How to support students with accommodations during Brightspace exams

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Where to find student accommodation information?

Instructors can find a student’s letter of accommodation by logging into the Centre for Acessible Learning (CAL) Online Instructor Services. Students are responsible for making their letters available to instructors on this service. The CAL reminds students to release their letters prior to an exam, with enough time for instructors to plan for the accommodation(s) and communicate with the student how the accommodation(s) will be applied.  

It is important to maintain the privacy of students who are registered with the CAL. The CAL suggests using an all-class email or announcement to provide general information about the exam (e.g., date(s), amount of enforced time) in a way that does not draw attention to individual students or specific accommodations.

Note: We advise against using the Brightspace Groups tool when setting up accommodations or communicating with students who have accommodations because the Groups tool is not private. Groups let other students see who else is in their group. 

Steps for supporting students with exam accommodations


Design assessments with accessibility and accommodations in mind

Seek support from the Center for Accessible Learning (CAL), if you have questions about specific accommodations and communicate with your student to understand their needs and discuss how their accommodations can be met. 

LTSI can provide a supportive, inclusive and mutually respectful online invigilation environment for an invigilated online exam or assessment for students who require an alternative arrangement (e.g., students with academic accommodation, international students and students experiencing short-term absences).

LTSI Learning Experience Designers support instructors in setting up online courses and exams to address the needs of students with academic accommodations. Set up a consultation by contacting

Recommended time frame:

At the exam planning stage


Compile a complete list of students and set up their accommodations

You can author extended time accommodations at the course level using the Classlist tool in Brightspace. In some cases, you might want to author extended time accommodations using special access. For a demonstration of either option, please contact 

Please note that students may release accommodation letters at different times throughout the term, and accommodation plans for students can change in response to emerging or changing barriers. We recommend updating your accommodation list as you receive new letters.   

Recommended time frame:

One week prior to exam


Communicate with students

Communicate with all students in your class, regardless of whether they have accommodations or not, and develop a contingency plan for what to do if issues arise (e.g., internet disruptions, power outages). Review our online exam quickquide for some contingency planning tips and our sample exam communications guide for different types of online exams.

Important information to communicate with students who have accommodations:  

  1. Reassure students that their accommodations have been addressed in the exam and / or that their additional time has been added.   
  2. Let students know how they can confirm for themselves that their accommodation has been applied. (If you are not sure, please ask to provide instructions that you can share with students.)  
  3. Ask students to contact you immediately if they believe their accommodation has not been addressed. 

Recommended time frame:

One or two days before the exam

What do I do if a student reaches out with…

A short-notice exam accommodation request?

It may not be possible to support the accommodation in time for the upcoming exam; students are advised of this possibility by the CAL. To try and meet a short-notice time extension accommodation, you can choose to follow these steps to set up special access prior to the exam start time, reach out to, or come to live support (10 AM to 12 PM) for urgent assistance.

Concerns that their accommodation was not added correctly?

You can choose to follow these steps to check or add special access right away, or reach out to for assistance. 

After the exam:

if you would like to debrief on how the exam went for students with accommodations, or about any questions you had about the student experience, you can book a Zoom chat with a Learning Experience Designer through our consultation booking system or emailing us at  

About this post

This post was last updated:

March 5, 2021

We acknowledge and respect the Lək̓ʷəŋən (Songhees and Esquimalt) Peoples on whose territory the university stands, and the Lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ Peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.

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