Working Towards a Coordinated National Approach To Services, Accommodations And Policies For Post-Secondary Students With Disabilities
Chapter 5: Best and Better Practices
-Students and service providers were asked to reflect on what they felt were the three most and the three least successful programs, services or features in terms of campus accessibility at their educational facility and to give details as to why they felt this way. These responses were grouped and coded in an attempt to define common theme areas but the responses themselves varied greatly and some defy easy categorization. The groupings did provide a basis for determining what general areas should be examined in understanding the successes of accessibility at Canadian post-secondary institutions.
There were several areas where responses tended to be clustered and a high degree of similarity in the responses of service providers and students in terms of the areas where they felt programs, services and features were successful. These areas were as follows: aspects of service delivery and particularly the centres through which services were accessed; academic accommodations/modifications (including extended exam time); adaptive technology; and learning support services (notetakers, tutors, etc.). Service providers, in addition, more frequently noted that services to students with learning disabilities were included in the array of successful programs.
Features of physical accessibility were also frequently singled out as an area of success, but these were more frequently cited by both students and service providers as an area of least success. No strong clusters were observed in other areas, although students tended more frequently than service providers to indicate problems in access to adaptive technology while service providers tended more frequently to mention the lack of training and awareness programs. The details provided in response to both questions provide some indication of what constitutes "best" or "better" practices of accessibility in the above identified areas. Some themes did emerge, while evidence of good, better or best practice in certain areas was not clear. The following discussion attempts to examine those instances where both evidence of good practice is clear and where evidence of some problems or qualifications may arise. We hope that "better" practice may emerge from the comparison of the two.
A. Aspects of Service Delivery/Service Centre
Both service providers and students most frequently cited the delivery of services to students with disabilities, whether through a designated service centre or through another office, as the most successful feature of accessibility at their institution. Contact with disability service providers and support personnel in a variety of contexts and for a range of purposes were valued highly by students. Service providers also recognised that this was an important feature of accessibility within the institution for a variety of reasons.
Service providers at disability service centres and disability service coordinators in student service offices identified a broad range of functions performed through their auspices. (See responses in Appendix Two). Students frequently recognised this as a successful aspect of accessibility:
-I think the [Centre] is very successful at ensuring that students with disabilities have the required note takers and exam accommodations. In terms of service, the DRC is excellent. Without these services many students would not be able to finish their degrees. If a student with a disability has a concern, they can go ask questions in order to find a solution at the DRC. I know that if I am facing a problem, e.g. a professor doesn't want to give me extra time, the DRC will step in and advocate for me when I am not being listened to. If you have a problem with a room, the DRC will change the room. This ensures that students have the opportunity to take whichever course they want to, without being limited. Other-Loss of fine motor control; University, BC
-Many service offices provide a wide range of services to students with disabilities and this is recognised as a benefit by students. Yet not all institutions have the resources or the clientele to sustain a stand-alone office that provides such services. Many institutions report that services are divided between counselling, learning support and other offices and often disability support personnel operate within the framework of general student service departments. While many service providers identified the model of service delivery within which they work as centralized (that is providing a full range of services to students through one office), one service provider gave some content to the notion that a decentralized model (that still relies on a service centre for coordination) can foster greater awareness within different areas of the institution:
-Model of Service Delivery - [The Centre] is responsible for coordinating oncampus services for students with disabilities in partnership with faculty, staff, students and the university administration. As such, disability accommodations and services are a university-wide (shared) responsibility. This has led to greater disability awareness within the university and more effective cost-sharing among university departments in terms of providing services and accommodations to students with disabilities. [The Centre] awards annually to an individual or group for excellence in disability accommodations. Past recipients include the Computer Science, Chemistry and Physics Departments, faculty, staff and students. SP, University, Atlantic Provinces
Most disability service provision offices also include integration/coordination as part of the functions of their offices and this constitutes part of the success of their attempts to ensure accessibility. Providing integrative links as well as services is a necessary aspect of most successful disability service provision. And service providers can also affect planning in terms of physical access:
† Lots of relevant auxiliary support staff service available on campus (i.e. Study Skills Workshops; Counselling and Development Centre, Writing and Method Centre, Tutor Registry, Recreation Centre) and positive linkages between the Access Centre and these services. SP, University, ON
† [Access Committee] recently struck. This is an internal committee made up of representatives from various areas of the college including physical services, planning, scheduling, computer services, parking and representatives from the Disability Services Office. The primary focus of this group is to ensure that disability issues remain at the forefront of any planning taking place on the college campuses, e.g. Construction of a new wing (access issues), scheduling of classes in portables, modifications in student computer labs (hardware and software implications on adaptive technology, etc.). Our goal is to be proactive instead of reactive to any given circumstance. SP, College, ON
This kind of integration, however, often relies on the existence of a coordinating centre that can generate the awareness necessary to maintain such efforts. Students reported that the lack of an office or staff person that focused on disability service issues was one of the least successful features of access at their particular institution precisely because the integrative function was not being performed:
† [Need] centralization of disability service delivery where one office is responsible for all physical accessibility and educational needs. There is a need for more integration of services and programs at this particular institution. Mobility impaired; University, ON
† The lack of communication between departments and student support systems at [the Campus]. The attitude of separation and the lack of clarity in lines of responsibility and assistance guidelines. Too many departments, no umbrella in relationship to disabled students. Run around! Medical Disability; College, BC
The responsibility for services for students with disabilities is often housed within a unit that provides other forms of service to a broader range of students. This is sometimes perceived as a problem by students:
† Student Services deals with all disability problems. There is no separate office for this. [The Centre] is only for students with learning disabilities and it is privately funded. It doesn't have enough money to handle all of its students. Learning Disability; University, Atlantic Canada
When such services are included within the context of learning support services, this seems to be less of a problem:
† The most successful aspect of service at [The College] is the support staff employed in the Educational Support Centre and in Counselling Services. They are committed and will do whatever they can to accommodate even with meagre resources. BlinaWisually impaired; College, MB
† Learning Centre -- A place to go to talk about needs, work on computer, write tests; A person to assist you when in need of help. Even with a disability and with English as a second language (like me) you can succeed in your education. I find there is support for any need if you ask for help. Other-Carpal Tunnel Syndrome; College, ON
Service providers indicate that there are often compelling reasons to include disability service provision under the umbrella of other service offices, particularly when this affords greater concentration of resources or the opportunity of contacting students who might not otherwise visit a disability services centre:
† We are housed within the Learning Skills Centre so that students with disabilities can have more coordinated support from the Disability Services Consultants, the Learning Skills Specialists - this is especially important to the students with learning disabilities. SP, College, AB
