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A. Purpose of the Policy

The purpose of this document is to outline Disability Accommodation Policies which are specific to the School of Physical Therapy Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) program.

This document aligns with and is a supplement to the University of Saskatchewan Academic Accommodation and Access for Students with Disabilities Policy. In addition, relevant legislation under the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code was considered in the development of this document.

For the purposes of this policy, disabilities are those defined as such in the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, and as such, ‘disability’ means:
  1. any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes:
    1. epilepsy;
    2. any degree of paralysis;
    3. amputation;
    4. lack of physical co-ordination;
    5. blindness or visual impediment;
    6. deafness or hearing impediment;
    7. muteness or speech impediment; or
    8. physical reliance on a service animal, wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device; or
  2. any of:
    1. an intellectual disability or impairment;
    2. a learning disability or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in the comprehension or use of symbols or spoken language; or
    3. a mental disorder: a disorder of thought, perception, feelings or behaviour that impairs a person’s:
      1. judgment;
      2. capacity to recognize reality;
      3. ability to associate with others; or
      4. ability to meet the ordinary demands of life;

B. Principles

  1. The School of Physical Therapy will fulfill its obligations under the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code and adhere to relevant University of Saskatchewan policies related to reasonable accommodation for students with disabilities.
  2. The School of Physical Therapy will fulfill its obligations related to duty to inquire relative to students, who based on observed performance in class, clinical lab, or clinical practice, may potentially require disability accommodation. 

C. Scope of Policy

This Policy applies to all individuals with disabilities who:

  • are considering applying to the MPT program
  • have applied to the MPT program
  • have been accepted into the MPT program
  • are currently enrolled in the MPT program

D. Description of the Profession of Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy is a primary care, autonomous, client-focused health profession dedicated to improving quality of life by:

  • Promoting optimal mobility, physical activity and overall health and wellness;
  • Preventing disease, injury, and disability;
  • Managing acute and chronic conditions, activity limitations, and participation restrictions;
  • Improving and maintaining optimal functional independence and physical performance,
  • Rehabilitating injury and the effects of disease or disability with therapeutic exercise programs and other interventions; and
  • Educating and planning maintenance and support programs to prevent reoccurrence, re-injury or functional decline.

Physical Therapy is anchored in movement sciences and aims to enhance or restore function of multiple body systems. The profession is committed to health, lifestyle and quality of life. This holistic approach incorporates a broad range of physical and physiological therapeutic interventions and aids.

Physical Therapy services are those that are performed by physical therapists or any other trained individuals working under a physical therapist’s direction and supervision.

Primary Functions

Physical therapists utilize diagnostic and assessment procedures and tools in order to develop and implement preventative and therapeutic courses of intervention. They apply a collaborative and reasoned approach to help clients achieve their health goals, in particular focusing on the musculoskeletal, neurological, cardiorespiratory and multi-systems. Within these systems, physical therapists practice in areas that include pediatrics, geriatrics, oncology, women’s health, pain, critical care, wound care, occupational health and sports medicine.

Physical therapists analyze the impact of injury, disease disorders, or lifestyle on movement and function. Their unique contribution to health care is to promote, restore and prolong physical independence by enhancing a client’s functional capacity. Physical therapists encourage clients to assume responsibility for their health and participate in team approaches to health service delivery.

(Adapted from: 2012 Description of Physiotherapy in Canada, published by the Canadian Physiotherapy Association)

E. Purpose/Goal of the MPT Program

The purpose of the School of Physical Therapy (the School) MPT program is to provide students with a high quality education which meets national and international academic and clinical practice standards.

Students who graduate from the MPT program will have a broad base of knowledge and entry-to-practice physical therapy competencies which will allow them to pursue various career options.

The following curricular outcomes were derived from the School of Physical Therapy’s Mission and curricular objectives and threads.

Upon completion of the program, an entry-level Master of Physical Therapy graduate from the School of Physical Therapy, University of Saskatchewan will be a/an:

  • Competent specialist in physical therapy practice: demonstrates strong clinical skills in assessment, clinical diagnosis and intervention.
  • Ethical, compassionate, accountable health professional: demonstrates responsibility towards contemporary health issues.
  • Life long learner: pursues professional development plan and seeks continuing learning experiences.
  • Evidence-based health professional: evaluates, integrates and implements research evidence in clinical decision-making, and contributes to the body of physical therapy knowledge.
  • Educator: educates clients, colleagues, students, and community; integrates prevention and health promotion in clinical practice; and, plans, designs and participates in education programs.
  • Primary health care practitioner: utilizes a comprehensive, client-centered care approach; appreciates health indicators including economic and social conditions at the personal, family and community level.
  • Intersectoral, collaborative health care practitioner: uses communication and management skills to facilitate effective therapeutic and inter-professional relationships.
  • Professional leader: demonstrates competence as an advocate and case manager; participates in activities that advance the physical therapy profession and serve the community.

