Offices for Students with Disabilities
Educational institutions have a legal obligation to provide reasonable accommodations that promote equity for people who have disabilities. To adhere to their legal obligation, provincial/territorial governments provide publicly funded colleges and universities with operating funds to set up special services for students with disabilities.
Note: Ontario colleges and universities use different names for their office which provides services to students with disabilities. Many of the names of these offices use the word ‘disability’ or ‘accessibility’, such as Disability Services Office or Accessibility Centre. The word ‘accessibility’ is becoming more commonly used, as it reflects that the emphasis should be on the environment rather than the individual to adapt and become accessible.
For the purpose of this guide, we have chosen to refer to the disability/accessibility centres as the “Office for Students with Disabilities” or OSD. We’ve chosen this name as it is clear and descriptive of the purpose and role of this office. The specific name and location of the centre at each college or university can be found on the school’s website in the Colleges and Universities sections.
WHAT KIND OF SERVICE DOES THE OSD PROVIDE?
Staff at Offices for Students with Disabilities assist students in a variety of ways. Given that each student’s needs are unique, services and accommodations are established on an individual basis and based on the documentation of the student’s disability. A complete list of services and required documentation will either be available on the website of each post-secondary institution or by contacting them directly.
WHAT ARE THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE OSD?
- Assess requests for accommodations, on the basis of each student’s submitted documentation
- Recommend and provide reasonable and appropriate accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or support services for students with disabilities
- Provide information regarding policies, procedures, rights and responsibilities to students with disabilities in accessible formats upon request
- Assist students in communicating with faculty (when needed) about their disability and required accommodations
- Maintain confidentiality of all information pertaining to a student’s disability
WHAT IS THE REGISTRATION PROCESS AT THE OSD?
- When possible, contact the OSD before classes start to make a face-to-face appointment
- Submit all required documentation to the OSD prior to the appointment (according to the school’s policies)
- Attend the appointment to create an accommodation plan based on the submitted documentation
WHAT DOCUMENTS WILL THE OSD REQUIRE?
Each institution will have its own policies and procedures regarding the required documentation to show proof of a disability. Staff at the OSD can assist students in obtaining up-to-date documentation or assessments as needed. Be sure to check with the OSD at each institution to determine specifically what documentation requirements that they have.
Some common requirements are:
- Learning disabilities: a recent psychoeducational assessment (conducted within the last 3-5 years)
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): a diagnosis by a psychologist, psychiatrist, or physician with appropriate training in neuropsychological disorders
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): a medical form or letter from a qualified specialist or a psycho-educational assessment
- Physical and medical disabilities, and mental health disorders: a medical form or letter from a qualified specialist indicating the student’s diagnosis, limitations, and recommendations for academic accommodations
- Deaf or hard-of-hearing: an audiologist report
- Blind or low vision: CNIB registration number