Enhancing Accessibility in Post-Secondary Education Institutions
Living on or near PSE campus can be a convenient way for students to access their classes and can also provide a valuable social experience for students. This is why considerations should be made for students with disabilities who may require accommodations, but still wish to take advantage of the benefits of student housing.
The following are some best practices developed by PSE institutions regarding accessible housing for students with disabilities.
- Develop an accessibility committee for college/university housing. Smaller institutions may wish to develop an accessibility committee for the entire school with housing being a focal area.
- As housing applications generally need to be reviewed for eligibility, it is important for students with disabilities to submit their applications and supporting documentation early. Include a space on the college/university admission application asking whether the applicant requires special considerations for housing and, if so, the types of supports needed.
- On the housing application, direct students to an accessible housing website which details what housing accommodations are available for students with disabilities, who is eligible, and what documentation is necessary to apply. This allows students with disabilities to prepare early so, upon acceptance, they are able to quickly send in their application. Applications could also be accelerated through on-line processes.
- Information should be made available about any off-campus housing that is both accessible and within a reasonable distance from campus.
- For colleges/universities with multiple campuses and multiple residences, it is important to offer accessible rooms in all locations so that students with disabilities are able to be accommodated in a location that is most convenient to their educational needs. This also promotes inclusion by not segregating students with disabilities in certain locations.
- As obtaining nearby accessible housing and/or accessible transportation can often be difficult for students with disabilities, consider allowing priority access to housing for those with documented severe disabilities.
- Also consider allowing students with severe disabilities to remain living on-campus throughout the entire year and the duration of their program.
- Many on-campus residences require a minimum course load. As students with disabilities often must take a reduced course load for disability-related reasons, make an exception for students with a documented severe disability.
- The safety and security of students in residence is very important. Install visual and audio alarm systems in all residences. Residence services should keep a list of those requiring special assistance in case of emergency.