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Athabasca University

Students with Special Needs

Athabasca University's goal is to remove barriers to university education for adults who are unable or unwilling to attend conventional campus-based institutions.  In keeping with this goal, the University strives to meet the requests of special needs students as far as possible.  As an AU tutor, your flexibility and willingness to meet these requests are valuable assets.

Prison Inmates

Inmate students are not permitted to receive gifts or personal letters from tutors. Violation of this policy can cause problems for students. Prison staff sometimes monitor phone calls. Questions about rules of contraband (things an inmate is not allowed to receive) can be directed to the Co-ordinator, Learning Services—Tutorial.

Many inmate students are highly successful, but because of the difficulty of studying within a prison, many are not. Prison environments are noisy and dangerous, and there are serious obstacles to overcome. A student who does succeed is to be encouraged.

Inmate students present a number of special concerns.

  1. Phone access may be limited. Rules vary greatly from one institution to another. When you have difficulty reaching a student, please call Learning Services—Tutorial. It may become necessary to rely exclusively on correspondence. 
  2. The tutor's home address and last name are not provided to inmate students.
  3. On the student profile sheet, an inmate student is identified under the category "special letter—yes."

Special Needs Groups

Athabasca University's homestudy, self-paced courses can be modified to accommodate students with a wide variety of physical and medical conditions, including visual impairment, hearing impairment, mobility impairment, paraplegia/quadriplegia, epilepsy, heart problems, arthritis, rheumatism, multiple sclerosis and recuperation from illness or surgery. If any of your students are designated as special needs, this fact is indicated on their student profile sheets.

Discuss alternative arrangements as necessary with your student and with your academic co-ordinator. Students with disabilities can be recognized from the student's profile under "Needs Accomodation". It is the student's responsibility to reveal their disability to the tutor.

If you are unsure how a student's medical condition affects their learning, or how to work with the student, Access for Students with Disabilities, will be able to provide some assistance. You can contact them at

For more information on special needs students see: Access to Student With Disabilities (ASD).

Updated September 26 2018 by Student & Academic Services

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