Enhancing Accessibility in Post-Secondary Education Institutions
Social interactions between students are an important aspect of campus life in PSE institutions as they allow students to make new friends, join groups or clubs, and participate in school events. Having a healthy social life is essential for all students including students with disabilities. However, students with disabilities may be prevented from fully participating in social events and activities if barriers exist.
The following are steps which some PSE institutions have recommended to help ensure students with disabilities are able to fully participate in the social community at college/university:
- Have a centre specifically for students with disabilities to promote inclusion and the removal of barriers. The centre could also organize social opportunities, provide information on available services for students with disabilities, and act as a forum for disability issues on campus. This centre could also work as a smaller part of a larger group which promotes inclusion for a variety of underrepresented groups.
- Support students with disabilities who wish to join social groups, clubs or communities. Creating an online community can be a safe and convenient way for students with disabilities to interact, socialize, and organize events.
- Create a method for students with disabilities to advocate for disability issues by, for example, including representation on the student union or government or by creating a liaison service to advocate on their behalf.
- Events that are run by the college/university should be held in accessible locations and include accommodations such as interpreters or captioning services.
- For events that are being held off-campus, accessible transportation should be provided.
- Anyone organizing an event that is not run by the college/university but is being held on campus should be directed to a centralized location for detailed information on how to make their event accessible. This could include a website with a guide for planning accessible events, an accessibility checklist with reference to the appropriate resources, or contact information for an accessibility coordinator who would be able to review their event plans and provide advice, etc.
- Even where accessibility is not mandatory, make efforts to promote it among clubs, groups and teams.
- Promote disability awareness and inclusion through workshops and campus wide events for staff, faculty and students.
- Reserve accessible residence space for students with disabilities and provide assistance services to ensure that students with disabilities can fully participate in residence life.