A Student-Focused Approach: Accommodate at Bishop’s University

Bishop’s University, located in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada is a small, primarily undergraduate, liberal arts institution with 2,700 students enrolled each year. Just one hour and 45 minutes away from Montreal, Canada, Bishop’s University (BU) is a student-centred institution that has been utilizing Symplicity Accommodate to support the roughly 450-500 students that need accommodations, each semester. Since 2020, Accommodate has improved BU's ability to support its students by implementing enhanced processes and increasing face-to-face time with students.

Enhanced Student Accessibility Services 

BU has two Accessibility Specialists who work with students and an Accessibility Coordinator who oversees the use of Accommodate, including orchestrating all activities behind the scenes. Supporting not just disability services, but overall student life, is BU’s Director of Student Life and Student Services, Theresa Gagnon. In her role, Gagnon was instrumental in getting Accommodate adopted at BU.  

Students can book their own exams, time with a specialist, and easily request accommodations all within the Accommodate student portal. Not to mention, being able to directly email students and send accommodation request forms all within the system has been a game changer. “It’s a more streamlined way of doing things for us and the students, especially from a team perspective it has given everyone more time back.” Gagnon told Symplicity.

Staff now have a centralized place to put in notes for when they meet with a student, and they can directly see what each team member has discussed with each student. This ties into BU’s overall holistic approach to student success.  “Being very student-focused, Accommodate has allowed my team to maintain BU’s mission and to be invested in our students. Students don't just leave with a degree, they leave with an experience that brings you many other opportunities in life,” Gagnon told Symplicity. 

Staff who use Accommodate can also now work remotely, assured that they can work with any student at any time with access to a secure system. Because of the time saved with Accommodate, the Accessibility Specialists can meet more frequently with other campus leaders. “One of the specialists has been meeting with our writing centre to see how they can better support students who live with a disability. Without Accommodate, the specialists simply wouldn’t have time to meet with campus partners like that,” Gagnon said. 

“Being very student-focused, Accommodate has allowed my team to maintain BU’s mission and to be invested in our students. Students don't just leave with a degree, they leave with an experience that brings you many other opportunities in life."


Theresa Gagnon
Director of Student Life and Student Services, Bishop's University

Reporting and Time Back 

The University uses Accommodate for reporting and data management related to student accommodations. It has replaced manual reporting processes, allowing the University to generate the specific reports required for government funding and compliance. Prior to Accommodate, BU was using a paper filing system that was kept in cabinets to house all of the necessary required government documents in case the institution were to be audited. Not only were the physical documents taking up space, but manually looking for certain documents was eating up time; someone had to go get the key to the right filing cabinet, search for the right file, put the file back, manually import the information into a system, etc which would take “forever.”

Now, with Accommodate, all the information is readily accessible. “Just being able to have access to all of the information that we need to do our jobs effectively and support the students, that was really tough before Accommodate,” said Gagnon. “It allows us to not focus so much on the paperwork and being paper pushers. Instead, it really has allowed us the opportunity to connect better with our students.” Now, Gagnon and her team can easily access student files with a simple click to see how many students are seeking accommodations, the types of accommodations students are requesting, and information on each student for better student engagement.  

In 2023, BU utilized Accommodate to pull reports generally on how their office is supporting students and specific reports that the government can request. Originally, BU’s accessibility office relied on information from the Registrar’s Office, now with Accommodate the office can pull its own reports whenever they need to, quickly report to stakeholders as necessary, and pull exactly what they want. “Reporting, it equals funding for us,” Gagnon said. 

Steadfast Partner Through and Through 

From its implementation process to execution, BU has been supported by Symplicity. “It’s been a seamless transition,” Gagnon said. “Just knowing that someone will answer our question within the same day is huge. But you know, we always get an answer and if it's something that's going to take a little bit longer, the communication is really there. I think one of the most reassuring things is that we know that there's going to be someone who will answer.” 

Disability Services, Accommodation Requests, Accommodations, Canada, Accessibility Services, Accommodate, Learning Disability, Student Accessibility, student outcomes

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