† All services coordinated through counselling office - totally integrated - less stigmatizing. SP, College, BC
Whether provided through a disability service office or through the auspices of another office, some forms of service appear to be critical to the maintenance of accessibility. Assessing students needs and providing counselling on types of accommodation and assistance are central facets of disability service provision. Service providers and students frequently included this as a successful feature of access at their institution:
† Service d'acceuil et d informations. Nous offrons un encadrement, facilitons les documents en medias alternatifs et les contacts avec les professeurs. Les etudiants sont rencontres individuellement afin de conndtre et evaluer leurs besoins. SP, Universiti, QC
† Students with disabilities are all seen by counsellors for identification of appropriate accommodations and are monitored (by the counsellors). They are seen each semester to ensure that their needs are being addressed. SP, College, ON
† Student Services -- They were able to identify that I had a problem. They provided me with ongoing support to learn how to learn - my style. They provide continual educational guidance and assistance. Learning Disability; University, MB
† Providing a special needs counsellor. She was extremely helpful in telling me what services/equipment were available to allow me to achieve the best grades I can. Medical Disability; College, ON
Some students found monitoring by a disability counsellor to be less successful, particularly if it was tied to receipt of other services:
† The office requires each student to meet with a counsellor each year, regardless if things have changed or not, before a student may receive any type of assistance. This is a waste of time for faculty and students. Also students may need help prior to their meeting. Bad administrative policy. Learning Disability; University, ON
Similarly, while few students complained about having to provide documentation when asked to indicate the best and least successful aspects of campus accessibility, at least one found the necessity of providing "updated" documentation from an external specialist to be less than fair:
† [The University] needs to ease up on their policy of not accepting assessments over three years old. Assessments are expensive and not very accessible in the north. Learning Disability; University, BC
Notifying faculty of special needs is a service that is frequently provided and that most students routinely record as positive. For the most part this involves preparation of a letter detailing the assessment of a student's special needs:
† Upon registration of a release of information form by a letter he/she can be provided with a letter for their instructor(s) identifying needs ... SP, University, SK
† The professors here are provided with individualized notification about what I require. I find this very valuable. Medical Disability; University, ON
† Accommodations for extra time on exams and assignments. A formal letter is sent to each prof explaining why accommodations are needed and requesting their cooperation. Learning Disability; University, ON
† My profile sent to my instructors-- This reduces my anxieties; less stress for me since I have a letter of introduction re: my migraines. Medical disability (Migraines); College, ON
Clearly though, the willingness of faculty to accommodate is sometimes in doubt and students and service providers both recognize that disability service providers can help to validate the required accommodations through greater contact with departments and individual faculty members.
† Disability Services -- Act as liaison between students and their respective faculties. Deaf/Hard of hearing; University, MB
† [The Centre]. This office acts as a mediator between students and professors in making special arrangements for exams. Blind/Visually Impaired; University, Atlantic Provinces
The relationships service personnel may build over successive years dealing with faculty members means that their intercession on behalf of students has a greater guarantee of effectiveness:
† Individual contact with students and coordination with instructors and other services within the college. We are a small institution, thus it is more feasible to know the instructors and students quite well. The consultants do an excellent job of getting to know the individual students and have built up the respect of instructors, SP, College, A B
† The Office for Students with Disabilities has good connections with all profs so it is easy to access alternate learning environments or exam accommodations. Blind/Visually impaired; University, QC
Many students also recognize that the initial communication of needs through the service office can provide an opportunity to discuss these needs with a professor and to become their own advocates:
† Disability Services -- I am an organizational nightmare. Therefore, I am extremely grateful to have DS who take care of all exam accommodations and administrative headaches. All I have to do is pick up papers and drop them off to my profs. They also foster studentlprof relationships. Learning Disability; University, MB
† The way letters are written to professors from the Office of Students with Disabilities. It gave me an in to talk to all my professors and advocate my own needs. Mental Health Disability; University, QC
As one service provider noted, however, the more difficult problem In some institutions is the establishment of policies on accommodation that would ensure students of a solid basis for requesting accommodations from faculty members.
† Lack of policies - makes it difficult to require instructors to provide accommodation in those instances where they are not inclined to cooperate. SP, Co Ilege, MB
Service providers are not only involved in advocating for students with individual faculty members. For instance, most service provider respondents in Quebec indicated that they do attempt to address the needs of students with learning disabilities despite the lack of provincial funding or sanction for these services. As one Quebec service provider indicated, while provincial recognition of entitlement for students with learning disabilities is not yet established, widening services for them and advocating on their behalf is still part of the responsibility of service provision.
-Services of disabled students. I advocate for all of our disabled students. We are funded only for hearing, vision and mobility impaired, but I widen the services for learning and medical disabled. SP, College, QC
Students recognize other forms of advocacy as a valuable aspect of successful service provision. Moreover, they recognize that the service provider often advocates in the absence of support from other partners at the post-secondary level:
† Centre for Special Services -- Resource centre for students with special needs; willing and able to go to bat for students. Other-Hemiplegic; University, ON
-Special Services Dept. is the most successful. Any changes taking place to aid disabled students are initiated by them, but cooperation from faculty and government is difficult and sometimes seems impossible. Medical Disability; Univemity, ON
† Services for Students with Disabilities: This office helps all students with disabilities. They go out of their way to help and are actively involved in bringing accessibility issues to the attention of the university. Learning Disability; University, AB
† Centre for Students with Disabilities -- A required liaison for students to achieve success in their studies. (I think the Students' Association could do more than they do.) Mental health, Medical disability; College, ON
† The Centre for Student Development has helped me, acting as liaison with my department when I needed them to intercede. De@/Hard of hearing, Learning Disability, A cquired Brain Injury; University, ON
† [The Centre] provides support and advocates on my behalf for extra time, quiet rooms and tutor in statistics. Also have assessment and counselling services. Services are being cut. Mental Health Disability, Other-Nun-declared Learning Disability; University, ON
The opportunity for personal contact with an individual who is knowledgeable, can understand and assess needs, and assist in the resolution of problems is also a successful feature of service provision commonly identified by both students and service providers.
† It is good to have one person to go to as advisor and special needs coordinator makes things less complicated. Mobility impaired; University, MB The Office for Students with Disabilities and its services (computer labs, lounge, etc.) The coordinator is excellent and very fair. She really cares about students. Learning Disability; University, QC
† A very good and personalized service at the Centre for Students with Disabilities. All counsellors are very knowledgeable and attentive to students' needs. Mobility impaired; College, ON
† Bureau d'accueil des personnes handicapees. -- la coordonnatrice.-- on est toujours au courant selon nos besoins. Dificience motn'ce; Universiti, QC
Some students may feel that the relationship with service providers is insufficiently responsive, too directive or manipulative. While this is definitely a minority opinion within our sample group, it highlights the feeling, which many students express, that assistance should reinforce a student's sense of independence, of being able to make judgements for oneself, rather than being entirely reliant on others to decide what is or is not appropriate.
