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Instructor FAQ: COVID-19

Faculty Guidebook

McGill's OSD has developed a detailed Faculty Guidebook for instructors outlining our services and processes for both in-person and remote learning contexts. To access the guide, please click the link below.

Please refer to the following links for tips and resources on designing accessible online courses:

Please refer to our general FAQ for Faculty & Staff for additional information.

Instructor Webinar & Virtual Q&A

Are students in your course registered with the OSD? Are you interested in knowing a little more about what we do? Are you thinking about accessibility for Fall 2020? If so, we invite all faculty members and course instructors to join a virtual Q&A session hosted by Gift Tshuma, Access Services Advisor and Rakhee Chowdhury, Exam Centre Manager. We will be sharing strategies for supporting students with accommodations in a remote learning environment.

Sessions will be held on July 21st and August 4th from 1:00 to 2:00 pm. To attend, please fill out the instructor webinar registration from.

Instructor FAQ

How do I contact the OSD?

Please email disabilities.students [at] mcgill.ca to reach our frontline staff. To reach our exam coordinators, please email exams.osd [at] mcgill.ca

How can I incorporate the principles of Universal Design for Learning in a remote learning environment?

As McGill University is shifting to a remote learning environment, for the Summer and Fall 2020 terms, instructors are encouraged to set shared norms and expectations about assignment logistics from the beginning of the course. As such, many instructors are partnering with the OSD to adopt flexible assessment strategies in their course planning. The aim of this partnership is to create greater access for all students by incorporating principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Applying UDL principles ensures access to course content and assessments for most learners, thereby reducing the need for specific accommodations. When applied in the planning phase of your course and assessment design, this will make both learning and assessment goals achievable by all learners. For more detailed information on UDL and collaborating with the OSD, please consult our Faculty Guide.

One such UDL strategy is to increase the available time to complete an exam, for all students. This is often achieved by doubling the typical assessment duration. For example, an instructor may plan a one-hour exam, but provide students with two hours to complete the assessment. In most, but not all instances, increasing the exam time for all removes further need for time-based accommodations, because time-based considerations have been built into the assessment strategy from the onset of the course.

There may be exceptional circumstances in which disability-related accommodations may still be needed for students. If this is the case, students are encouraged to reach out to the OSD Exam Centre, following which and our exam coordinators will then coordinate with you, when necessary will communicate with you as needed.

See the SKILLS21 page on accessible workshop design for detailed information about the three principles of UDL as well as additional resources for concrete and easy-to-implement tools to make your online classroom more inclusive.

Are accommodations required in a remote learning and assessment environment?

Yes! The same legal requirement to provide disability-related accommodations exists in the online environment. For tips on creating an accessible learning environment, please see information we have provided on the TLS website, including a variety of external resources.

What do I need to do if students require accommodations for their exams in a remote learning and assessment environment?

If there are students in your courses that require accommodations for assessments, please advise them to complete our online exam sign-up form as soon as possible. Then, please complete the Exam Instructions for OSD form as soon as possible to provide us with the details of your exam. Once the information is processed, the OSD Exam Center will be communicating with you via e-mail to inform you of your students' authorized accommodations, as well as the necessary information such that you can make the appropriate adjustments. Please see this instructional video on how to add extra time on MyCourses for students with accommodations.

Prior to the exam, it is requested that professors communicate directly with students to inform them of any modifications to their exam (format, start time, or duration), so that students may prepare accordingly.

Note that time-based accommodations for exams apply DO NOT APPLY if the class has been given 48 hours or more to complete the assessment.

How do I learn more about the accessibility features within the online tools for content delivery and providing virtual assessments?

The Teaching and Learning Services have expanded their list of resources to assist professors with online learning and assessment. Please visit their website: https://www.mcgill.ca/tls/instructors/class-disruption. If you do not find answers to your questions, please contact TLS using their web form at: https://www.mcgill.ca/tls/instructors/class-disruption/instructor-questions.

How do I make sure content that I am providing to students is accessible?

  • In planning on how to alter your delivery of course instruction and the content you provide to students, we invite you to read the section "Remember to think about accessibility" on the TLS website and to engage with the resources provided.
  • If you are using videos in your course content, make sure to enable captions.
  • If you are using visuals during your lecture, including slides, images, etc., make sure to describe them verbally and indicate when you are advancing slides.

Please refer to the links provided above for more resources and tips on designing accessible courses, and visit the OSD's Personal technology solutions page to learn more about what students can use to access your courses and assessments.

Equity at McGill has also put together information on assistive technologies available during the remote learning period (see Technology as well as Teaching and Learning sections).

I have received a reasonable consideration request for an extension, what do I do?

