KPU Disability Services Are Confidential, Free, and More Accessible Than You Might Think

It’s important to know your rights, and you could be eligible for services you didn’t even know existed

KPU’s process of assessing the needs of students who self-identify as having disabilities. (kpu.ca)

As a student with a disability, it’s always a challenge to figure out what your rights are in a school setting. It’s also not always clear what types of support you can find, as each institution offers something different.

The accessibility services department is there to help students with disabilities navigate the different challenges that they might encounter at KPU. They offer academic accommodations, assistance with disability-related funding, and help with getting connected to campus support. The department is meant to support students with disabilities and help them reach their university goals.

One of the issues that can confuse students is the belief that students need to have a visible disability to access services on campus. However, according to KPU policy, students with disabilities “have a significant and persistent mobility, sensory, learning, or other physical or mental health impairment which may be permanent or temporary, experience functional restrictions or limitations of their ability to perform the range of life’s activities, and may experience attitudinal and / or environmental barriers that hamper their full and self-directed participation in life.”

If you are unsure if you fit this description, you can make an appointment to speak to someone in the department so that they can help guide you in the right direction.

The type of assistance that can be provided to students with disabilities on campus is rather diverse. It can come in the form of extra time during exams or a separate setting for exam taking, assistance with note taking, having a computer in the classroom, group work accommodation, communication access — such as interpreting, captioning, transcribing or assistive listening devices — or recording of lectures are also some of the accommodations that students may be entitled to. Personal care assistants can help students navigate the school, set up books or technology in the classroom, or assist with personal care like washroom assistance or transportation. They also have great knowledge of the disability funding resources that are available at KPU and can help with the sometimes overwhelming task of filling out forms and understanding programs.

To be eligible to receive academic accommodation, you have to provide appropriate documentation to prove your disability. Accommodations have to be set up every semester, but if your condition has not changed, you do not need to provide documentation every semester in order to be approved. The accessibility services department can provide you with forms to be filled out by a qualified professional. All of this information is kept confidential by Accessibility Services.

After you have been approved for accommodations, instructors are only informed of the accommodations that you will be receiving, not the reason why you’re receiving them. You can choose whether or not to disclose anything further. Privacy is very important, and if at any time you do not feel comfortable with the information that is asked of you, you can choose not to answer or ask to see the policies of the department. If you do not agree with the decision or would like more information, there is an appeal process you can pursue to make sure that you are being treated fairly.

Students with disabilities are encouraged to speak to an advisor and self-identify. Of course, this does not mean that if you are a student with disabilities you must let the university know.

Supporting students should be a school’s first priority, and speaking to advisors about what kind of support they can grant can help people who need accommodations in the classroom. As students, we should all hold these institutions accountable and inform ourselves about everything that they have to offer.

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