Lifting the Barriers on Disability

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University of Windsor

The University of Windsor attracts students, faculty and staff from around the world who are ready to make a real difference. Together, we create a close-knit community dedicated to lifelong learning, engaged teaching, original research and personal discovery. (source)

 

Disability Services

Located in stately Dillon Hall on the main campus, Student Disability Services at the University of Windsor is committed to creating equal access to higher education for all academically qualified students with disabilities. We strive to foster an inclusive climate of mutual respect and understanding on the UWindsor campus, so that all students are welcome and able to contribute to the fabric of the university community. We are further committed to the promotion of heightened awareness, on campus and in the community, about the responsibility we all share to provide equal access to higher education for students with disabilities. (source)

 

Academic Resources

The term accommodation refers to any service, equipment, or arrangement that is put in place to support a student with a disability in the university setting. An appropriate accommodation does not provide an unfair advantage, but rather minimizes the barriers caused by the disability. Meeting our shared 'duty to accommodate' ensures that students have a fair and equal opportunity to learn and to demonstrate that learning in a way that respects individual learning styles, differences, and needs.

Accommodations are highly individualized and are determined on a case by case basis, based on the specific individual needs and recommendations included in each student's documentation.

Classroom accommodations are adjustments provided to ensure that students with disabilities have fair and equal access to the curriculum and an opportunity to process classroom information in a way that respects and addresses differences in learning styles, strengths, and needs. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Assistance from a note taker
  • Use of a laptop for note taking
  • Preferential seating (usually at the front of the class)/ Ergonomic modifications
  • Provision of written material in advance (overheads, PowerPoint presentations, lecture notes)
  • Textbooks or articles in alternate format (tape, Braille, large type, PDF, or other electronic text)
  • Use of an audio recording device

Examination accommodations are adjustments to standard exam conditions that lessen the impact of the disability without fundamentally altering the nature or security of the examination or providing unfair advantage. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Extended time to write exams
  • A quiet, distraction free environment in which to write
  • Alternative format for exams (i.e., oral, take-home, or electronic versions)
  • Assistance from a reader or a scribe
  • Allowances for spelling/grammatical errors, with grading focus on content
  • Use of a computer for essay exams
  • Use of assistive technology on exams (including magnification devices). Please not that the use of assistive technology/software as an approved exam accommodation can only be authorized after students have demonstrated proficiency in its use

Non-Academic Resources

Students Requiring Special Accommodations

Residence Services strives to accommodate students who require special accommodations based on individual need. In order to facilitate this process, please review the following guidelines and ensure that the appropriate forms have been completed and submitted.

Guidelines

If you are a new student and are requesting special accommodations in residence due to a disability please follow the steps listed below:

  1. Read and complete the Assessing Needs Form
  2. Ask your doctor to complete the Medical Certificate Form
  3. Read and complete the Mutual Exchange of Information Form
  4. Return all completed forms to Residence Services

If you are a returning student and are registered with Student Disability Services please submit the following form to the Residence Office in order to ensure your residence accommodations:

Residence Services will not be able to complete a room assignment for students requiring special accommodations until all paperwork has been received. For more information, please contact Residence Services at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 519-253-3000 ext. 3279.

What Type of Documentation is Needed?

A student with a diagnosed disability (whether permanent or temporary) who is seeking academic accommodation through Student Disability Services is required to provide medical documentation which confirms the disability and supports the provision of such accommodations. Each disability type requires different forms of documentation. We provide documentation guidelines for each recognized disability type; however it is recommended that incoming students meet with an advisor for a review of the existing documentation and to determine their individual requirements. Please note that IEP/IPRC documents do not entitle students to accommodation in college or university. For documentation guidelines that are specific to your needs, select one of the following links:

Learning Disabilities

Documentation of a specific Learning Disability must:

  • be based on an assessment conducted within the last three to five years
  • be provided by a licensed psychologist or similarly qualified professional
  • provide a definite diagnosis based on consideration of developmental and psychosocial history, medical and psychological history, academic history, clinical observations, and psychometric test scores
  • include test results from a comprehensive set of psychological tests which includes measures of general intelligence, measures demonstrating a specific neuropsychological deficit, and standardized achievement measures
  • make recommendations and include a rationale for recommended academic accommodations which are clearly linked to the specific learning disability

A NOTE ABOUT IDENTIFICATION AND DIAGNOSIS:

Many students with learning disabilities are identified as "exceptional students" by an Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) in the elementary or high school system. An Individual Education Plan (IEP) may have been developed as the result. The identification as an exceptional student and/or an IEP is NOT the same as a diagnosis of a permanent disability.

