:        Judy Finlay, Admissions Officer:
Bonnie Croll, Associate Dean and Director of Admissions:
Disability Liaison:Mayo Moran, Associate Dean:

University of Victoria:
Or: Janet Person, Admissions Officer:
Disability Liaison:D. Needley, Associate Dean:

University of Western Ontario:
Disability Liaison:Beryl Theobald, Academic Services Officer:
Or: Berend Hovius, Associate Dean:

University of Windsor:
Disability Liaison:

York University (Osgoode Hall Law School):
Disability Liaison:        Ramneek Pooni, Access, Admissions and Academic Support:

University Special Needs Offices / Disability Services Offices

University of British Columbia
Disability Resource Centre
1874 East Mall
Phone: (604)822-5844
Fax: (604) 822-6655
TTY: (604) 822-9049

University of Calgary
Disability Resource Centre
MacEwan Student Centre 274
Calgary, Alberta
Phone: (403) 220-8237
Fax: (403) 210-1063
TTY: (403) 220-2823

Dalhousie University
Phone: (902) 494-2836
TTY: (902) 494-7091

University of Manitoba
Disability Services
155 University Centre
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N2
Phone: (204) 474-6213
Fax: (204) 261-7732
TTY: (204) 474-9790

McGill University
Office for Students with
Burnside Hall, Room 107
805 Sherbrooke Street West
Montréal, Quebec H3A 2K6
Phone: (514) 398-6009
Fax: (514) 398-3984
TTY: (514) 398-8198

University of New Brunswick
Student Services
Oland Hall, Room 18
University of New Brunswick
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Phone: (506) 648-5501

University of Ottawa
Centre for Special Services
85 University, Room 339
P.O. Box 450, Station A
Ottawa ON K1N 6N5
Phone: (613) 562-5976
Fax: (613) 562-5159
TTY: (613) 562-5214

Queen’s University
Disability Services Office
Phone: (613) 533-6467
TTY: (613) 533-6566

University of Saskatchewan
Service for Students with Disabilities
Room 60, Place Riel Campus Centre
1 Campus Drive
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5A3
Phone: (306) 966-7273
Fax: (306) 966-5081

University of Victoria
Resource Centre for Students with Disabilities
Campus Services Building
Phone: (250) 472-4104
Email: equity

University of Western Ontario
Student Development Centre
(Students with Disabilities)
University Community Centre
London, Ontario N6A 3K7
Phone: (519) 661-2147
Fax: (519) 661-3949
TDD: (519) 661-4011

University of Windsor
Special Needs Office
137 Dillon Hall
Phone; (519) 253-4232

York University
Office for Persons with Disabilities
109 Central Square
York Campus
Phone: (416) 736-5140
TTY: (416) 736-5263

Learning Disabilities Program
Counselling and Career Development Centre
112 Behavioural Sciences Building
York Campus
Phone: (416) 736-5297

Psychiatric Disabilities Programme
Counselling and Career Development Centre
145 Behavioural Sciences Building
York Campus
Phone: (416) 736-5297

Note: Applicants for law schools in Ontario need to contact a central agency, the Ontario Law
School Application Service, located in Guelph. With one application package, students apply for
admission to one or more law schools through the shared entity. In a Personal Statement
accompanying the main application form, the applicant may indicate why a disability may compel
the student to attend law school in a particular city. For more information, telephone (519) 823-
1940 or visit the website at: For French language services, contact
“le Service ontarien de demade d’admission en droit”, at

Appendix B: Directory for Civil Law Schools and

MCGILL UNIVERSITY (also teaches Common Law)
Office for Students with Disabilities / Bureau des étudiants handicapés
Burnside Hall, Room 107
805 Sherbrooke St. W.
Montréal, QC, H3A 2K6
Tel: (514) 398-6009
TDD: (514) 398-8198
Fax: (514) 398-3984

Law School/Faculté de droit
The Associate Dean, Academic
3644 Peel St.,
Montréal, QC, Canada H3A 1W9
Tel: (514) 398-6666
Fax: (514) 398-4659


