Accommodations for Graduate Students

I am a graduate student with a disability, and I require accommodations. What should I do?

image of four disability symbol, wheelchair, sign language, walking with a cane and an image of a brain inside a headFirst, it’s useful to be aware of the distinction between Academic Accommodations and Workplace Accommodations. You may require one or both, and they have different administrative pathways. The latter is relevant only to students who hold, or expect to hold, CUPE 3903 work assignments as part of their funding package.

For both sorts of accommodation, you may want to initiate a conversation with your Graduate Program Director (GPD), who can be a conduit to the relevant offices, and a source of support for tailored planning of your academic and work pathway through your degree. If you are not comfortable approaching your Graduate Program Director, you may choose to follow the steps outlined below.

  1. Academic Accommodations
    Academic accommodations are meant to remove barriers faced by students with disabilities in relation to their degree expectations (courses, comprehensives, proposal and dissertation writing). Accommodations must be flexible to adapt to student needs and capacities while maintaining the academic integrity of the program and course curriculum.To arrange academic accommodations, the first step is to register with Student Accessibility Services ( including the submission of documentation from a health care professional confirming the nature of the disability and related functional limitations. Each student will be assigned to an Accessibility Counsellor. With the informed consent of the student, the Accessibility Counsellor will work with the student, Course Director, GPD and Faculty Supervisor as necessary to facilitate the implementation of academic accommodations to allow an equitable opportunity for student success in their academic program.
  2. Workplace Accommodations
    As part of their funding package, many students have employment in CUPE 3903 bargaining units. Ordinarily, this will come in the form of a TA or GA assignment arranged in conjunction with their program and the hiring units in which they work. Students with disabilities may need modifications to TA or GA assignments.

To begin exploring a work accommodation, you should be in contact with two offices at York:

  • CUPE 3903 (; You have a right to have a union representative present for all conversations surrounding a work accommodation.
  • EWB (; Employee Well-being in Human Resources will arrange an intake appointment and co-ordinate a Work Accommodation Plan which will involve your Graduate Program, Faculty Relations and the Hiring Unit in which you would work (Resource Faculty in which your Graduate Program sits). Employee Well-being will require the employee to provide documentation from a health care professional confirming the nature of the disability and related functional limitations.

Timing. For both types of accommodations, the more lead time the better. Incoming students are advised to contact the relevant offices well before they will begin their studies, and to be in regular contact.

Trouble-shooting. Should you encounter obstacles at any point in the procedures above, the Associate Dean, Student Affairs in the Faculty of Graduate Studies ( can help co-ordinate and follow up. Another source of support, at any point in your studies, is the Graduate Wellness Manager ( with whom you can set up a consultation appointment: