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Directive for Use of Memory Aids by Students with Disabilities

Classification number LCG 1103.04
Parent policy Accessibility policy
Framework category Legal, Compliance and Governance
Approving authority President
Policy owner Vice-President, Academic and Provost
Approval date November 2019
Review date November 2022


The purpose of this Directive is to balance the verified need for academic accommodations for students with disabilities with the academic freedoms and intellectual property rights of course instructors, while also meeting any legal obligations that may exist in a manner consistent with the University’s Policy on Accessibility and its commitment to creating a campus community that is inclusive of all individuals.


For the purposes of this Directive the following definitions apply:

“Academic Accommodation” means an arrangement that is made for a Student with Disabilities to enable them to participate equitably in the learning environment and in a manner that is consistent with and supportive of the essential requirements of the course and program.  

“Essential Competencies” means the knowledge, skills, judgement, values, beliefs etc. that are essential to the course/program/degree/profession that a student must be able to demonstrate.

“Memory Aid” means tools that assists a student by serving as a trigger for recalling and accessing information in testing situations aimed at assessing the student's mastery and understanding of the course material as opposed to what they have memorized. A memory aid should not reduce academic requirements or alter the standards by which academic performance is assessed.

“Students with Disabilities” means individuals who are currently registered in any course or program of study at OntarioTech and also registered at Student Accessibility Services, and as such have provided the appropriate medical and/or psychological documentation concerning the status and effect of their disability for determining reasonable and suitable accommodation measures that would allow them equitable access to meet the Essential Competencies of their courses and programs.

Scope and Authority

This Directive applies to Students with Disabilities who require the use of Memory Aids during a test or exam as part of an individual Academic Accommodation plan in the Accommodated Test Centre.
The Provost and Vice-President Academic, or successor thereof, is the Policy Owner and is responsible for overseeing the implementation, administration and interpretation of this Directive.


Process for approval of using memory aids during a test or exam

  1. Students with Disabilities who require the use of memory aids during a test or exam to meet the essential requirements of their course must provide appropriate medical and/or psychological documentation to Student Accessibility Services that identifies a bona fide disability-related need for this type of Academic Accommodation.
  2. Student Accessibility Services staff, upon verification of the need for this Academic Accommodation, will prepare a Notice of Accommodation for the Students’ course instructors indicating that the Student requires using memory aids for testing as a form of Academic Accommodation.
  3. Students with Disabilities for whom this is an approved Academic Accommodation will review the Memory Aid Guidelines for Students with Disabilities Document with their Counsellor.
  4. The counsellor acts as a consultant to assist the course instructor and Student to determine the suitability of this accommodation for a specific course. The counsellor may help to resolve specific challenges, provide sample memory aids as examples and clarify the process involved in using an approved memory aid during an exam.

Process for Implementing Memory Aids

  1. The Student requiring accommodations:
    1. Must understand what the purpose of a memory aid is and understand what is not permitted.
    2. Will create their own draft memory aid (letter-sized (8.5" x 11") – typically one or two pages in length) and submit it to the course instructor at least seven (7) working days before the test or exam.
    3. Is responsible for making any changes required by the course instructor and re-submitting the final copy to the course instructor at least three (3) working days before the test or exam.
  2. If the memory aid is not received by the course instructor for approval within the appropriate timeline, it is possible that the Student will not be allowed to use the memory aid.
  3. The course instructor:
    1. After receiving the Student’s Academic Accommodation plan, the course instructor should contact the Student’s Accessibility counsellor if there are any questions or concerns.
    2. When presented with the memory aid by the Student, the course instructor will either:
      1. Approve the memory aid sheet as is; or
      2. Return the aid to the Student to edit or remove any parts that have been deemed inappropriate. The Student will resubmit the aid for approval.
    3. Once an appropriate memory aid has been received, the course instructor will approve the memory aid and send the electronic copy to the Test Centre to be included in the Student’s test or exam package. All memory aids will be returned to the course instructor in the Student’s test or exam envelope.
In protecting and preserving academic integrity, course instructors are within their right to disallow a memory aid should it represent a clear academic advantage for the Student. A memory aid can also be disallowed in testing situations where it is clearly stated that rote memory is being assessed (e.g., evaluating students' recall of certain isolated terms or facts).

Protection of Privacy

  1. The University is committed to protecting the privacy of all members of the University community, including Students with Disabilities. At the same time, the University needs sufficient information to reasonably evaluate and respond to a student’s request for accommodation. For this reason, Students with Disabilities are required to provide to Student Accessibility Services information concerning the nature of their disability-related needs.

  2. At times the Academic Accommodation process may require that information about a Student with Disabilities be disclosed to staff and faculty outside of Student Accessibility Services on the basis that they “need-to-know” this information to perform their duties under the policies and procedures at the University. All personal information disclosed to such staff or faculty will be governed by the University’s Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Policy.

Monitoring and review

This Directive will be reviewed as necessary and at least every three years. The Provost and Vice-President Academic, or successor thereof, is responsible to monitor and review this Directive.

Relevant legislation

Ontario Human Rights Code, R.S. 1990, Chapter H.19

Ontario Human Rights Commission Policy on Guidelines on accessible education (2004) Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990

Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, R.S.O. 1990, Chapter 0.1.

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, S.O. 2005

Related policies, procedures & documents

Accessibility Policy (LCG 1103)

Procedures for Academic Accommodation for Students with Disabilities (LCG 1103.01)

Academic Regulations, Undergraduate Academic Calendar

Memory Aid Guidelines for Students with Disabilities