Disabled Students Services Office / Bureau des services pour les étudiants handicapés
Pavillon J.A. DeSève
2332, boul. Édouard-Montpetit, Bureau C-351
P.O. Box 6128, succ. du Centre Ville
Montréal, QC, H3C 3J7
Tel: (514) 343-7928
Fax : (514) 343-2058
Website: http://www.ciph.uMontré

Faculté de droit
Pavillon Maximilien-Caron
3101, Ch. de la Tour
C.P. 6128, succ. Centre-Ville
Montréal, QC, H3C 3J7
Tel: (514) 343-6124
Fax: (514) 343-2199
E-mail: infodroit@droit.uMontré
Website: http://www.droit.uMontré


Section de l’Intégration des personnes handicapées
Pavillon Hubert-Aquin Local A-M820
Université du Québec à Montréal
Casier postal 8888, Succursale Centre-Ville
Montréal, QC, H3C 3P8
Tel: (514) 987-3148
ATS: (514) 987-0342
Fax: (514) 987-4197

Faculté de science politique et de droit
Université du Québec à Montréal
Case Postale 8888
Succursale Centre-Ville
Montréal, QC, H3C 3P8
Tel: (514) 987-3000


Service d’animation et d’aide financière
Centre de services à la vie étudiante
local 116
Université de Sherbrooke
2500, boulevard de l’Université
Sherbrooke, QC, J1K 2R1
Tel.: (819) 821-7662
ATM: (819) 821-7618

Law School/Faculté de droit
Law Faculty Secretary
Université de Sherbrooke
Sherbrooke, QC, G1K 2R1

Accueil et intégration des personnes handicapées étudiantes
Pavillon Maurice-Pollack
local 2121
Université Laval,
Québec City, QC, G1K 7P4
Tel: (418) 656-2131 poste 6021
ATS: (418) 656-2345
Fax: (418) 656-7866

Faculté de droit
Pavillon Charles-De Koninck, bureau 2451
Université Laval
Sainte-Foy, QC, G1K 7P4
Tel: (418) 656-3036
Fax: (418) 656-7230

Civil Law Faculties Outside Quebec/ Ecoles de Droit Civil hors


Centre des services spéciaux / Centre for Special Services
Université d’Ottawa
85, rue Université, pièce 339
C.P. 450, succ. A,
Ottawa, ON, K1N 6N5
Tel: (613) 562-5976
ATS: (613) 562-5214
Fax: (613) 562-5159

Faculté de droit civil / Faculty of Civil Law
Administratice scolaire / Academic Administrator
57, rue Louis Pasteur,
P.O. Box 450, Stn. A,
Ottawa, ON, K1N 6N5
Tel: (613) 562-5800 poste 3218
Fax: (613) 562-5124

UNIVERSITÉ DE MONCTON (also teaches Common Law)

Students Services/Centre des services spéciaux
Service aux etudiantes et etudiants avec des besoins particulier /
Coordinator for services to students with special needs
Centre étudiant
Université de Moncton
Local C-101
Moncton, NB, E1A 3E9
Tel: (506) 858-3719 / (506) 858-4007
Fax: (506) 858-4492

Law school/Faculté de droit
Doyen /Dean
Université de Moncton
Moncton, NB, E1A 3E9
Tel: (506) 858-4560
Fax: (506) 858-4534

Appendix C: Contacts for Disability Accommodation in Bar
Admission and Notary Programs

Common Law Jurisdictions
British Columbia
CLE Ron Friesen, Director of Education
Possibly Nadia Myerthall but I’m not sure who took over for Bill Duncan
Phone: 1-800-663-0437

Law Society of BC
Kuan Foo can be contacted at
Phone: (604) 443-5727

Joan Copp, Legal Education Society of Alberta
Phone: 1-780-420-1987
Fax: 1-780-425-0885
Mailing Address:     2610 Canada Trust Tower
                     10104 – 103 Avenue
                     Edmonton, Alberta
                     T5J 0H8

Abena Buahene, Executive Director, Saskatchewan Legal Education Society
Phone: 1-306-653-7580
Mailing Address:    Suite 500
                    333-25th St. E.
                    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
                    S7K 0L4