† La manipulation psychologique est frequente par les intervenants du service d'integration des personne handicapees et par certaines personnes ressources (lecteurs, accompagnateurs, preneurs de notes). Ceciti/Dificience visuelle; Universiti, QC
Inability to contact service personnel, to receive individual attention is a problem for students. Most recognise this as a function of limited resources:
† Le service aux etudiant-e-s handicapes. I1 etait temps que l'administration change car le personnel N'AVAIT PAS LE TEMPS NI LA PATIENCE de s'occuper de certains besoins. Quand on appelait, un gentil repondeur prenait le message la plupart du temps. De plus, la personne responsable etait surchargee de travail et impatiente a l'exces. Ckciti/Dkfzcience visuelle; Universiti, QC
† Not enough people to help in the Special Needs Office. They can only help so much and provide help to so many people at a time. It is overcrowded. Blind/Visually impaired; College, ON
At smaller institutions, where students with disabilities are less numerous, the ability to provide individual attention and to ensure that students needs receive some attention is recorded as a plus by many service providers. In the absence of a wide range of services generally available at larger institutions for larger populations of students, service providers at small institutions testify to the fact that personal attention and a flexible attitude towards a student's needs can resolve many problems.
† Individual attention - we have very few students with disabilities on campus, and are a small campus, so can provide individual services. SP, College, MB
† Le college est assez petit de sorte que les agents d'admission, les responsables de programme savent qui est repondant pour les eleves handicapes et referent les nouveaux eleves des qu'ils les rencontrent la premiere fois. SP, Collige, QC
† Small size of college allows for personal attention to students' specific needs. SP, College, A B
† Considerant le fait que nous sommes me petit college dans une region semi-rurale, nous avons tres peu d'eleves handicapes qui requirent des services speciaux d'aide. C est le service de prise de notes (le seul) qui est presentement offert et dispense au niveau de l'assistance academique comme telle. Ce service semble repondre vraiment a des besoins specifiques de deux de nos eleves actuellement. SP, Cegep, QC
† We are a small, friendly institution. Students with disabilities seem to find it a comfortable environment for study and participation. SP, University, MB
Some students also recorded that the small size of their institution was a successful feature in terms of its accessibility.
† The instructors and staff are supportive of students. The small class sizes and personal interaction is probably the best aspect of attending this institution. Medical Disability; College, BC
† This is a small campus but I have noticed that the administration goes out of its way to accommodate students with disabilities even though it is so small. Other- Neurological; College, B C
Of course, not all students can or will want to attend small institutions, nor will they necessarily find the services they need at such institutions.
† [The College] did not have any of the adaptive aids I needed and my success was due in large part to the fine support staff there. BlindIVisually impaired; College, MB
† [The College] doesn't have braille equipment for the visually impaired. They lack a lot of equipment for the visually impaired. Learning Disability; College, ON
Size may also have less to do with the availability of certain services than the type of institution a student attends. One student attending a small college and taking courses at a medium-sized university noted that in comparative terms the services of the small college were more extensive:
† Scribing for exams is available at [The College] but not at [The University]. [The University] needs to be open to offering services that are available at the high school and college level. Learning Disability; College (also attending Universityj, BC
Individual attention and flexibility in accommodating students will not resolve all needs, but it should be noted that small institutions that lack extensive services and facilities because they do not have the resources to provide them are not necessarily prevented from finding ways to accommodate students with disabilities. A commitment to accessibility on the part of the institution appears to be very important in this regard just as it is in larger institutions.
In addition to providing integrative direction, assessment and advocacy, there are a wide range of services that disability service offices may provide. At some institutions, specialist services in the areas of mental health, occupational therapy and others are included as part of the disability service office's array of programming.
† Special Services to Persons with a Disability - offers a broad range of supports and services, psychologists, OT, counsellors available to support students - studentcentred. SP, University, ON
† Once a week a psychiatrist is available at [The College] for students with mental health disabilities, covered by OHIP. Also once a week an M.D. who specializes in adults with attention deficit disorder and Turrettes sees students. Both are very busy. SP, College, ON
Disability service offices also commonly take responsibility for classroom relocation; the arrangement of rooms and times for examinations when a student needs accommodation; the arrangement of interpreter services; and/or assistance with grants for special devices and equipment. Some also include the provision of adaptive technology and equipment; administration of learning/academic support services (e.g. note-taking); and/or provision of talking books and alternative format material among the many services they administer. Students and service providers both mention these as aspects of successful service provision:
† This centre is very helpful in supervising exams. Blind/visually impaired; University, Atlantic Canada
† Examinations assistance and note takers are very easy to get. These services are provided through [The Centre]. Mobility impaired; University, Atlantic Canada Referral to outside services such as VRS and Adult Services SET-BC. Mobility impaired, Learning Disability; College, BC
† Ability to refer for funding to VRDP to assist students in obtaining services they are entitled to and often not aware of. SP, College, AB
† Office for Learning/Physical Disability; provides access to materials needed like books on tape. Mental Health Disability; University, ON
At other institutions, some of these services are provided under the rubric of learning support services. These offices focus on extending learning-related services to students with disabilities. Such services also receive positive endorsement from students.
† The Learning Centre offers a full range of service to students with disabilities of all kinds. I haven't heard any complaints about their services. Personally, I would not be able to complete my studies successfully without the note-taking and test accommodation services. Other-Agility; College, ON
† Learning Support Services have helped me and others to realize our greater potential with the services they provide. Learning Disability; College, AB
† Learning Centre -- Directs students to where services can be accessed and helps them as much as possible to obtain services. Mobility impaired; College, ON
† The Education Centre provides excellent service for students with disabilities. I was able to extend final exam periods, get private room to complete my examinations at my convenience. Deaf/Hard of hearing; University, Atlantic Canada
† Learning Assistance Centre -- People who try to keep me focused and on track and find me help when needed. Learning Disability, Mental Health Disability; College, SK
† I think our Learning Support Services area is a very useful support. Students seem to benefit greatly from the services and feel quite comfortable going to LSS. SP, College, ON
Students also frequently mentioned the importance of counselling services (both academic and personal) as important features of accessibility.
† The accessibility of student counselling, for both disabled and other students. The large range of services available cover areas ranging from academic concerns to personal issues (ie. stress management, grief counselling). Other-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; University, ON
† Counselling Services -- Being faced with an environment that does not quite understand you is a frustrating thing. Counselling services has been a great help to let me vent those frustrations and also has shown me how to take those things that cause me the most stress and turn them into positive challenges instead of negative. Learning Disability; University, MB
† Counselling -- If it was not for a counsellor, I would not still be in school. I have learned how to understand myself and others. I also would not know what to do with my life if it wasn't for counselling. Learning Disability; College, AB
† The counselling centre. The network of counsellors and staff provide a wide range of individual and group services in a wide variety of areas. On a number of occasions, I have benefitted from their support and feel that it is a valuable part of the university which more students should make use of. BlindWisually impaired; University, Atlantic Canada
Thus, while students prefer to have access to services that are responsive to their disability related needs, they do not always need to receive services through the auspices of a disability service office. The placement of certain services such as counselling seems less important than their availability and the assurance that such services will be "disability-sensitive" even if they are provided as part of a service that includes students with and without disabilities.
