1. What are my roles and responsibilities for teaching a student with a disability?
Accessibility Services are offered at all colleges and universities throughout Ontario. The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities initiated a specific funding envelope in 1989 to assist Ontario post-secondary institutions with their delivery of equitable educational opportunities for students with disabilities in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code.
The student is responsible for self-identifying to Student Accessibility Services (SAS). The accessibility counsellor or advisor then reviews the medical documentation and sets appropriate accommodations. The faculty member is made aware of approved accommodations for students when students provide an accommodation letter from SAS. Accommodations can be classroom based; testing based and/or those that are the responsibility of SAS. Once this accommodation letter is received, faculty members have the responsibility of ensuring that the required classroom and/or testing based accommodations are made available to the student. This ensures equal access to the course material and the opportunity to participate in class. Faculty members are encouraged to contact the Student Accessibility Services office with any questions or concerns. We want to ensure that faculty,the student and SAS work together to identify the most suitable method of accommodation while upholding the integrity of the program.
2. When will I find out if I have a student with a disability in my class?
Outreach and education to secondary school students encouraging early involvement with the accessibility offices at the post secondary level is a priority for SAS. To assist in this process we have developed transition programs to ensure student success. Early connection is especially important for some disabilities, for example the visually impaired, as conversion of textbooks to an accessible format can take several months. However, some students will not connect with the SAS office until they have already started in their program and begin experiencing some difficulty. Whenever the student decides to self-identify to SAS is when the process to alert faculty commences.
3. Is there someone who will support me to adapt my class materials for a student who requires it? Who?
Often the adaptation of learning materials to an accessible format is a simple process that can be easily accomplished by the faculty member, for example saving course documents as PDFs. Should support be required however, SAS is available to facilitate this process through consultation with either the accessibility advisor or the assistive technologist.
4. What are the midterm procedures for students who take their exams in the test centre?
Attached to every accommodation letter that students provide to faculty is a document that outlines the procedure for accommodated testing. Students may choose to write a test/exam either in class or in one of the Test Centres.
For final exams students will be required to sign up online for any exams they wish to write in the Test Centres. Students are encouraged to check their email for all important exam information. Faculty members will receive an email confirmation that a student has registered to write a final exam in the test centre.
6. Who am I allowed to talk to about my challenges teaching this student?
The best person to speak with about teaching challenges is the student as they know better than anyone what works best for him/her and what does not. The accessibility counsellor or advisor is also available to sit in on these meetings to help problem solve. Be aware, however, that the counsellor or advisor is unable to discuss a specific student’s case with the faculty member unless the student has signed a consent form to allow for this.
7. What should I do if a student with a disability disrupts my whole class?
All students are held to a certain standard of conduct and students with disabilities are no exception. Setting clear expectations and rules for in-class behaviour are essential for students' whose disabilities may impact the classroom environment. Should a student be disruptive, faculty members are encouraged to follow their established procedures for managing an in-class disruption. A meeting with the student and his/her counsellor or advisor is a good step towards preventing any further class disruption.