Graduates who wish to become practicing physical therapy clinicians, in addition to successfully completing the MPT program, must also pass the Canadian Physiotherapy Competency Examination in order to obtain registration/licensure as physical therapists in most jurisdictions in Canada.

F. Integrity of the MPT Program

The following are integral to the School of Physical Therapy MPT program and inform decisions related to provision of accommodation as it relates to undue hardship.

i. Accreditation:

The MPT program is subject to Accreditation by Physiotherapy Education Accreditation Canada (PEAC). Accreditation is both a process and a condition. The process involves an integrated system of continuous assessment, evaluation, and improvement to comply with specified standards. The condition or state of being accredited provides a credential to the public and regulators, assuring that a program has accepted and is fulfilling its commitment to educational quality.

As such, although the delivery of the curriculum and mechanisms in which the curriculum is completed and assessed may be modified, the integral components of the curriculum (including classroom, laboratory and clinical content) must not be waived or compromised.

  • Entry-to-Practice Physiotherapy Curriculum: Content Guidelines for Canadian University Programs May 2009, Canadian Council of Physiotherapy University Programs, May 2009

ii. Bona Fide Occupational Requirements (BOR):

There are bona fide occupational requirements associated with the profession of Physical Therapy. These include academic, clinical, behavioural, legal-ethical (e.g., immunization requirements, criminal record checks, insurance) and professional performance requirements. Detailed information related to BOR is available in the following documents:

The School of Physical Therapy must abide within the context of affiliation agreements with health regions and health care facilities to provide clinical education placements for students. These affiliation agreements outline the legal-ethical requirement for students participating in clinical placements. The terms of these agreements are idiosyncratic and are subject to change.

All MPT students must demonstrate competency and adherence in regards to these bona fide occupational requirements.

iii. Performance:

Students of the MPT program, including students with disabilities, are responsible for: maintaining a high level of academic performance (Framework for Academic Expectations, Academic Advancement and Promotion), exhibiting professional behaviours (Master of Physical Therapy Program, Professional Behaviours and Expectations), as well as adhering to School of Physical Therapy attendance regulations (lectures, labs and tutorials and clinical placements).

G. MPT Program Duration

Normally students are expected to participate in full-time study in the two year and six week MPT program.  As per the College of Graduate Studies and Research Policy 10.6 time extensions may be granted to students who encounter problems while actively trying to finish their program; however, the official time limit for completion of the program is five years.  When necessary and when feasible, the School will attempt to provide accommodation for students with disabilities which will facilitate the completion of the MPT program within the designated time period. 

In certain instances, individuals with disabilities who are experiencing difficulties in fulfilling their obligations as a student may apply for leave.  For students who have applied for and have been granted an approved medical or compassionate leave, the leave period is not included in the time period for completion of the degree (College of Graduate Studies and Research Policy 10.6.1).

Regular classroom, laboratory and clinical attendance is required of all students.   Exceptions to the existing attendance policy for students with disabilities are only for those absences that comprise part of a student’s accommodation plan.

H. Pre-Screening Tool

As noted in Section F, there are Bona Fide Occupational Requirements for the profession of Physical Therapy.  These requirements are reflected in the content of the curriculum as well as in the expectations of students related to performance and participation in the classroom, laboratory and clinical components of the MPT program.

To assist individuals in understanding the demands of the profession/program as well as in determining their suitability for the profession/program, the following document has been provided: Essential Skills and Attributes Required for the Study of Physical Therapy at the University of Saskatchewan  

It is recommended that individuals with disabilities review this document to determine whether or not their disability may present an issue and what types of accommodations they may require.  Students are advised that in addition to the screening tool noted above, the use of other screening tools may be recommended.

I. Disability Registration, Self-Disclosure and Timing

The School of Physical Therapy is committed to assisting students with disabilities in entering and completing the MPT program.  As such, a student with disabilities is best able to determine and/or facilitate his/her future success in the MPT program by registering with Disability Services for Students (DSS) and self-disclosing his/her disability and accommodation requirements as soon as possible.