Service offices that are typically outside the ambit of disability service provision were also recognised as providing services that constituted the most successful features of accessibility. Although these kinds of services were not frequently the object of comment, disability-sensitive service provision in these instances was rated highly:
† Special Registration Services -- I've attended one college and another university before attending [The University]. [The University's] Disability Services has worked with staff to create a hassle-free, low run around registration for students with disabilities. Mobility impaired; University, ON
† The Financial Aid Office gives priority to students with disabilities. Learning Disability; University, A tlantic Canada
† Student Awards Service -- The people are amazing. They made my year. Care, respect, unlimited help and support. Without them I would not have gone to postsecondary school. [The College] is the only school I have seen where it is done so well. Learning Disability; College, ON
† Registrar's Office - it is most accommodating to all students and are very concerned about helping individuals with disabilities in accessing programs and education. SP, College, ON
Library services were also frequently counted as successful features of accessibility by both students and service providers. Special Needs Librarian -- She is always accessible to get research help, with SN room and equipment. Blind/Visually impaired; College, ON
† Library -- Librarian was so helpful in accommodating my needs. Medical; College, ON
† Bibliotheque: Je sais qu'ils ont tout le matkiel necessaire pour les aveugles, entre autres. 11s ont beaucoup de materiel pour faciliter le travail des handicapes. Surditd/Personne malentendante; Universiti, QC
† The library staff were really fabulous in their willingness to get books off the shelf and sort through reference material. Extremely important for upper year students. Mobility impaired; University, ON
Students more frequently noted that physical accessibility of libraries was a problem, although occasionally aspects of service provision were designated as "least successful" features:
† Library staff -- They should understand that people in wheelchairs have feelings and that they shouldn't be made to feel like a burden. Mobility Impairment, Learning Disability; College, ON
† Library has no extended loans for people with learning disabilities. Learning Disability; University, QC
If disability accommodations and services are to be an institution-wide "(shared) responsibility," students and service providers need to work to convince all campus service offices to consider service provision from the standpoint of students with disabilities.
B. Academic Accommodation
Academic accommodation, especially extended exam time, was an area of critical importance for students. As noted in Chapter 2, most of the respondents made use of such services. Moreover, a large proportion of students from all disability type categories reported that these were services they needed. Student respondents frequently included various types of accommodation as successful features of accessibility. For the most part, students identified extended exam time specifically, but they also indicated why they felt accommodations were important:
† The awareness that I can be open with professors, rather than having to ask for every detail to avail myself of the conditions in which my abilities can be realized. Learning Disability; University, ON
† I am graded with the accommodations, not with them held against me. I got an A but only because I was able to get special accommodations. I am able. I just work in a chfferent way. Lemning Disability; University, ON
In discussing extended exam time, students also indicated that being able to write in privacy and the attendant ability to concentrate were important components of the accommodation. Somewhat less frequently they mentioned the provision of a computer for composing essay responses:
† Special Services: Exam and test taking stalls -- I couldn't get by without use of computer and extra time. Learning Disability, University, ON a Private rooms to write a test in. Makes it easier to concentrate. Mobility impaired, Learning Disability; College, ON
† Accommodations for writing in a separate room for tests and exams if required. This respects the various needs of students and their writing habits. Learning Disability; University, ON
† Exam writing accommodations -- I get the extra time and the privacy needed. Learning Disability, Mental Health Disability; College, SK
† The accommodations for exams and the use of computers for essays during the exams. [...I I need a separate room for tests and freedom from background noise to concentrate. Learning Disability; University, ON
† Alternative format exams were mentioned much less frequently, and one student indicated that payment for the service was a least successful aspect of accessibility. Paid for oral exam. Service should be covered by special needs. Learning Disability, Medical Disability; College, ON
† [The University's] Disability Services -- Has helped me greatly in terms of accessible formats for exams. This service while not very successful in improving physical access for me has done what they can for me. Mobility impaired; University, ON
Formulas for calculating extended time appear to vary and constitute a problem for some students. One student in response to a question earlier in the survey (Appendix Three) indicated dissatisfaction and confusion with the way a standard time was interpreted. Other service providers indicated that extensions to exam time were calculated on an individual basis, taking the student's specific disability into account. A list of standard accommodation times for different disabilities is suggested by the student, but factors other than disability type, such as program content and type of test may be taken into account when setting extended time. Some institutions appear to have opted for a standard formula, but what might constitute common practice is not clear from the responses. At least one student regretted the lack of disability-specific accommodations policies.
-Extra time to write exams/tests. I can write a 2 hour test in 2.5 to 3 hours if I need it. Learning Disability; College, ON
† Prolongation pour examen: + 113 du temps regulier. Politique d'examens adaptes au SIPH. I1 y a des salle individuelles et supervision. On peut aussi s'arranger avec les profs pour faire exarnen a la maison (regoit par courrier et renvoit par courrier en mme temps que les autres (ou pas faire). D.4ficience motrice; Universite, QC
† Very poor formula to calculate extended time at our school. Before I arrived here, I thought that all students with ADD could receive at least time and a half for exams (that's what I'd always read in books). Here I had to show them I really needed time and a half. "Standard" ADD accommodations include stopwatch time, i.e. interrupted time with permission to take breaks whenever you want, which is helpful but alone is not enough since having your attention wander is not always a conscious process. Also, taking an official break in itself disrupts your concentration. Perhaps having NEADS supportlprovide "standard" accommodations guidelines for various disabilities would be helpful. Learning Disability; University, QC
† Manque d'aide au plan academique qui pourrait &re adapte au handicap de chaque etudiant (ex., grille &evaluation differente selon le handicap). Deficience motnce, Deficience de la parole; Cegep, QC
Students were far less likely to indicate that other forms of accommodation constituted successful features of accessibility and were more likely to record that failure to obtain desired course or program modifications constituted a less successful feature of accessibility:
† Student Services Centre -- Is helpful to an extent. People are willing to help but fall short in making changes in program development. Learning Disability; College, SK
† Time limit for course completion -- I may be short one or two classes when I've reached my deadline and therefore won't be allowed a diploma after that deadline even if I can pick up these classes. Learning Disability, Mental Health Disability; College, SK a Program doesn't want to have a nursing student with a physical condition that prevents my full participation in clinical rotations 3 days in a row. Medical Disability; College, AB
Many service providers regarded developed policy and procedures on accommodations as among the most successful features of accessibility at their institutions, although the content of policy and whether this covers program requirements, as well as course content and evaluation accommodations is not clear.
