10 Things I Wish I Knew About Accessibility Before Going to Western

A photo of a Western sign at the main gates of campusWritten by: Jalesa Martin, MSc Candidate, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Photo by: Student Experience

1. There are so many resources and supports available.

The main hub for accommodations is Accessible Education (AE). They provide various supports including Note Takers, assistive technology, and accessing a quiet study space. The counselors at AE work with you to find the best supports and help implement them for your courses.

2. There is a mentorship program to help with the transition to Accessible Education.

Western has an Accessibility Mentorship Program that connects first-year students with upper-year students to support the transition to university for students with disabilities or who are registered with Accessible Education. They also collaborate with other mentorship programs including the Society of Mature Students’ Mentorship Program and the Scholars Electives Programs – to allow for an integrated first-year mentorship experience.

3. The difference between the role of Accessible Education and your faculty in Academic Accommodations.

Accessible Education is primarily responsible for setting up accommodations and supports for students with disabilities, and shares these accommodations with your professors regardless of your program and faculty. You must also go through Accessible Education for booking exams with accommodations.

However, when you need accommodations for things such as approving or making up missed exams, classes, or an extension on an assignment, students must go to their faculty Academic Counselling office with documentation to receive an accommodation for that specific course and assessment.

4. There is a transportation service for students with disabilities.

Western’s Accessible Transportation Service is for students with disabilities who need help traveling between university locations. It was extremely helpful, especially on days when my chronic illness would flare up!

You can contact Accessible Education to receive more information.

5. There is an accessibility committee solely dedicated to spreading awareness about accessibility on campus.

As of June 2021, there will be three student-involved accessibility committees at Western University.

1) USC Accessibility Committee

This committee is run by the University Students’ Council and aims to “increase and improve accessibility on campus through advocacy…and make students aware of struggles faced by some students with disabilities.”

2) Student Accessibility Advisory Committee

This committee “provides an opportunity for students with disabilities to inform the work of Student Experience…and ensure that their voice and lived experience are reflected in the design of…supports, programs, and services.”

3) Society of Graduate Students’ Ad-Hoc Accessibility Committee

“Designed to advocate for greater accessibility on campus, to bring SOGS’ online communications up to standard with WCAG 2.1 level A research ways to create closed captioning for live virtual events.”

6. There is a Disability Studies program that teaches a wide variety of perspectives on accessibility.

Kings University College offers a Disability Studies program and courses that all undergraduate students can take. Some of the courses include Disability Sports and Recreation, Understanding Disability Labels, and Bioethics and Disability.

7. Confirming accommodations for new courses each semester is as simple as a few clicks.

Once your accommodations are decided upon for the year, all you have to do is go to the Accommodated Exams website and click to select the courses that you are requesting accommodations for each semester. After that, Accessible Education sends out the request, and your professor is made aware of your approved accommodations for exams, the classroom, and notes for professors and academic counselors.

8. It’s best to set up accommodations before classes start and ESPECIALLY before the exam season.

Accessible Education recommends making an appointment before classes to ensure seamless accommodation for midterm and fall exams. It will also ensure that you get the supports that you need right away!

9. There are many financial supports available – you just need to apply! These financial supports may include:

10. It will take time to navigate my identity as a student with a disability on Western’s campus.

Navigating my identity as a student with a disability in high school was significantly different when compared to university. The campus was bigger, it was my first time in a new city, and I wasn’t exactly sure what accommodations would look like in each course. However, through the support of my friends, Accessible Education, and joining the USC Accessibility Committee, I was able to thrive as a student with a disability at Western.

Check out more accessibility related content!

The Tea on the USC Accessibility Survey

Listen to the episode of Accessibili-tea where Ashton and Jalesa talk with folks from the USC about their Accessibility survey results.

The Tea on Project Echo

Check out this post to learn more about Project Echo!

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