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Accessibility at Vic

Sep. 07

On September 7, from 1:00 –1:30 p.m., Vic’s accessibility advisor, Carrie Clayton, will be hosting an orientation session for students to help them understand what Accessibility Services is and how it can help them. E-mail vic.orientation@utoronto.ca to join.

Clayton is an on-site registered social worker who is passionate about supporting students. She works with faculty and students to help remove obstacles that may limit students with disabilities from fully participating in their coursework and research. This can include developing alternative ways for students to meet the requirements of their academic work such as sign-language interpreters, specialized furniture or lab equipment, assistive technologies, extra time to complete assignments and quiz/test/exam accommodations.

Currently, Clayton is on the Vic campus one day per week, but works virtually when she is not on site. She works closely with other staff in Vic’s Registrar and Academic Advising office, including Benjamin Pottruff, Vic’s learning strategist. Pottruff describes his role as similar to that of a coach. “The work is partially about getting to know students’ goals, partially about understanding the challenges they are experiencing, and mainly about collaborating on a plan of strategies, techniques, or process to help students reach their goals.”

Clayton and Pottruff share a common goal: to help all Vic students achieve success.

It is estimated that nearly 90% of students registered with Accessibility Services have non-visible or non-evident disabilities. And while not every student living with a disability requires accommodation, for those that do, registering with Accessibility Services can assist students in navigating disability-related barriers to success. A disability refers to functional limitations or impairments experienced as a barrier within the environment. To register with Accessibility Services, students need to have a medically diagnosed disability. Accessibility Services then provides services and supports for learning, problem solving and inclusion for ongoing or temporary disability.

Supports at Vic also include several scholarships and bursaries. One example is the General Motors Bursary for Students with a Disability (established in 1998) which offers additional funding to students who are experiencing a shortfall in their budget for the academic year.

Improving accessibility for students, faculty, staff and the broader community is a work in progress. People’s needs are constantly in flux. Victoria College is working to improve accessibility by promoting a broadened definition of both disability and success, and by increasing support both within and outside the classroom with different learning experiences, events and mentorship.

Some accommodations provided include testing and lab accommodations, peer notetaking support, assignment extensions, alternatives to oral participation, sign language interpretation, adaptive furniture and equipment. Learn more about services provided through accessibility services.

There is a common misconception that accommodations make coursework easier, but that is not the case. Accommodations ensure that all students have the same chance to achieve academic success.

The accessibility of the physical learning environment is an ongoing priority at Vic, but due to the age of some of the buildings as well as the high costs of renovations, it remains a challenge. New construction plans at Vic do conform to barrier-free design standards. The Goldring Student Centre, for example, includes ramps with gradual slopes, elevators and an increase in seating and rest areas.

Learn more about academic accommodations, how to register and connect with Accessibility Services by contacting the front desk at: 416-978-8060 or by e-mail at accessibility.services@utoronto.ca. Appointments are offered via phone or Microsoft Teams. If you prefer a Microsoft Teams appointment, please indicate this when scheduling your appointment

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