If you are familiar with special needs and disabilities accommodations, that is fabulous! We look forward to working with you and your students. If, however, you are like many new professors or instructors, the Accessibility Services Department is oftentimes “unchartered territory”, and truthfully, you can’t be entirely sure of its role. That’s okay too! We’re glad you’re reading this and being proactive about getting to know how this department can best assist you and your students. The Accessibility Services Department is an integral component of the college and of student success.
So what exactly does this mean for you…as a teacher?
It means you have an excellent resource at your fingertips to help your students succeed and to help you become the best teacher you can be! Accessibility Services fulfills a number of needs including organizing student educational assessments, developing and implementing learning plans, transitioning students with Individual Educational Plans (IEPs) from high school to post-secondary classes, and much more.
How do you work with Accessibility Services?
We’re glad you asked! If a student is registered with the department, he or she will have already met with an advisor and will be familiar with what is expected from him or her when it comes to accessing the services. Often, a student will ask you to sign test/exam accommodation forms that allows them to utilize the accommodations they are permitted. Sign away! It means your student is doing everything possible to be successful.
Don’t all these accommodations give the student unfair advantage?
We understand why you ask that and we can assure you, absolutely not! The goal of student accommodations is to “level the playing field” so to speak. Students are carefully assessed and provided with resources that allow them the same opportunity to be successful as any other student. One of the easiest ways to think of accommodations is in terms of physical needs. You would never expect a student with a broken leg to climb the stairs unassisted. In fact, he or she would likely take an elevator, or at the very least, be supplied with crutches. Academic accommodations are much the same. They make sure each person has the opportunity to demonstrate his or her skills in a fair and equitable manner.
Can you refer students to Accessibility Services?
Yes. Students use the service on a voluntary basis and can be referred to the department at any point during the year.
Will the department disclose student assessment results to professors?
No. The assessment process and results are confidential. Students are not required to disclose to anyone their specific disabilities. You will, however, be given the specific accommodations that each students is to be provided. Some students, in the interest of academic success, will be willing to share more information with you if it helps them in their courses.
How can professors learn more about helping students with disabilities?
Any professor or teacher is welcome to visit the department to discuss with an advisor, ways of supporting their students with disabilities. You can also work with your local Learning Excellent and Innovation Department representative to learn more about universal instructional design and other course development methods that can assist all students in being successful.
Northern College recognizes that some students have a disability that requires physical adaptations to the facilities, and/or the provision of special support services and assistive devices in order for these students to successfully complete their studies. A Learning Strategist/Assistive Technologist will provide one-on-one assessments, learning strategies and technological assistance to students with learning disabilities.
Applicants with disabilities are encouraged to contact the advisors in Accessibility Services to discuss their program of study and any accommodations they may require Furthermore, each student who requires accommodations is required to present a copy of his/her medical or psycho-educational documentation to the advisors of the centre. Once approval for accommodations has been made by the advisor and the Regional/Associate Regional Director, appropriate adaptations can be implemented and subsequent planning for provisions can be completed.
What is a disability?
“A disability is a functional limitation resulting from a physical, sensory, or mental impairment, which, for an indefinite period, affects the ability of the student to perform the necessary activities to participate fully in post-secondary learning.”
Typically, students with disabilities include:
- Deaf and hard of hearing
- Visually impaired
- Mobility impaired
- Learning disabled
- Mental disabilities
- Physically impaired
- Multiple impaired
- Anxiety/Stress disorders
Students with disabilities are expected to accomplish the “core competencies” of their programs. To achieve this, accommodations are provided to minimize or eliminate any disadvantage their disability presents. Accommodations are unique to each individual. The Accessibility Services makes these recommendations based on confidential documentation that the student provides to the College.
Accommodations can include:
- Note-taking for lectures
- Access to alternate format materials such as textbook on CD
- Access to a word processor with spell check, grammar, and thesaurus for the completion of the final copy of written work
- Extended time for tests/exams
- Tests/exams in a quiet place (outside the classroom)
- Use of a calculator on tests/exams
- Scribe/Readers for tests/exams
Providing accommodations for students with disabilities is a large part of ensuring equal access to education and providing an enjoyable post-secondary education experience. Accommodations refer to any service, adaptation or support mechanism that enables students with disabilities to participate fully in academic, campus and community life. In particular, academic accommodations provide students with disabilities an equal opportunity to master the essentials of a post secondary education. Accommodations are intended to level the playing field so that students with disabilities have the chance to develop the same skills and abilities expected of all students.
Appropriate accommodation undoubtedly varies for each student dependent on their disability and their academic requirements. Should you have any questions about our centre, please do not hesitate to drop by or give us a call. We are here to help!
Accessible Campus (from the Council of Ontario Universities)
Timmins Campus: 705.235.3211 ext. 2233
Haileybury Campus: 705.672.3376 ext. 8849
Kirkland Lake Campus: 705.567.9291 ext. 3626
Moosonee Campus: 705.336.2913 ext. 5603