† Academic Accommodations Policy - clearly outlines the academic accommodations process, roles and responsibilities on the part of both the students, the instructor and the institution - outlines appeal mechanism - provides clear parameters. SP, University, AB
† Academic Accommodation Access - including assessments, documentation and comprehensive system for receiving accommodations (extra time; equipment; alternative format) for tests and exams. SP, University, MB
† Our senate policy works very well and is almost unanimously supported by academic and administrative staff. It allows individualized accommodation initiatives. SP, University, MB
† Academic accommodations particularly exam accommodations. We have welldeveloped documented procedures that assist us in providing effective accommodations. SP, College, A B
In some instances, the service provider indicated that accommodation was still very much dependent on the attitudes of departments, faculties and instructors. In some institutions the transformation of attitudes on this issue is not complete and ingrained attitudes about the necessity of preserving uniform forms of evaluation remain unchanged. At least one service provider, recorded that the transformation appeared to be in effect and that this constituted a successful feature of accessibility:
† The willingness of certain departments, faculties, and instructors to look at individual need of some students with disabilities, and adapt programs to enhance student access and success. SP, University, MB Attempting to determine what constitute reasonable and appropriate accommodations for students with different types of disability was a problem noted by at least one service provider:
† Determining reasonable accommodations for and responding effectively to students with chronic medical andlor mental illness concerns, particularly with respect to classroom attendance and time lines. SP, College, AB
Students also noted a variety of problems with the way academic accommodations were administered and how faculty tended to respond to these:
† A chaque cours on doit negocier la periode prolonger d'examen et indiquer a nouveau nos besoins aux professeurs. CecittYDdficience visuelle; Collige, QC
† Evaluation of exams and courses -- Certain teachers exhibit bias toward those who are slow or hard to teach. Yet they tell me I have proven knowledge of the subject. Also tests include questions that don't make sense or ask the question in a way that's hard to identify what's being asked or what's wanted for an answer. Confronting the instructors has proven useless. Learning Disability, Mental Health Disability; College, SK
C. Services to Students with Learning Disabilities
One aspect of service provision that has changed dramatically over the past ten years is the accommodation of students with learning disabilities. A large proportion of student respondents to the survey reported a learning disability. Success stories were less frequent in this area although at least one school had developed special expertise in the area and could record its learning disabilities service unit as a most successful feature of accessibility at the institution:
† [The Centre] is our most successful service for students with learning disabilities. Its staff are very well trained, its funding is relatively stable and its range of services is comprehensive. SP, University, A tlantic Canada
More frequently, students received advice on their learning problems through a general learning support unit or a disability resource centre and both students and service providers tended to record this as a successful feature of accessibility:
† Our Learning Centre. This dept. has a lot of options to help students deal with their work load. Learning Disability; College, ON
† Learning Disability Resource Centre -- Without it I would be failing and doing poorly. Learning Disability; College, ON
However, service providers often admitted that providing services in this instance was a least successful feature of accessibility because resources and awareness were not firmly established:
† More understanding and clarity needed regarding accommodation for LD students. SP, College, A B
† Learning disabled students have been most difficult to serve - partly from awareness perspective and partly because no academic support program existed. If the pilot program established this year continues, this area will improve. SP, University, MB
† Lack of services/programs for students with learning disabilities - the campus offers a large adult basic education program. We tend to get mature students who were not successful in school generally because of some kind of learning disabilityldifficulty. There is inadequate supportlin-service for instructors on strategies for teaching these students. SP, College, BC
In Quebec, where no financial resources are accorded for the accommodation of students with learning disabilities, the process of instituting appropriate programming has been ad hoc and in some instances is non-existent. While some service providers in Quebec have been more proactive in this regard, the difficulty of stretching resources to accommodate a potentially large clientele has doubtless limited the extent of these efforts:
† Aucune service n est mis en place actuellement pour les etudiants ayant des troubles d'apprentissage. Le Ministere de l'education ne reconnait pas cette deficience mais la reconnaissance sGrement viendra pour la prochaine annee. I1 faudra instituer services specifiques. SP, Universitk, QC
At one Ontario college, a service provider reported that the process of advocacy on behalf of the student begins with admissions:
† We have an agreement with Admissions - when student has current documentation about a learning disability, counsellor verifies our assessment summary form. We meet with the chair of that program to discuss why candidate would be successful given appropriate accommodations (see attached). SP, College, ON
This appears to be a unique approach. The same college provides assessments, recommendations and equipment purchase services:
† Excellent assessments for students with learning disabilities are available through our centre. Recommendations are made for college success and accommodations. Equipment is purchased through the bursary for students with disabilities. Services provided by our centre. SP, College, ON
Assessment and advice on learning strategies are provided at many schools. This does not preclude, however, the necessity of documentation from an external source, often a costly procedure for those with learning disabilities. As service provider responses to questions on documentation attest (Appendix Two), students with learning disabilities are almost always required to provide documentation, sometimes of a very extensive nature. When documentation is insufficient, the student bears the cost and as might be anticipated this will be perceived as a less successful feature of accessibility:
† Communication between secondary school and university; had to be re-tested for learning disability in order to be recognized at university at my own expense. Learning Disability; University, ON
Learning disabilities are not homogeneous and thus the strategies that may work for some students will not work for all. Some students reported success with specific forms of software (although financing the purchase of software appears to be a problem for many students):
† Use of Language Master to support spelling disability. Learning Disability; College, AB
† Financial department lacks brains. I had to hand in 3 bursary application letters before they would buy a Franklin Spellchecker, which I use and will be using until I'm 100. Learning Disability; College,ON
Many students with learning disabilities do indicate that using voice-activation software is useful and consequently express frustration at their lack of access to machines with voice capabilities:
† Not enough computers with voice. Learning Disability; University, QC
Confusion about what software would assist students with learning disabilities is expressed by many students and at least one service provider.
† We have been looking into specialized software for students with learning disabilities and have not found a good one. We would like suggestions!. We do not work with students on generic study skills software we have for all students. SP, College, AB
† I wish they had software available for LD students which could help enhance their basic skills, like writing, or improve reading skills and speed. I m thinking in particular of dyslexic students. Learning Disability;University, ON
Research exists in this area and clearly some students and service providers have found ways of approaching the problem. Some method for exchanging this kind of information is necessary. More difficult perhaps is the design of appropriate instruction strategies and the communication of these to the people who could use them.
† Learning Assistance Centre -- They provide tutors for those with learning disabilities. They take anyone with a high enough average or who takes the training session. I could be a tutor! Now does that make sense? I'm glad that I have bursary money. Learning Disability; College, ON
Some disciplinary areas appear to be more resistant than others to the inclusion of students with learning disabilities. The following two students make clear that vocational and technical training, which typically relies on practitioners to teach, constitutes a problem area for those with learning disabilities.
† In the technical area, instructors are people from the field they specialize in and have no knowledge of appropriate instruction or organization for lectures, or appropriate development for people with learning disabilities. Learning Disability; College, SK
† Dental and school staff are not very qualified to help students with learning disabilities. They are not used to teaching in a different way. They do not have the knowledge of learning disabilities. I feel they should be taught and it should be essential to becoming a teacher. Learning Disability; College, ON
D. Adaptive Technology
Numerous respondents indicated that improvement in adaptive technology and its availability provides students with a valuable means of completing their work:
† Improvements in large print computers and utilization of PCs in general. Makes it easier for students with visual impairments to complete their studies. Blindi'Visuali'y Impaired; University, ON
Moreover, the ease of availability of adaptive technology can reduce the strain on other resources and give students independent means of resolving research and communication difficulties. As one student indicated, there are ways around the lack of adaptive equipment, but this can mean greater concentration of human resources:
† The lack of adaptive technology, specifically with regard to computers, is the least successful feature [of accessibility]. In fact, I don't think it exists at [The College] and my ability to succeed was dependent on resourceful staff. Blind/Visually impaired; College, MB
Centralized access to a range of adaptive technology was often cited as a successful feature of access. Whether in a stand-alone centre, housed in the library or in a service office for students with disabilities, the concentration of equipment in one place was seen as a benefit, particularly when it was located in a physically accessible place.
