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 recommended accessible supervision of graduate students with disabilities.
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.
Accessible Supervision of Graduate Students with Disabilities
The Committee recommends that the Ministry of Colleges and Universities should create standardized guidelines and resources about supervising graduate students. The Council of Ontario Universities should also be involved in creating the guidelines and resources. Through these guidelines and resources, graduate faculty would learn best practices for working with graduate students in accessible ways:
- In person
In addition, every university with graduate faculties or departments should have policies for accommodating graduate students with disabilities. For example, policies should address procedures for:
- Disclosing disability
- Maintaining an environment that respects student dignity
- Accommodation, including for employment as:
- Research assistants
- Teaching assistants
- Graduate assessments, such as:
- Comprehensive exams
- Thesis defenses
Faculties and departments should develop these policies in consultation with their schools’ committees for responding to results of the campus climate instrument.
Similarly, graduate faculties and departments should review processes for sending letters of admission to graduate school, and letters to offer graduate-student employment. These letters should both invite prospective graduate students and employees to request accommodations, if needed. Moreover, letters should direct students about whom to contact when requesting accommodation as a student, or as an employee. Since these two accommodation processes may differ, letters offering graduate-student employment should be distinct from admission letters. In this way, each letter can outline the accommodation process students or employees should follow.