In the elementary and secondary system, specific legislation allows for the accommodation of students with an "identification" without the need for a formal diagnosis. However, at the post-secondary level legislation requires that students be formally diagnosed as having a disability. This is done through a psycho-educational assessment.

A prior history of accommodation in high school does not, in and of itself, warrant the provision of similar accommodations in a university setting. The assessment report must demonstrate reasonable evidence that the accommodations requested are required given the nature of the disability. In order for you to be eligible for academic accommodations you must provide us with a comprehensive assessment report that contains the clinical diagnosis of a disability to support your requests.

Although a learning disability is normally viewed as ongoing and lifelong, the severity and manifestations of the condition may change over time. The provision of reasonable accommodations and services is based upon an assessment of the current impact of the learning disability on your academic performance. It is therefore in your best interest to provide recent and appropriate documentation. The assessment must have been completed in the last three years using tests that are reliable, valid, and standardized for use with an adult population. Whenever possible, the most recently normed version of the test should be used. Documentation that is more than three years old will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Adults With Learning Disabilities and Assessment (pdf)

Recommended Practices For Assessment, Diagnosis and Documentation of Learning Disabilities (pdf)

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)

Documentation of AD/HD must:

  • be based on the DSM-IV-TR and comes from a psychologist (C. Psych.), a psychiatrist (M.D.), or a physician (M.D.) with appropriate training in neuropsychological disorders
  • demonstrate the presence of hyperactive-impulsive or inattentive symptoms that cause impairment
  • include an investigation of a family history of ADHD and other educational, learning, physical, or psychological difficulties deemed relevant by the examiner
  • make recommendations and, includes a rationale for, recommended academic accommodations

A NOTE ABOUT IDENTIFICATION AND DIAGNOSIS:

Some students with an attention-deficit disorder are identified as "exceptional students" by an Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) in the elementary or high school system. An Individual Education Plan (IEP) may have been developed as the result. The identification as an exceptional student and/or an IEP is NOT the same as a diagnosis of a permanent disability.

In the elementary and secondary system, specific legislation allows for the accommodation of students with an "identification" without the need for a formal diagnosis. The identification may have been included on the IEP in the area of "learning disability". This designation is NOT the same as a diagnosis of a learning disability, nor is an attention-deficit disorder considered to be a learning disability.

At the post-secondary level legislation requires that students be formally diagnosed as having a disability. For students with attention-deficit disorders this is done through a psycho-educational assessment by a psychologist or psychological associate.

A prior history of accommodation in high school does not, in and of itself, warrant the provision of similar accommodations in a university setting. The assessment report must demonstrate reasonable evidence that the accommodations requested are required given the nature of the disability. In order for you to be eligible for academic accommodations you must provide us with a comprehensive assessment report that contains the clinical diagnosis of a disability to support your requests.

Guidelines for Documentation of Adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder(pdf)

Low Vision/Blindness

Documentation of this disability should:

  • be in the form of a letter from either a physician (M.D.) or an ophthalmologist (M.D.)
  • include date(s) of evaluations and assessments
  • include visual acuity and visual field limitations as well as pertinent medical history including age of onset and cause of impairment
  • review medications and their possible effects on academic performance
  • include a discussion of how the presence of the disability has impacted academic functioning
  • includes a rationale for any academic accommodations presently recommended

Note: Provision of a CNIB registration number is considered sufficient proof of blindness.

Deafness/Hearing Impairment

Documentation of a hearing impairment should:

  • be provided by a physician (M.D.) or an audiologist (M.S.)
  • include date(s) of evaluations and assessments
  • contain the age of diagnoses, cause of impairment, prognosis and pertinent medical history
  • review medications and their possible effects on academic performance
  • discuss the impact of the disability on academic functioning
  • review past accommodations and how those accommodations mediated the impact of the disability (if applicable)
  • include a rationale for any academic accommodations presently recommended

Mobility Impairment

Documentation of mobility impairment must:

  • be provided by a physician (M.D.) or a rheumatologist (M.D.)
  • include a review of diagnosis(es), prognosis, pertinent medical history, treatment, duration of care and follow-up
  • review medications and their possible effects on academic performance
  • contain a functional assessment which includes (when applicable): use of assistive devices/specialized equipment/mobility aids, level of physical tolerance and engagement in activity, degree of mobility, fine and gross motor skills, situational responses, cognition and communication
  • discuss the impact of the disability on academic functioning
  • review past accommodations and how use of those accommodations mediated the impact of the disability (if applicable)
  • include a rationale for any academic accommodations being recommended

In some cases mobility impairments may be documented by medical specialists or appropriate health care professionals/providers using the Medical Certificate form, however students are strongly advised to have their existing documentation reviewed by an Advisor in Student Disability Services before proceeding to this step.