If a student registered with the OSD submits a reasonable consideration request for an extension, you will receive an email from the OSD with instructions and a form to complete with the student.

If an extension is granted, you can find instructions on how to adjust the assignment deadline on MyCourses for that particular student here: https://community.brightspace.com/s/article/000006528

How do students get time-based accommodations for online assessments?

Students who are eligible for exam accommodations with the OSD must complete the online exam sign up form a minimum of 7 days prior to the date of the assessment.

The OSD Exam Coordinators will then follow up with you, the course instructor, and request that you complete the Exam Instructions for OSD form to confirm the details of the exam at least 3 business days before the exam. The information provided on this form is crucial as it will confirm and/or supersede the exam details students have provided on sign up.

Once you have confirmed the details of the assessment, the OSD Exam Coordinators will follow up with you approximately 2 business days before the assessment by email to inform you of any time-based accommodations to be applied to the given exam (see image below for example).

The OSD has created an online calculation tool to support instructors with the implementation of these accommodations (login required).

It is possible to adjust the individual timing of exams on myCourses for students with different time-based accommodations. Detailed instructions can be found through McGill IT Services (login required). Brightspace also offers a series of video tutorials, including one on changing individual exam times. Detailed instructions can be found in this McGill IT Support Article. The article pathway is: Knowledge base > Teaching & Learning > myCourses (learning management system) > Creating Quizzes in myCourses > Restrictions (Allowing Students Special Access to a Quiz).

You can also enter “Creating Quizzes in myCourses” into the search form.

Prior to the exam, we ask that professors communicate directly with students to confirm any modifications to their exam (format, start time, or duration) so that students are informed that their accommodations have been applied and can prepare accordingly. With the information provided by OSD, instructors can follow the guidelines on "Remember to think about accessibility" on the TLS website and to engage with the resources provided, and "Allowing students Special Access on MyCourses", available on the IT Knowledge Base.

If the class has been given 48 hours or more to complete the assessment:

Time-based accommodations do not apply; students do not submit an exam sign-up form. The OSD Exam Center may reach out to you directly should a student require exceptional consideration given their disability-related barriers.

How are time-based accommodations applied to various final exam formats?

Below we have put together a simple chart outlining how time-based accommodations are applied to the recommended final exam formats:

Exam Option Do time-based accommodations apply? Who does what?

Non-timed assignment:

(e.g. students have 1 week to complete an essay)

No No action necessary

Take-home exam (non-timed):

(e.g. students have 48 hours or more for completion)

No No action necessary.

Timed online exam



Informs instructors of student time-based accommodations


Adjusts exam times individually for all students who have approved accommodations and communicates directly with students to inform them of any modifications to their exam.

While other individual accommodations, and occasional exceptions may still be required (and will be coordinated by OSD), time-based accommodations are by far the most prevalent and will require direct instructor involvement, based upon examination strategy.


If I give a 3-hour myCourses exam that students have 48 hours to access, do time-based accommodations apply?

Yes. Since the assessment period is time-bound, time-based accommodations will apply, and you will have to manually adjust students’ access times within myCourses following receiving confirmation from the OSD Exam Centre of students’ accommodations.

If I give a take home exam with a due date of 48 hours or more, do time-based accommodations apply?

No. Since you are giving an assessment period of 48 hours or more for the student to work at their own pace, time-based accommodations do not apply.

I expect that an exam will take 2 hours for students to complete, but I am giving the entire class 3 hours to complete it (to help with technological issues that may arise). Do I still need to provide accommodations?

Yes. Many instructors have reached out to the OSD prior to an examination period about providing extra time to all students to allow them to deal with any technical issues that may arise. TLS also recommends that for open-book, timed exams, time should be added to the submission timeframe to allow for connectivity issues (a suggestion is 30 minutes). It is important to keep in mind that OSD-registered students may experience technical issues as well as barriers related to their disability.

Considering this possibility, students’ approved accommodations continue to be applied for any exam under 48 hours in duration. Doing so will ensure students' accommodations are consistent with legal requirements, even if all students are provided with extra time.

I expect that an exam will take 2 hours for students to complete, but I am giving the entire class 4 hours to complete it to allow for UDL principles. Do I still need to provide accommodations?

Flowchart indicating when to apply time-based accommodations to take-home exams

Note: There may be exceptions where individual time-based accommodations are still required.

Can I accommodate a student on my own without the OSD?

If you are willing to provide a student their academic accommodations during your exam then you are welcome to do so. We would encourage you, in this case, to have the student contact their Access Services Advisor to communicate their specific accommodations to you.

As an instructor, I am experiencing accessibility-related barriers, what supports are available to me?

If you are experiencing accessibility-related barriers and would like to speak with someone about resources available to you, we would invite you to connect with McGill’s Equity Advisors.

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