Ken Koshgarian, Bar Admission Course Director
Phone: 1-306-242-5674
Mailing Address:    Box 431
                    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
                    S7K 3L6

Sheila Redel, Law Society of Manitoba
Admissions and Education
General Email:
Phone: 1-204-942-5571
Fax: 1-204-956-0624
Mailing Address:     219 Kennedy St.
                     Winnipeg, Manitoba
                     R3C 1S8

Northwest Territories
Becky McCaffrey, Executive Director, Law Society of the Northwest Territories
Program Administered through Alberta

Ontario/Law Society of Upper Canada

Mary Floro-White, Student Success Center
Education Department
Phone: 1-416-947-7613
Mailing Address:     Osgoode Hall 1st Floor
                     130 Queen St. W.
                     Toronto, Ontario
                     M5H 2N6

Dagmar Janssen, Law Society of Upper Canada Legal Education Center
Phone: 1-613-233-5398 ext.23
Mailing Address:    44 Eccles St
                    Ottawa, Ontario
                    K1R 6S3

Kate Virtue, Law Society of Upper Canada
Phone: 1-519-433-6686
Fax: 1-519-433-9963
Mailing Address:     Talbot Center, 14th Floor
                     148 Fullarton Street
                     London, Ontario
                     N6A 5P3

New Brunswick
Shirley Maclean, New Brunswick Law Society Admissions and Administration
Phone: 1-506-458-8540

Nova Scotia
Jacqueline Mullenger, Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society
Bar Admission Course
Phone: 1-902-429-1866
Fax: 1-902-429-4869
Mailing Address:      Centennial Building
                      1105-1660 Hollis Street
                      Halifax, NS
                      B3J 1V7
Beverly Mills Stetson, PEI Law Society
Phone: 1-902-566-1666

Frank O’Brien
Fax: 1-709-722-8902

Directory for the Québec Bar
Maison du barreau
Director Ecole du Barreau du Québec
445, boul. St Laurent, Bureau 215
Montréal, QC, H2Y 3T8
Tel: (514) 954-3459

Ecole du Barreau - Ottawa
Université d’Ottawa - Section de droit civil
57, rue Louis Pasteur, Bureau 414
Ottawa, ON, K1N 6N5
Tel: (613) 562-5811

Ecole du Barreau - Montréal
445, boul. Saint-Laurent, Bureau 215
Montréal, QC, H2Y 2Y7
Tel: (514) 954-3459

Ecole du Barreau - Sherbrooke
Université de Sherbrooke
Faculté de droit
2500, boul. de l’Université, Bureau A9-101
Sherbrooke, QC, J1R 2R1
Tel: (819) 821-7516 or (819) 821-8000 ext. 3506

Ecole du Barreau - Québec
76, St Paul Street, Suite 200
Quebec, QC, G1K 3V9
Tel: (418) 692-2724
Fax: (418) 692-2767

Notary Programs

Chambre des Notaires du Québec
Tour de la Bourse
800, Place Victoria, bureau 700 C.P. 162
Montréal, QC, H4Z 1L8
Tel: (514) 879-1793 or 1 800 263-1793
Fax: (514) 879-1923

Université de Sherbrooke
Directeur du programme de diplôme de droit notarial
Faculté de droit
Diplôme de 2e cycle de droit notarial,
Bureau A9-105
Sherbrooke, QC, G1K 2R1
Tel: (819) 821-7518
Fax: (819) 821-7578

Université de Laval
Directeur du programme de droit notarial et responsable du Comité d’admission et de supervision
Faculté de droit
Diplôme en droit notarial
Pavillon Charles-De Koninck, bureau 2451
Sainte-Foy, QC, Canada, G1K 7P4
Tel: (418) 656-2131 ext: 2292
Fax: (418) 656-7714

Université de Montréal
Responsable du Diplôme de droit notarial (D.D.N.)
Vice-décanat aux études supérieures et à la recherche
Faculté de droit
Case postale 6128, Succ. Centre-ville
Montréal, QC, H3C 3J7
Tel: (514) 343-6125
Fax: (514) 343-2199
E-mail: cyclessup@droit.uMontré
Website: http://www.droit.uMontré

