How to Obtain Support – Students with Disabilities
If you wish to avail yourself of accommodation measures in college, you will need to take the initiative and contact your college’s adapted services office to obtain an assessment of your specific needs.
Adapted services, also known as student accessibility services in some CEGEPs, are mandated to welcome students, assess their needs and develop individualized education plans in response to these needs. These services are offered in all colleges, the contact information for which is on their websites. You can also phone the general number for your college and ask to speak to the adapted services counsellor.
It is advisable that you contact the adapted services office as soon as possible, preferably just after registering for your program, because some accommodation measures may require more time to set up than others. You may also have your situation assessed at any point during your time in college.
You should also know that, if you refuse accommodation measures and subsequently fail one or more courses, these results will remain in your academic file.
Informing the college of your disability
If you wish to avail yourself of accommodation services, the college will require you to share certain information; however, you are not required to disclose a disability. Section 53 of the Act respecting Access to Documents Held by Public Bodies and the Protection of Personal Information states that students with disabilities, or holders of parental authority (for minors), can disclose or withhold information about their medical condition.
That being said, it is still advisable to inform the college of your situation so that the appropriate measures can be taken in a timely manner. The college is required to treat your information as confidential and cannot transmit any information to a third party without your written consent—subject, of course, to any exceptions provided for by law.
Disclosure is encouraged because it facilitates the implementation of whatever accommodations may be required for you to successfully complete your studies.
Documents you will need to provide in order to receive accommodation services
To receive accommodation measures, you must provide a medical diagnosis or a diagnostic assessment carried out by an authorized professional. This could be:
- a doctor
- a psychologist
- a speech therapist
- an optometrist
- a hearing specialist
- a guidance counsellor holding the appropriate training certificate issued by the professional order to which he or she belongs
- a nurse with the experience and training required by the Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec
A single diagnosis or diagnostic assessment is usually valid for life. In other words, it is often no longer necessary to seek a clinical re-assessment of an already diagnosed condition. However, in some instances a college may decide that certain conditions justify another assessment to better define your needs.
If you have never had a diagnosis, it is recommended that you meet with a resource person in your college. You could, for example, arrange to see an academic advisor, an adapted services counsellor or a guidance counsellor in order to discuss your concerns, determine your needs and, if need be, obtain a referral to an authorized professional. You could also contact an authorized professional directly to have your situation assessed.
When you meet with a member of the adapted services staff, you will be asked to provide all the information that could be useful in assessing your needs. Your cooperation in this matter will make it possible to determine the accommodation measures most conducive to your success. Where the context permits, the individualized education plan you had in secondary school could help in your transition to college. It can be transferred to the college with your written consent. Please keep in mind, however, that plans are not necessarily applied in exactly the same way as in secondary school; but they can still be useful.
Processing your application and establishing accommodation measures
When all the required supporting documents have been provided, a meeting will be held to assess your needs and to have you sign a personal information disclosure agreement, your education plan, etc.
Next, your teachers must be notified of the measures to be established. While it is recommended that you relay this information on your own, adapted services staff can, if you wish, help you to communicate with your teachers. Once this has been done, the accommodation measures will be established. These can be applied in some or all courses, depending on your needs. Adapted services staff will be available to you throughout your studies and can provide you with any help you may need in this regard.