Special Accommodations

Applies to:

Candidates applying to attempt the Canadian Assessment of Competence in Optometry (CACO) who have a disability that may require accommodation.


Canadian Examiners in Optometry (CEO) – Examinateurs Canadiens en Optométrie (CEO-ECO) is committed to providing accessible and equitable service to all exam candidates. This includes administering the Canadian Assessment of Competence in Optometry (CACO), the national entry-to-practice examination for optometry in Canada, in a way that respects the dignity and independence of persons with disabilities.

In reviewing accommodation requests, CEO-ECO must balance the rights of the individual examination candidate with its mandate to protect the security, fairness, validity and reliability of the examination.

In supporting individuals requesting accommodation for the CACO, CEO-ECO will base its decision on the following fundamental principles:

  1. The protection of an individual’s rights to demonstrate the knowledge, skills and competencies in optometry within the context of the CACO.
  2. The protection of personal, private information, including personal health information.
  3. For the specific purpose of ensuring the members’ statutory mandate of public protection,CEO-ECO has a duty to deliver a legally valid and defensible entry to practice exam by ensuring a reliable and fair exam process that assesses whether or not a candidate has the abilities, knowledge and skills to conduct safe, effective, independent optometry practice.

Compliance with relevant legislation:
This policy has been developed in compliance with privacy legislation.

For the purpose of the policy, CEO-ECO defines disability in keeping with the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001, as follows:

Disability means,

a) any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device,

b) a condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability,

c) a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language,

d) a mental disorder, or

e) an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997; (“handicap”)

CEO-ECO does not differentiate between permanent and temporary disabilities when considering requests for accommodation.


CEO-ECO will review requests for accommodation on a case-by-case basis.

All requests are confidential. CEO-ECO will only release personal and/or personal health information to authorized persons for the purposes of determining the most appropriate accommodation. Also, CEO-ECO will provide the client seeking an accommodation with access to his or her own records, and be completely transparent regarding how the health information is used.

Examples of the types of accommodations that may be provided by CEO-ECO include, but are not limited to:

  • Extra time to complete the exam
  • A private room for the exam candidate
  • Access to medicine, food and/or drink during the exam outside of what is normally allowed

Candidates previously provided accommodations by their university optometry program may provide a copy of the accommodations as well as authorization for CEO-ECO to contact the program. CEO-ECO will consider accommodations that have been provided by an educational program but is neither bound nor compelled to provide any or the same accommodations in the CACO.

The offer of accommodations for the CACO does not obligate CEO-ECO to offer the same, or other, accommodations for any future administration of this or other exams it may administer. Candidates must apply for accommodation for each individual exam attempt of the CACO.

CEO-ECO reserves the right to deny accommodations if sufficient evidence has not been provided to support the accommodation request, or if CEO-ECO determines that the accommodation is unreasonable or practically not possible because it may have the effect of compromising the validity of the exam or its security, or result in unfair advantage.


1. A candidate seeking an accommodation must clearly demonstrate the following;

a. how the identified impairment impacts the ability of the candidate to successfully participate in the examination, and

b. how the requested accommodation(s) mitigate(s) the impairment within the specific context of the examination.

Requests for accommodations of a physical, cognitive or other special need:

2. Requests must be directed to the CACO Coordinator. Requests should be made at the same time as applying for the exam, but no later than 60 calendar days before the written exam date and 90 calendar days before the practical (skills) exam date. Such requests must include the following:

a. Special Needs Accommodation Form A available on the CEO-ECO website.

b. Completed Special Needs Accommodation Form A and current medical report, completed by an appropriate regulated health professional such as a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist etc. specifically outlining the disability and recommended accommodations. Documentation is considered current when the candidate has been assessed within the last 6 months for temporary disabilities, or within the last 3 years for permanent disabilities.

c. If applicable, a report, completed using the Academic Accommodations Form C from the candidate’s Optometry program regarding accommodations specifically required to accommodate the candidate’s disability and provided during academic and clinical examinations

Special Needs Accommodation Form A
Special Needs Accommodation Form B
Academic Accommodations Form C

3. CEO-ECO will not process requests if forms are incomplete and/or not submitted with required accompanying documentation. In these cases all documentation regarding the accommodation request will be returned to the candidate.

4. The final decision regarding an accommodation request is primarily the responsibility of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) made in consultation with staff and other exam subject matter experts as required. CEO-ECO reserves the right to designate the location and date/time of the examination as all accommodations may not be available at any given examination site and/or on any given examination date.

5. CEO-ECO may request third party input from a psycho-educational consultant which may also include the review of psycho-educational supporting documentation provided by the candidate. Candidates will provide consent to share the submitted documentation with the third-party consultant to enable this review by signing Form A. Any reports produced by the consultant will be considered the property of CEO-ECO.

6. A third party will review CEO-ECO’s proposed accommodations.

7. CEO-ECO will respond to a request for accommodation in writing. CEO-ECO is responsible for the cost of providing accommodations to the point of undue hardship to the organization.

8. If accommodation is made available, the candidate must indicate their satisfaction with the accommodation by signing and returning the final accommodation plan with original signature to CEO-ECO prior to the examination date. Accommodation will not be available if the plan is not signed and returned to CEO-ECO by the advised deadline.

9. Notwithstanding the usual timelines for submission of requests for special needs accommodations, for situations of recent injury and illness which occur immediately prior to exam date, candidates may request accommodations on a shorter timeline. These requests are an exception to normal business procedures and must be made as soon as possible prior to exam date.

10. The candidate acknowledges that the providing of an agreed accommodation cannot be used as grounds of appeal for a failure on the examination.

11. The candidate may appeal an accommodation decision of CEO-ECO within 30 days. This appeal will be considered by a committee independent of the chief executive officer.

Important Note:

Providing CEO-ECO with fraudulent documents with the purpose of obtaining an unneeded accommodation is considered ‘cheating’ and a violation of the CACO Cheating, Collaboration and Disruptive Behaviour Policy and may result in any and all of the sanctions outlined in this policy.

Any individuals involved (e.g. a reader or recorder) in providing or supporting an approved accommodation must sign an agreement with CEO-ECO stating that they will not provide any assistance to the candidate other than that agreed to by CEO-ECO in the context of the accommodation, or attempt to copy or recall any exam materials. Doing so will be considered a breach of the CACO Cheating, Collaboration and Disruptive Behaviour Policy and may result in any and all of the sanctions outlined in this policy.