† Computer accessibility -- Special computers for students with disabilities in a separate room, easy to access. DeaJ/Hard of hearing; College, ON
† Special Needs Services -- New section of college, very accessible, bright, wide. Great selection of equipment to help students. BlindWisually impaired; College, ON
-The Adaptive Technology Room allows visually impaired students to read in comfort. BlinaWisually impaired, Mobility impaired; University, Atlantic Canada
As noted in Chapter Two, students who are blind or visually impaired appear to use adaptive technology most frequently and have need of other services such as alternative format texts. The provision of alternative texts on tape, braille or large print format is one area where severe limitations appear to exist. Only one service provider, for instance, indicated that availability of books on tape was an area of success for the institution:
† Talking book production in-house; easy access to services - large volunteer staff. SP, University, BC
Most students who had access to alternative format texts often had to wait while these had been ordered through another institution or through a production service. Sharing of resources appears to be the norm in this instance judging from service provider and student responses to questions about text-book access (Appendix Two). This often means delays and difficulties for many students:
† Getting talking books is very problematic. The staff I have dealt with in this process are, however, very helpful. Learning Disability, Other-Scotopic Sensitivity; University, ON
† Large printltape books -- not available at [my University]; through [other University] only. Blind/Visually impaired; Univevsity, BC
Moreover, more students with learning disabilities are finding books on tape to be useful learning aids, although many are unaware of the benefit books in this format might provide:
† There is no general knowledge of services available to students. Maybe a list of services, equipment, policies and procedures for students. I've been at [The College] for five years and just found out about talking books. Mobility impaired, Learning Disability; College, BC
Alternative format availability is important in relation to adaptive technology because the range of services offered through an adaptive technology centre can include software for (limited) production of alternative format material as well as other specialized software. The need for access to this software is probably driven to some extent by problems in accessing alternative format material.
Linked services, such as access to alternative format materials, are often provided in a library or in a separate area and this received mention as a successful aspect of service provision. One student commented on the fact that certain alternative format services and adaptive equipment were grouped together under "reader" services and that this provided a comprehensive range of accessible services:
† Special Readers Services -- Program which puts texts and other reading materials into accessible formats. This service also provides access to computers that have special features to help people with disabilities write papers, etc. Example: voice input, adjustable desks, large screens, voice output, etc. Mobility impaired; University, ON
Students were less happy with service offices that did not provide comprehensive services or concentrated on some needs while failing to address others adequately:
† The Learning Assistance Centre needs improvement. They seem to cater to intellectual disabilities while services for some physical disabilities are left sorely lacking. They have one raised computer desk, a large print screen and other services for visually impaired. Mobility impaired; University, ON
An adaptive technology centre, because it will attract a variety of students with different learning needs, can also provide a focal point of interaction for students with disabilities. A student and a service provider remarked on this valuable aspect of the concentration of services within one centre:
† Adaptive technology centre: a place to talk with other disabled students; easy access to e-mail and a microwave. Mobility impaired; University, AB
† Technology Centre -state of the art equipment/computer lab/professional support and training. Also acts as meeting placelself-help, peer support environment for students. Feasible loan policy for portable equipment. SP, University, QC
The provision of accessible terminals and other services in general-use computer labs are also valued as features of accessibility. Students mentioned these, and the necessity of Internet access more specifically, as valuable features of access. Concomitantly, lack of access to general computer service is seen as a limitation:
† Our computer labs and Internet setup -- There are lots of computers with Internet access open to all. There are also computers reserved for people with disabilities. Some have large screens, etc. Learning Disability; University, ON
† Computers available on a limited basis. Often there is a wait to use them. Learning Disability; College, SK
† Adaptive technology is only in place on Services for Students with Disabilities computers. Mobility impaired; College, ON
Without provision of training on adaptive equipment and software, such aids may remain unused. Training and assistance are crucial if the equipment is to be used to its fullest potential. Students who were blind or visually impaired frequently mentioned this as an aspect of successful service provision:
† A Adaptive technology rooms in [Library] -- Provides all the equipment I need in one location; It's quiet; Personnel on staff during business hours to assist specifically those in the lab. Blind/visually impaired, Short-tern memory problems; University, ON
† Adapted equipment and training for it. BlinaYVisually impaired, Other-Diabetes; College, A tlantic Canada
Service providers also recognized the importance of training, and were also mindful of the specific needs that students will have and the consequent utility of services focused on assessment and advice. Students need direction to determine what resources on campus are available to them and increasingly wish to purchase software or equipment that they can use off-campus. Providing some direction for those who need it is a successful feature of service provision:
† Adaptive Technology Resource Centre - state-of-the-art hardware and software trainers and technical experts, offers equipment assessment, assistance with selecting/purchasing, training in use. SP, University, ON
† Assistive computer technology service fully equipped lab, in library, assessment and training services, partially cost recovery. SP, College, AB
† Innovative services and training: access to technology and training provided on technology; alternate format training; access to captioning. SP, University, BC
† Access to computers and technology -- Disabled student services establishes what the person's needs are and tries to find appropriate technology to help them. Mobility impaired, Speech impaired, Learning Disability; University, QC
† The head of Special Services has been extremely helpful in getting a computer with special features to help with my limitations. Mobility impaired, Medical Disability; University, ON
Provision of adaptive technology is costly and often institutions must make compromises in terms of its availability. The concentration of such resources in one centre may mean that an outlying campus is unable to provide certain services:
† As a smaller, regional campus we do not have equal access to resources that the larger campus does. i.e. scanner, etc. SP, College, BC
Sharing of resources between campuses and institutions, while an ideal solution in theory, is dependent on the ease of transferability of the resources in question or the students who need to use them. The size of a campus or institution is not a guarantee that students will find adequate resources. Some students were aware that lack of adequate resources in this area was a consequence not just of lack of funding but of lack of commitment to resolving issues of accessibility. In some instances students reported that they were not encouraged to gain access to limited resources:
† The accessible adaptive technology lab is underfunded and in need of new equipment. Money had to be sought from the student body but will not satisfy immediate needs because of no commitment from central administration. Mobility impaired; University, ON
† Inadequate computer technology. There is a total of three stand-alone computer systems for students with disabilities which have older adaptive software and have no Internet access, which is available only during office hours with no training offered. There is no campus-wide initiative to make computer labs accessible what so ever. Blind/Visually impaired; University, QC
† I found at [The University] there is a waiting period for laptop computers. I need one but wasn't offered a chance to be on the list. Multiple Disabilities; University, ON