Chronic Medical Disabilities

Guidelines for the documentation of chronic medical condition should:

  • come from a physician (M.D.) or specialist in the area of disability
  • detail treatment and plan(s) for follow-up
  • review medications and their possible effects on academic performance
  • discuss the impact of the disability on academic functioning
  • include a rationale for any academic accommodations being recommended

Chronic medical conditions may be documented by medical specialists or appropriate health care professionals/providers using the Medical Certificate form, however students are strongly advised to have their existing documentation reviewed by an advisor in Student Disability Services before proceeding to this step.

Acquired Brain Injury

Documentation of an ABI must:

  • come from a physician (M.D.)
  • include date(s) of assessment/evaluation, pertinent tests, prognosis, onset of treatment, duration of care and follow-up
  • review medications and their possible effects on academic performance
  • discuss the impact of the disability on academic functioning in a post-secondary environment (e.g., mobility on campus, attending lectures, note taking, test taking)
  • review past accommodations and how use of those accommodations mediated the impact of the disability (if applicable)
  • include a rationale for any academic accommodations presently recommended

Note: Documentation may be accepted from other health care professionals such as psychologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and/or chiropractors, providing that the professional verifies that they have documentation from a medical doctor which provides the information noted above.

Mental Health Issues/Psychiatric Disability

Documentation of a psychiatric disability must:

  • come from a psychologist, psychiatrist, or family doctor who is familiar with your case
  • be based on an evaluation conducted within the last 6 months
  • include relevant medical history
  • provide information about the effects your condition may have on your academic performance
  • identify medications you are currently taking, and their potential effects on your academic performance
  • suggest academic accommodations that are necessary as a direct consequence of the diagnosed condition

Psychiatric disabilities may be documented by appropriate specialists or health care professionals/providers using the Medical Certificate form, however students are strongly advised to have their existing documentation reviewed by an Advisor in Student Disability Services before proceeding to this step. As a means for better understanding the accommodation process, students are encouraged to visit the Canadian Mental Health Association 'Academic Accommodations' website.

Information for Students Seeking Accommodation for Psychiatric Disabilities

A NOTE ABOUT TEMPORARY DISABILITIES: It is recognized that there may be medical, physical, or mental health conditions that pose temporary barriers to a student's academic performance. Every student with a diagnosed, disabling condition (whether permanent or temporary) is encouraged to discuss their individual needs with an Advisor from Student Disability Services. Access to our services, even temporarily, requires medical documentation from an appropriate specialist confirming a diagnosis, outlining the academic impact of the condition, and (in the case of a temporary disability) identifying the anticipated date of recovery. The SDS Medical Certificate may be used for this purpose in most cases of temporary disability, or you may contact our office to inquire about your specific documentation requirements.

How do I Apply?

Intake

Students seeking academic accommodation for an ongoing, diagnosed disability (whether permanent or temporary) must begin the process by contacting the Student Disability Services office and arranging to meet with an Intake Advisor. During the initial intake appointment, students will be asked to provide basic information about themselves and their disability-related academic needs. It is recommended that when possible, students be prepared to provide documentation of the disability for which accommodations are being sought. Your Intake Advisor will review your current documentation with you and provide you with clear direction if new or additional documentation is required. For more information about documentation requirements, please review the Guidelines for Documentation of Disability web page.

Note: Students with disabilities who are in off-campus academic programs in other communities and would like to register with Student Disability Services should visit our Off-campus Programs web page for Intake/Registration procedures which are specific to their needs.

Registration

It is often the case that intake and registration with Student Disability Services (SDS) can be completed in one appointment with the same advisor. However, in circumstances where new or additional documentation of disability is required, it may be necessary for students to return for a follow-up appointment(s) in order to complete the registration process. At that time, the appropriateness of the documentation, accommodation options and SDS policies and procedures will be discussed. Academic accommodations will only be provided if there is a demonstrated and direct impact on academic performance as the result of a disability, and can only be provided from the point at which registration is completed with SDS. Advisors will recommend appropriate means of meeting accommodation needs and once approved, those recommendations will be stated in a formal "Letter of Accommodation" which the student is required to submit to each instructor in a given semester.

Please note that students in programs other than education or law are required to meet with an Advisor at the beginning of every semester in order to formally request services for that semester, review their accommodations and if necessary, update documentation. Due to the nature of their programs of study, students in education or law programs are only required to register with SDS at the beginning of their academic year.

Additional Information

The BUILD Program

Now entering its tenth year, the BUILD Program was created to ease the transition to university for students with documented learning disabilities and/or ADHD.

To learn more about this program, please visit this page

CUSP Program

CUSP (College and University Success Preparation), is a program designed to give high-school students with ADHD and/or a specific learning disability information to help them make decisions about their academic future.

To learn more about this program, please visit this page.