Given the intensive nature of the MPT program, as well as the specialized needs of the Physical Therapy profession, investigation of the feasibility of accommodation options may take some time.  In addition, the implementation of accommodation plans, when deemed feasible, may involve some modifications to the scheduling of components of the MPT program.  As such, the sooner a student registers, the sooner the process for accommodation can begin.

For additional information related to the process which is to be followed in order to register a disability and to request accommodation, individuals are encouraged to review the School of Physical Therapy Disability Accommodation Procedures.

J. Accommodation Needs Assessment

Student with disabilities who wish to pursue an accommodation needs assessment are to refer to the University of Saskatchewan Academic Accommodation and Access for Students with Disabilities Policy

Students are responsible for organizing their own assessment of disability and accommodation requirements   Support is available for students through Disability Services for Students.  The School may also be able to direct individuals to other resources.  In addition, the MPT Disability Accommodation Teams may be able to provide some basic advice to students in regards to adaptive technology related to the profession of Physical Therapy; however, the School is not responsible for investigating or sourcing these technologies on the student’s behalf. 

The particulars of the needs assessment may need to be modified on a case-by-case basis as identified by the relevant Disability Accommodation Team.

K. Disability Accommodation Teams

Two levels of accommodation procedures in the MPT review requests by students with disabilities to develop accommodation plans.

  • MPT Admissions Committee
  • MPT Academic and Clinical Disability Accommodation Team

The Disability Accommodation Teams are comprised of adequate representation to ensure appropriate linkages with Disability Services for Students, the School of Physical Therapy and the external community (as needed). Detailed terms of reference for the disability accommodation teams are available. 

L. Options for Students to Organize Accommodation

Students who anticipate requiring time to organize suggested accommodations may choose to exercise the following options:

i.  Admission deferral - Students who have received an Offer of Admittance may choose to exercise the option of Admission Deferral (College of Graduate Studies and Research Policy 6.4.3).

ii.  Medical leave - Students who are currently enrolled in the MPT program, and who have been identified as having a disability, may apply for a medical leave (College of Graduate Studies and Research Policy 10.6.1).

M. Scholarships

Students with disabilities are assessed utilizing the same criteria as other MPT students in regards to eligibility for and awarding of scholarships.

N. Student Responsibilities

It is the student’s responsibility to register in a timely fashion with DSS. As disability registration and accommodation planning may take time, students are responsible for meeting all prescribed deadlines related to disability accommodation.

Students are required to actively participate in the accommodation planning in order to receive appropriate accommodation

An accommodation plan is designed to allow the student to meet program requirements; however, it is does not guarantee successful completion of the program.

A student has the right to waive an accommodation; however, he/she will then be expected to meet the performance standard set without accommodation.

Students should consult the School of Physical Therapy document ‘Responsibilities of Students with Disabilities ‘ for more detail.

O. Joint University/Student Responsibilities

The Disability Accommodation Teams will make every effort to ensure that student accommodation needs are met as they progress through the MPT program. However, it should be recognized that students must also take an active role in the accommodation process.

This mutual responsibility will help ensure that the students’ accommodation needs are being addressed during the diverse educational activities both on and off campus, and throughout the varied student evaluations.

P. Documentation

Documentation of student accommodation requests, and those that are implemented, is paramount for ensuring that the appropriate and necessary steps have been taken in a timely manner to assist a student who has identified the need for accommodation.

The supporting documentation that provides evidence for the required accommodation, and the accommodation that has been implemented will be kept separate from the student’s academic file. This file will be housed in the DSS office.

In order for a requested accommodation to be implemented, it may be necessary to share relevant information on a need to know basis with the Disability Accommodation Team.

The final accommodation plan will be included in the student’s file in the School of Physical Therapy. Any other relevant information will be included with the student’s consent.

Q. Privacy

Confidentiality of all students’ personal information will be respected at all times.

Particulars of a student’s disability will not be disclosed to anyone without the express consent of the student

Particulars regarding a student’s accommodation plan may be shared on a need to know basis with those involved in implementing the plan or those affected by the plan.

R. Appeals

A student who disagrees with the recommendations of the Accommodation Team has the right to appeal, as per the University of Saskatchewan Academic Accommodation and Access for Students with Disabilities Policy.

S. Policy Review

The School of Physical Therapy Disability Accommodation Policy will be reviewed by the Academic Affairs committee, in consultation with DSS, and modified as needed. The policy will be reviewed annually for the first three years and biannually thereafter.