Appendix D: Digest of Admissions Policies for Applicants
            with Disabilities at Faculties of Common Law

The following is a short summary of the admissions policies of Canadian common law schools, as
they relate to accommodating applicants with disabilities. Each faculty determines its own
admissions guidelines and there is no national standard defining qualified students. Individuals
with disabilities may apply as regular applicants or in a discretionary category, where one is
available. There is no requirement that students with disabilities must apply in a discretionary
stream, although this is generally recommended if the nature and extent of the disability had a
significant impact on undergraduate performance. This strategy would help to ensure that the
application will be considered in light of all relevant factors. Most of the information below was
obtained from university and faculty of law web sites and from the LSAT Registration and
Information Book, Canadian Edition, 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 (available from the Law School
Admissions Council).

Note that this compilation reports statements made by the institutions concerning the quality of
their equity programs and disability accommodations. Some comparative data may be lacking
because it was not made available on the institution's website. The opinions expressed regarding
each law school or university are those of the institution itself and have not been independently

University of Alberta Faculty of Law
The University of Alberta encourages applications from students with disabilities and invites
them to self-identify. There is at present (in early 2000) no specific recruitment program or
special category for applicants with disabilities. (The Faculty does have an equity program for
Aboriginal students.)

University of British Columbia, Faculty of Law
The UBC Faculty of Law offers three admissions categories for first year students: Regular
Applicants, Discretionary Applicants, and First Nations Applicants. A limited number of
positions in first year are reserved for Discretionary applicants. The Admissions Committee may
take into account physical disabilities, learning disabilities or any other factors which the
Discretionary applicant wishes the Committee to consider. These special circumstances are
considered in the context of the applicant’s other achievements and experience. Discretionary
applicants should be residents of British Columbia and are required to submit a biographical
resume detailing any special factors with supporting documentation (such as medical reports) in
order for their file to be evaluated. Each application is considered individually on its own merits.
The UBC Faculty of Law admits up to ten part-time students each year where they demonstrate
special needs such as disability or health problems that prevent them from undertaking a full
course load. Students admitted to the part-time program must complete half the normal course
load each academic year. The Faculty of Law admits 196 students to first year from all
admissions categories.

University of Calgary Faculty of Law
There are no separate admissions categories, although the Admissions Committee considers a
number of factors, including academic record, LSAT performance, evidence of maturity, the
applicant’s personal statement of why he or she desires a legal education and letters of reference.
Some applicants may be required to attend an interview in Calgary at their own expense and often
on short notice. The Faculty of Law states that persons with physical disabilities who meet the
[admissions] criteria are encouraged to apply and, once admitted, will accommodate students in
accordance with the University policy. There is no mention of students with non-physical
disabilities and it is unclear how far this disability accommodation policy extends. No mention is
made of learning disabilities or mental disabilities.

The Faculty of Law admits 66 students to first year. No more than three part-time students are
admitted to each year and are required to provide documentation of exceptional circumstances,
personal health problems or any other personal hardship, disadvantage or special challenge.

Dalhousie University Faculty of Law
The Faculty of Law admits first-year students in five categories: Regular, Special Status, Mature,
Applicants to Indigenous Blacks, Mi’kmaq Programme and Native Applicants. While there is no
special admissions category for applicants with disabilities, applicants are required to submit a
personal information statement and are encouraged to indicate any exceptional circumstances that
they wish the Admissions Committee to consider, including disability or health problems. The
Faculty reserves limited places in first-year for part-time students who demonstrate that, because
of extenuating circumstances (such as disability) they are unable to fulfil the demands of full-time

McGill University, Faculty of Law
The Faculty admits approximately 150 students per year. There is no special admissions category
for students with disabilities, but the Faculty strives to promote diversity and considers many
factors. Candidates are chosen on the basis of academic records, linguistic abilities (French and
English), personal statements, community and extra-curricular activities and letters of reference.
All candidates must have “substantial” reading ability in both English and French because of
McGill’s comparative, bilingual environment. Applicants may apply for part-time studies where
they demonstrate that full-time study is impractical due to compelling reasons such as disability
or health problems. Candidates seeking admission to the part-time program must satisfy all
ordinary entrance requirements.

