Temporary Disabilities

During a student’s academic career, a student may experience a temporary disability. Mohawk College and Accessible Learning Services provides academic accommodations to students with disabilities that are both permanent and temporary in nature. In both cases, a student must follow the registration process with Accessible Learning Services and provide appropriate medical documentation outlining their functional limitations to support the development of an Accommodation Letter.

About Temporary Disabilities

What They Are

A temporary disability can be distinguished from a permanent disability by one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Duration of the functional limitations of the condition are finite
  • The diagnosis is relatively new, and it may not yet be known whether the condition is permanent or ongoing
  • The experience of symptoms is acute
  • A full recovery is anticipated within a predetermined amount of time
  • The need for academic accommodation falls only within the time that functional limitations are anticipated to be experienced
  • A comorbidity based on one or more of the above criteria that is experienced alongside a permanent disability or condition

What They Are Not

It is important to distinguish the difference between a temporary disability and other health conditions that a student may experience. A temporary disability generally would not be considered under the following circumstances:

  • A common cold, flu, or virus where a full recovery is anticipated
  • Absence from a class or missed course test for a short duration due to common illness as identified above
  • Stress or undiagnosed symptoms of anxiety related to sitting tests or exams
  • Routine monitoring by healthcare practitioners such as check-ups, assessments or evaluations

Students are encouraged to follow their program area policies, guides, and procedures around missed classes, tests, or assignments when experiencing a common illness as described above.

Examples of Temporary Disabilities

The following are some examples of temporary disabilities for which academic accommodation may be sought or required:

  • Sprains, strains or fractures
  • Impairments in physical or psychological health following motor vehicle accidents
  • Concussions
  • Newly diagnosed mental health conditions for which treatment and evaluation is ongoing
  • Return to studies following surgery
  • Undiagnosed disabilities for which a student is actively pursuing assessment and evaluation by a regulated healthcare practitioner
  • One or more of the conditions mentioned above that accompanies another permanent, diagnosed disability
  • Note: Common illnesses can often lead to an exacerbation of existing conditions or result in new diagnoses which would fall under the temporary disability category

Permanent versus Temporary

In cases where a disability is permanent, a student is likely to experience recurrent or episodic flares of their condition resulting in decreased functionality. In addition, the functional limitations of their condition are unlikely to fundamentally change or resolve over time. The need for academic accommodation in cases of permanent disability is anticipated to be throughout the course of study. Examples of permanent disabilities could include Autism Spectrum Disorder, a diagnosed Learning Disability, sensory impairments (ie. Blind/low vision, deaf/deafened/hard of hearing), and chronic systemic medical conditions.

Next Steps

If you know or suspect that you may have a temporary disability, please register with Accessible Learning Services. You will be asked to provide supporting medical documentation and will meet with an Accessibility Counsellor who can discuss your need for accommodation.

If you are unsure whether your condition would qualify as a temporary disability, please contact us and our staff will be able to best direct you to the appropriate resources based on your circumstances.

Contact ALS Icon

Have Questions? Need Assistance? Want to Book an Appointment?
We are here to help. Contact Accessible Learning Services by email at als [at] mohawkcollege.ca (als[at]mohawkcollege[dot]ca) or by phone at (905) 575-2122.