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Accessibility in College and University Campus Life

Currently, there are no AODA education standards. However, two AODA standards development committees have drafted recommendations of guidelines that AODA education standards should include. One committee has recommended guidelines for the kindergarten to grade twelve (K-12) education system. In contrast, the other committee has recommended guidelines for the university and college education system. In this article, we outline the Postsecondary Committee’s recommendations for accessibility in college and university campus life.

The committee’s mandate from the Ontario government requires recommendations focused on publicly-funded colleges and universities. However, students and educators with disabilities also face barriers in other education settings, including:

  • Privately-funded colleges and universities
  • Transitional job training programs

Therefore, all these settings should comply with the forthcoming postsecondary education standards.

Accessibility in College and University Campus Life

The Committee recommends that colleges and universities should proactively include students with disabilities in student life activities on campus. For example, colleges and universities can work with accessible sports organizations to make school sports and recreation activities more accessible. Therefore, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities should develop partnerships between:

Similarly, college and university policies should encourage full-time and part-time students with disabilities to take part in student government. Likewise, student governments and student unions should have comparable policies and procedures encouraging the involvement of students with disabilities. In addition, colleges and universities, as well as student governments and unions, should collect data about percentages of students with disabilities currently in leadership positions. Colleges and universities should include these findings in their multi-year accessibility plans and yearly status reports. They should also detail any improved involvement of students with disabilities in leadership positions, as a result of school policies and procedures. Likewise, they should outline more ways to encourage future participation. This outline will help staff develop new accessible student life programs, or improve existing ones.

Accommodations in Campus Life

Moreover, colleges and universities should fund any accommodations students need to fulfill their roles in student government. A staff member or department at each college or university should contact off-campus organizations able to provide certain accommodations students might need, such as:

  • Orientation and mobility (O and M) trainers
  • Captionists

Colleges and universities should inform all students that they have access to these accommodations, either directly through the school, or indirectly through an off-campus organization’s connection to the school.

Furthermore, the government should find ways to improve the quantity and quality of attendant services for students. To do so, the government should consult with many stakeholders, such as students, attendants, and administration.