According to the Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC):
“A disability may have been present from birth, caused by an accident, or developed over time. It includes physical, mental, and learning disabilities, mental disorders, hearing or vision disabilities, epilepsy, drug and alcohol dependencies, environmental sensitivities, as well as other conditions”.
Institutional or academic barriers are what create disability-related needs, as they prevent a person with a disability from becoming fully involved in society.
Documentation provided to Student Accessibility Services is reviewed by an Accessibility Consultant to determine if there is a disability-related need. If it is established that a disability-related need exists, the University, as per the OHRC, has a duty to accommodate; unless to do so would cause undue hardship and/or the student cannot meet the “essential requirements” of a course.
Academic accommodation is a process by which students are provided conditions, services, and/or tools, which help to compensate for the effects of their disability in studying, classroom learning, testing and other evaluation. These accommodations are determined by the Accessibility Consultant and are based upon recommendations made in the documentation— these accommodations are unique and specific to a student’s disability-related needs.
Appropriate accommodation is fair and is meant to “level the playing field”. An accommodation should notprovide an “unfair advantage” to students with disabilities over other students; course requirements should not be modified and standards should not be changed for students with a disability. If the student’s disability prevents them from doing “essential requirements” the University is not legislated to accommodate them.
Three key principals, developed by the OHRC, provide Student Accessibility Services a foundation from which an accommodation plan is built.
- Nipissing University must respect the rights of persons with disabilities by ensuring integration and full participation at Nipissing University.
- We must value students with disabilities as unique individuals and they must be assessed and accommodated individually.
- We must respect the dignity of students with disabilities, including integrity, empowerment, confidentiality, privacy, comfort, autonomy, individuality and self-esteem.