One way in which access to adaptive technology is being addressed is through provincial governments' allocations directed at institutions and bursary and grants programs directed at students. Unfortunately, the availability of such funds varies from province to province. A positive report from service providers in Quebec and British Columbia is balanced by a negative one from a student in one of the Atlantic provinces:
† Soutien informatiques. Les developpements ont permis l'acquisition de materiel qui facilitent le travail scolaire des etudiants. Les developpements sont recents et ont ete possible griice a des subventions du Ministere de l'education. SP, Universitk, QC
† Specialized equipment, books, etc. provided by a provincially coordinated service so that it isn't too burdensome on individual institutions (financially). Also, better for student - more current technology available. SP, College, BC
† Equipment -- As a result of cost, the Special Needs Office does not offer all the facilities that I had access to at my last [University in] Ontario. This is because the Ontario government provides universities with funds for these services, unlike [this province]. Learning Disability; University, A tlantic Canada
-Students in several provinces have access to funds for equipment purchase but there are limitations on these. Students may be eligible for funds through Vocational Rehabilitation Services (note: program has recently been revamped, and is now called Employment Assistance for People with Disabilities - EAPD) but are not uniformly successful in getting access. Special Opportunity Grants and bursaries for students with disabilities, available in certain provinces, are open to a wider range of students but also come with some restrictions and as noted in Chapter 2, comparatively few respondents had accessed grants programs for students with disabilities in Ontario and Alberta. Problems with such funds are frequently mentioned as less successful features of accessibility:
† L'equipement a la bibliotheque. Pas de decodeur. I1 n y a pas d'aide financiere (m8me si je suis sourde severe, le federal ne me considere plus handicapee m6me si je l'ai ete pendant 1 ans a l'iige de 8 ans. J'ai maintenant 19 am). Surdite/Personne malentendante; Ckgep, QC
† VRDP was the worst program. I required a computer, scanner, printer. They dragged it out for four semesters, then told me that because I was almost done with my schooling, there was no point in providing me with the equipment. When I told them I still had more time, they sent me a thick form that was essentially a "treasure hunt" of names and addresses to be returned by the day it arrived. Never again. Blind/Visually impaired, Dyslexia; College, AB
† Funds I am given for students with disabilities could not be spent as I wished. I was unable to use it to take a computer class or get a laptop. Learning Disability; College, AB
Some service providers evince a commitment to aiding students in sorting through the range of programs for which they may be eligible in terms of financing the purchase of equipment for individual use, and students are appreciative of these efforts and award praise even when the effort fails:
† They still helped even though my funding [request] was not accepted. Learning Disability; College, A B
Significantly, only in Quebec did students indicate that they felt provincial funding programs were a successful feature of accessibility:
E. Academic Assistance: Note Takers
Specific programs of learning or academic support are frequently mentioned by students as successful facets of accessibility, and somewhat less often by service providers. The range of services covered by this term is wide but for the most part student comments concentrated on note taking services. Along with exam accommodation, this appears to be one service area where most students have had some experience. The majority of student respondents evaluated note taking services as good or excellent. Many also reported that this was a successful and essential feature of accessibility at their institutions:
† Education Accessibility. Without this service, I wouldn't be able to attend college, either night courses or during the day. Having my books on tape, oral exams and tests, and a note taker allow me to succeed with independence both in class and out. Mobility impaired, Blind/Visually impaired, Medical Disability; College, ON
† The Learning Centre offers a full range of service to students with disabilities of all kinds. I haven't heard any complaints about their services. Personally, I would not be able to complete my studies successfully without the note-taking and test accommodation services. Other-Agility; College, ON
While students had some very positive things to say about note taking services, some also had problems accessing the service and recorded this as a less successful aspect of accessibility.
† I had to go to an adviser first to get authorized. Took sheet and my schedule to PLT. This department doesn't seem to have a list of note takers handy, so therefore I was 2-4 weeks into the semester before I was assigned a note taker. Because of my disability I usually only take one or two subjects a semester to try to get my credit. This is going to take awhile at this rate, but I'm getting there. It just seems that each semester when I sign up again, it always takes so long to get everything in place. Learning Disability; College, ON
Given the prevalence of their use and the strong demand for such a service, it is perhaps not surprising that bottlenecks occur in obtaining note takers. In response to questions about this and other learning support services (Appendix Three), students provided some additional details. Only two students indicated any success in obtaining lecture notes from an instructor (although providing notes in this way might alleviate some of the need for an extensive network of note takers). Several students also indicated that they recruited their own note takers in class or borrowed notes from others for photocopying, but the desire to be independent in this respect was also apparent. One student recorded as a least successful aspect of accessibility the need for a laptop computer as a way around the problem of recruiting note takers:
† In class note taking, need more laptops. Now I have to try to arrange it myself or just try to get notes down. Other students don't always want to wait while you take their notes to photocopy. Deaf/Hard of hearing, Learning Disability; University, BC.
Note takers are not always volunteers. Some students are able to access bursary funds to pay for such services and some institutions do appear to provide paid note takers and tutors. But it appears that most are volunteers or in-class recruits. Some students who were dissatisfied indicated that volunteer/student note takers were not always helpful and that the system of recruiting volunteers for the task resulted in uneven quality.
† Having a note taker has been very helpful at times - I can't concentrate for very long continuously - but the quality of the helper is luck of the draw. A couple of them have been nasty, which means no note taker for me. A couple were excellent, others were okay. Medical Disability, Other-Chronic Fatigue, Fibmmyalgia; University, BC
† Student note takers are rather impractical. Approximately fifty percent of them are useless, while those that are not may only select information that they think is important -- not what you might think important. Multiple Disabilities; University, ON
† Special Needs -- They use peers for everything (tutors, note takers, readers). They do not allow me to decide what I need. They do not allow me to deal with my bursary the way that is needed (i.e. paid tutors, readers). Learning Disability; College, ON
Note-taking services are quite common and most service providers rate the service as good or excellent. No service providers rated such services as poor. Only a few mentioned this as an area of success, however, and none specifically cited problems with such programs as a less successful feature of accessibility. One service provider cited the "volunteer program" as a problem but whether this refers to recruitment of volunteers or the way in which they may be used is unclear.
Tutoring and peer tutoring was somewhat more frequently mentioned by service providers as a successful feature of accessibility, and students also occasionally ranked this as a successful service. Peer tutors are more likely to be recruited on the basis of familiarity with a specific subject area. One service provider indicated that training in this area was available and another that the success of a peer tutor program was due to the fact that the program was administered.
† Volunteers are trained and used as peer tutors for students with L.D. University, A tlantic Canada
† Peer tutor - because we have staff persons to administer funds, and because it is a recognized service. College, AB
Note takers and peer tutors (paid or volunteer) are regarded most frequently as providing a service that constitutes a successful feature of accessibility. Whether more systematic recruitment, training or assessment would result in a more successful "better" service is not apparent from the comments. Service providers and students need to examine this service together and to define what a better practice might be.