University of New Brunswick, Faculty of Law
The UNB Faculty of Law admits first year students in three categories: Regular, Discretionary
and Aboriginal. An applicant may request consideration in more than one category. The
Discretionary category seeks to increase access to legal education and the legal profession and
enhance the diversity of the law school and the legal profession. However, discretion is exercised
only where there is a clear indication that the applicant will be successful at law school. Where an
applicant wishes the Admissions Committee to consider a disability, he or she must submit a
personal statement explaining the disability, along with supporting (medical) documentation.
Applicants in all categories must provide autobiographical information.

University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, Common Law Section
The Common Law Section is committed to promoting academic diversity and considers many
factors in addition to undergraduate performance and LSAT score. There are three admissions
categories: General, Mature, and Aboriginal. While there is no special category for applicants
with disabilities, personal success in overcoming challenges such as physical or learning
disabilities are given significant weight by the Admissions Committee. Although there is no
minimum LSAT score for Discretionary applicants, those with a score below the 40 percentile are
rarely admitted. A limited number of part-time students are admitted each year. There are 120
first-year places in the English program.

Queen’s University, Faculty of Law
The admissions policies of the Faculty are designed so that people with varied personal
circumstances and life experiences have access to legal education. There are two admissions
categories: Educational Achievement (General) and Life Experiences and Perspectives of Special
Value to Law and Legal Education. The latter provides for eligibility based on attributes other
than, or in addition to, undergraduate educational performance and includes disability. There are
up to six places reserved in first year for applicants who demonstrate that, because of personal
circumstances (such as disability or health problems), they are unable to attend full-time studies.

University of Toronto, Faculty of Law
There are three admissions categories: Regular, Mature, and Aboriginal. While there is no special
category for students with disabilities, each applicant’s file is reviewed on an individual basis and
in comparison to others in the group. Applicants are required to submit personal statements
supporting their application and are encouraged to identify factors such as disability that they
wish the Admissions Committee to consider. Up to five candidates from all admissions categories
who otherwise meet admissions criteria may be admitted to the half-time program, if they are able
to demonstrate they are unable to attend school full-time because of such factors as a health
problem or disability. There are 170 first-year places.

University of Victoria, Faculty of Law
The Law Faculty admits 100 students in the first year program and offers three admissions
categories to ensure diversity in the student body: Regular Category, Special Access Category,
and Aboriginal Category. The Special Access Category is directed at students whose academic
achievements have been “significantly” delayed, interrupted, or adversely affected by economic,
cultural or physical factors, including disability. Selection from qualified Special Access
applicants is made on the basis of the applicant's LSAT score, academic performance, and
achievements in occupational endeavours, community and public service and cultural activities
which indicate an ability to succeed in law school. All students submit a personal information
statement and are encouraged to identify such issues as disability that they wish the Admissions
Committee to consider. A limited number of positions are available for part-time studies. Students
applying for part-time studies must demonstrate, with supporting documentation, that they are
unable to attend school full-time because of, for example, exceptional hardship or health problems
or physical disability.

University of Western Ontario, Faculty of Law
The Faculty of Law admits first year students in three categories: Regular, Special Category and
Access. The Special category includes applicants with disabilities, mature applicants and native
applicants. The Access category does not include persons with disabilities but pertains to
applicants who may be denied access on the basis of circumstances such as cultural identity or
language barriers. A personal statement is required for all applicants to allow candidates to
expand on information provided on the application form and to identify strengths and
achievements and other factors. Applicants with disabilities should provide full documentation
from qualified professionals re their disability and its effect on their academic record or LSAT
score. All Special category applicants must have an LSAT score above the 39th percentile and
must provide evidence supporting their “special” circumstances. They must also demonstrate a
potential for academic success. The total number of Special Category applicants admitted each
year is limited to a maximum of 25% of the class.

The Extended Time LL.B Program is available to up to five students who demonstrate that they
cannot manage a full-time program. Applications for the Extended Time Program should be made
at the same time as the application for admission to first year. Extended Time applicants are
required to meet all existing admissions criteria and establish that it would be difficult for them to
attend school full time because of, for example, health problems and disabilities.

