Back to School : Accessibility Plans 101
Are you heading back to the classroom this fall? Universities and Colleges all have Accessibility Services departments for students to prepare for the duration of their studies. This first step begins with connecting with the accessibility coordinator to determine the process to ensure accommodations are in place. Often during the first initial meeting and throughout the year, students will meet with the coordinator to follow through with a plan and provide an outline of what is required.
It is the post‐secondary educational institution’s duty to accommodate students with disabilities. Accommodating students with disabilities involves making adjustments or alternative arrangements in both the physical environment and the educational environment to ensure that it does not create learning or physical barriers that would prevent students with disabilities from accessing educational or other services provided by post‐secondary institutions.
Plan before you ask for accommodation
- Review the institution’s policy for accommodating students with disabilities and the established processes for creating an accommodation.
- Develop a set of options for accommodating your specific disability. This will likely require you to think about how the barriers or functional limitations you face in the post‐secondary environment.
- Have research and resources available to help the accommodating person or institution put the accommodation in place.
Make your request
- Make your request for accommodation at the earliest reasonable opportunity. The amount of time that is reasonable will depend on individual circumstances. Make a request as soon as you can. Your school may have a written form for requesting accommodation.
- Discuss the type of accommodation you need with your instructor or a staff member who is in charge of a particular program or service.
- Discuss any further information the school will need to understand your accommodation request.
Making an accommodation plan
- As soon as your request has been approved, you may need to meet with the disability service provider or the person the institution has designated to coordinate your accommodation request. You may also consider discussing your accommodation needs with another resource at the post‐secondary institution.
- Make sure there is an accommodation plan in writing. Circumstances may change, and accommodation plans may need to be modified. Keep the lines of communication open.
Some post‐secondary institutions may not have a designated disability service provider. In these cases, students may want to consult directly with instructors or connect with student representatives or the dean of their faculty.
Here is a video produced by the University of Toronto sharing their Accessibility Services process. Click here