F. Physical Access
Features of physical access were frequently cited by students and service providers as most and least successful aspects of campus accessibility. Physical access covers a host of features and here no strong themes emerge. The wide variety of locales (urban and rural, hilly and flat), climatic conditions (harsh and mild), number and age of buildings, along with the size of the population served mean that idiosyncratic problems of physical access exist at almost every institution.
Service providers at small and large institutions report different kinds of successes:
† Physical accessibility of the campus enhanced by the Access Fund. This fund, costshared between university administration and the student government, provides $100,000 dedicated to improving physical access to the campus each year - tunnels and general campus accessibility. SP, University, ON
† physical accessibility. As a whole, our university is quite accessible for wheelchairs and/or scooters. We have designed special writing tablets in larger lecture theatres for students who use a wheelchair or scooter. SP, University, SK
The establishment of a dedicated access fund, especially one that involves both the general student population and administrators, signals an important commitment. But on a large campus where new elevators or redesigned entranceways may be necessary, large amounts of money will be eaten up very quickly. Large institutions with older buildings often have very severe access problems. As one student from a large institution reports:
† Physical access to buildings inside and outside [is the least successful feature of campus accessibility]. Access is a patchwork effort put forward by the university. Certain areas are accessible, others are not. Elevators are hard to find, if one exists in a building often they only go to certain floors and not others. Entrances that are accessible are at the rear of buildings. Ramps are steep and isolated. There are no emergency buttons for disabled persons in "accessible" washrooms. Snow removal is dreadful. Mobility impaired; University, ON
At smaller institutions where barriers to movement may constitute less of a problem, other problems of access are likely to be present. For students who are deaf or hard of hearing, the lack of TDDtTTY devices constitutes a physical access problem.
† Les services ATS, on n'en avait pas beaucoup de services dans mon college regulier, mais la seule service est au [Cegep ...I. I1 y en avait un ATS publique. mon ecole, je n'en ai pas. J'oblige d'avertir par mon interprete pour appeler quelque chose ou quelqu'un. Surdite/Personne malentendante; GGEP, QC
One aspect of life at post-secondary institutions that students with mobility impairments are often physically excluded from is cultural and social life; and because the locales of cultural and social life (pubs, theatres, lounges) are seen as inessential to the educational enterprise they may not receive the attention of administrative planners. However full integration involves all aspects of life at the post-secondary institution as students note.
† Student Union Building, Movie Theatre -- Because the elevator is not large enough to accommodate my wheelchair, I can't attend movies. Mobility impaired; University, BC
† The installation of an elevator to make athletic areas, student lounges and the pub wheelchair accessible have led to a better integration of disabled students into mainstream college society. Mobility impaired; University, ON
Yet another area from which students with mobility impairments are often excluded is oncampus residences. Only two service providers indicated that this was a successful feature of campus access at their institutions, while neither students nor service providers commented on residences in detailing the least successful features.
† 24-hour Attendant Services Program in residence - program is unique in Canada, allowing students with high levels of care to access university education. SP, University, ON
† Certain Residence Buildings. SP, University, ON
Physical access problems are both common and uncommon. While we have attempted to measure and report on common problems, the variability of the settings in which they occur make it difficult to generalize about what common solutions or better practices might mean. Attentiveness to what the full range of campus life entails and how all students could be safely and fully integrated within it is a challenge that few institutions have met.
G. The Environment
Service providers and students with disabilities work within a system that many students assume is largely indifferent to issues of accessibility. As many students observe, problems of access reflect a lack of funds and a lack of commitment and these are the real failures of campus accessibility.
† Commitment from senior administration for the funds needed to provide more tutoring, computers, learning specialists for students with disabilities. Learning Disability; University, MB
† Financing -- As a result of budget problems and cost, the Special Needs Office receives little support in this area. Our Counsellor works from her own personal budget to ensure students get what they need. Learning Disability; University, Atlantic Canada
Yet at other institutions, students and many service providers acknowledge that some action at the level of senior administration is apparent.
† Policy of administration to encourage people with disabilities to attend. Because this really shows support by the school. Blind/Visually Impaired; University, ON
† Special funding allocated year by year to meet special needs. SP, College, SK
† This university is a small one, and therefore generates more easily a cooperative atmosphere (faculty, administration, students). Also, the President himself is an advocate of accessibility and this filters down. SP, University, A tlantic Canada
Senior level commitment does not, however, erase funding problems:
† Differential levels of awareness, knowledge and commitment to the principles of an accessible learning environment - although strong senior level support - still operating with diminished human and financial resources regarding ability to provide top of the line services. SP, University, AB
For many students with disabilities, the difficulty of challenging the system which they feel marginalizes questions of accessibility looms large. Many feel they lack the skills to advocate for themselves or that they need to have greater connection with students in similar circumstances. They often look to disability resource people for assistance in this regard.
† [The Centre] encourages students to advocate for themselves. Personally, I do. However there are no seminars or courses on self-advocacy and there are students who are uncomfortable advocating for themselves. Teaching students to advocate would be better than simply stating, "Be your own advocate." Other-Loss of fine motor control; University, BC
† A The lack of specific support group, supported by the Centre for Special Services. It is nice to know you are not alone and to share strategies that work for one but maybe not for another. Learning Disability; University, ON
Still other institutions have established disability student groups and this provides a forum for exchanging information and the possibility of speaking to faculty and administration with a group voice.
† [The University] has a student organization which is active in disability issues and is quite successful. Mobility impaired; University, A tlantic Canada
At the same time, many institutions cannot support a disability student group because the constituency is too small or too scattered. College and Cegep respondents to this survey were much less likely than University students to have access to this form of organization. One organization which is more common in Colleges, Cegeps and Universities is the general student organization to which all students should have access. Unfortunately, student respondents to this survey saw very little that was of value in the general students organizations on campus, and those who commented on them generally grouped them as least successful facets of campus accessibility.
† The Student Union does not stimulate student life enough, and really does very little. BlindWisually impaired; University, BC
† The major thing to be done is policy development so that all professors allow all students a fair and equal education. There is no such thing as a disabled student coordinator. This position was deemed unnecessary. In my opinion, it is necessary. The student union was supposed to maintain a disabled student committee, but they have not and so these very important issues are left unaddressed. Mobility impaired; University, ON
† Students Association -- They are more concerned with giving themselves raises and they would rather improve the bar than put money towards our education. We are here to learn, not to drink. Learning Disability; College, AB
Lack of supportive policy with respect to accommodations and services for students with disabilities requires some measure of involvement on the part service providers and students if the idea of access is to be integrated within the post-secondary environment. This necessitates a wider representative structure such as a disability students organization or a general student organization that is inclusive. As one student noted with respect to the most successful feature of access at herhis institution:
† [L'universite] a un esprit militantisme, contestataire. C'est important.
Ccit/Dfiance visuelle; Universite, QC
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