Enhancing Accessibility in Post-Secondary Education Institutions
Transition and Orientation Sessions / Courses
Many students, as well as their families and supporters, feel that preparatory courses for post-secondary education are beneficial. These courses can be as simple as a 1 day orientation session or a more intensive transition course spanning a few days or even weeks. The following are some recommendations from PSE institutions on creating effective transition courses for students with disabilities.
- While many institutions offer programs specifically for students with learning disabilities (the most common type of disability among students), consider providing a general course which highlights disability services for all disability types. Another alternative is to design courses or material for specific target groups, such as those for students who are blind or partially sighted, or who have mobility issues and provide them on an individual or by request basis.
- Make courses available to all students with disabilities regardless of where they plan to attend university. Keep sessions open to returning students who might need a refresher on the services or who might benefit from the discussions.
- Transition courses for students with disabilities can also be held in conjunction with general transition/orientation sessions for all students. This way, students who may not be sure if disability services would be right for them, or who may be hesitant to come to a disability specific orientation, are more likely to participate.
- If numbers are not large enough to warrant a large scale transition course for students with disabilities, consider partnering with larger institutions nearby and help co-ordinate a joint transition program.
- If it is not possible to provide transition programming for students with disabilities, provide links and information on external services that do.
What to Include
The following are some suggestions from PSE Institutions on how to structure a dynamic transition event.
- Provide informative speakers such as successful graduates with disabilities offering strategies for success, current students offering their transition experience, community organizations speaking about available services, school champions offering support and encouragement, etc.
- Facilitate panel discussions which could include current students and/or recent graduates, service providers from a variety of student service offices, professors / teachers, etc.
- Offer breakout or roundtable sessions to facilitate discussion among prospective students. Current students, recent grads, faculty and staff could participate in these sessions.
- Provide a student meeting with key personnel, and an on- campus tour of relevant services which highlights the accessibility features of the school.
- Include an introduction to available assistive technology on campus. Include an overview of what’s available, what it does, and how to access it. Provide hands on training for students who may not be familiar with all devices.
The following are some of the key topics that PSE institutions feel need to be addressed during a transition course for students with disabilities.
- Differences between high school and university/college for students with a disability and how to be successful in a PSE environment.
- Self awareness and self-advocacy.
- Accommodations, services and personal strategies to meet academic, social, physical and emotional needs.
- Determining strengths and weaknesses.
- Academic and study skills including note-taking strategies, time management, organization skills, and critical reading and writing skills, etc.
- Campus supports and library resources.
- Community and/or Government based supports.
- Academic and exam accommodations.
- Documentation requirements and expectations for submission.
- Assistive technology options and applications.
- Campus life, including social areas and events, accessible transportation and accessible housing.