University of Windsor, Faculty of Law
While there are no special admissions criteria, the Faculty of Law assesses applications on the
basis of the following seven criteria: university program, work experience, community
involvement, personal accomplishments, career objectives, personal circumstances and LSAT
scores. Students with disabilities could indicate their special circumstances for consideration
under the personal circumstances category. The LSAT and other requirements may be waived in
exceptional circumstances, at the discretion of the Admissions Committee. The Faculty admitted
151 students in 1998, 5 of whom were enrolled in the half-time program.

Enrolment in half-time studies is limited and at the discretion of the Admissions Committee.
Students must meet all requirements for full-time studies and demonstrate that they are unable to
attend full-time because of financial hardship, family obligations, physical disability, or health

York University/Osgoode Hall Law School
The Faculty offers five categories of admissions: Regular, Special Circumstance Consideration,
Mature Student, Aboriginal and Access (which includes applicants with disabilities). The Access
Applicant Category recognizes that using solely conventional measures of ability can have
discriminatory effects. The aim is to recruit and admit individuals with good academic potential
who have confronted identifiable barriers to education. Applicants in this category submit a
personal statement identifying those factors that they feel have affected their access to education.
Corroborative documentation and reference letters must be provided. In the case of disability, the
applicant must include details about any accommodations received in academic studies. Because
of the calibre of applications received in this category, applicants must have attained an overall
B/B+ undergraduate average and an LSAT score in at least the 50 percentile range.

University of Western Ontario, Faculty of Law
The Faculty of Law admits first year students in three categories: Regular, Special Category and
Access. The Special category includes applicants with disabilities, mature applicants and native
applicants. The Access category does not include persons with disabilities but pertains to
applicants who may be denied access on the basis of circumstances such as cultural identity or
language barriers. A personal statement is required for all applicants to allow candidates to
expand on information provided on the application form and to identify strengths and
achievements and other factors. Applicants with disabilities should provide full documentation
from qualified professionals re their disability and its effect on their academic record or LSAT
score. All Special category applicants must have an LSAT score above the 39th percentile and
must provide evidence supporting their “special” circumstances. They must also demonstrate a
potential for academic success. The total number of Special Category applicants admitted each
year is limited to a maximum of 25% of the class.

The Extended Time LL.B Program is available to up to five students who demonstrate that they
cannot manage a full-time program. Applications for the Extended Time Program should be made
at the same time as the application for admission to first year. Extended Time applicants are
required to meet all existing admissions criteria and establish that it would be difficult for them to
attend school full time because of, for example, health problems and disabilities.

University of Windsor, Faculty of Law
While there are no special admissions criteria, the Faculty of Law assesses applications on the
basis of the following seven criteria: university program, work experience, community
involvement, personal accomplishments, career objectives, personal circumstances and LSAT
scores. Students with disabilities could indicate their special circumstances for consideration
under the personal circumstances category. The LSAT and other requirements may be waived in
exceptional circumstances, at the discretion of the Admissions Committee. The Faculty admitted
151 students in 1998, 5 of whom were enrolled in the half-time program.

Enrolment in half-time studies is limited and at the discretion of the Admissions Committee.
Students must meet all requirements for full-time studies and demonstrate that they are unable to
attend full-time because of financial hardship, family obligations, physical disability, or health

York University/Osgoode Hall Law School
The Faculty offers five categories of admissions: Regular, Special Circumstance Consideration,
Mature Student, Aboriginal and Access (which includes applicants with disabilities). The Access
Applicant Category recognizes that using solely conventional measures of ability can have
discriminatory effects. The aim is to recruit and admit individuals with good academic potential
who have confronted identifiable barriers to education. Applicants in this category submit a
personal statement identifying those factors that they feel have affected their access to education.
Corroborative documentation and reference letters must be provided. In the case of disability, the
applicant must include details about any accommodations received in academic studies. Because
of the calibre of applications received in this category, applicants must have attained an overall
B/B+ undergraduate average and an LSAT score in at least the 50 percentile range.


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