Life @ U of T

Introduction

Accessing accessibility

Accessing accessibility

Michael Cera in a GIF saying "I'm taking a mental health day"

Two years into my undergrad, I learned that I should be registered with Accessibility Services. This realization was difficult for me to come to, much less accept. Over the past few weeks, I’ve denied myself the use of my accommodations because I felt as though I was cheating the “system” somehow. I recently implemented the accommodations I need and my circumstances, and health, are better off for it.

I thought I was a ‘normal’ student. Someone who could engage with school meaningfully and fulfill the requirements of being in university. While this is largely the case, I hadn’t thought the problems I faced were accessibility issues. Here’s the problem with trying to be ‘normal’: the standard is arbitrary. For me, being a ‘normal’ student meant doing a 5.0 FCE course load each year, participating in extra-curricular activities, and maintaining A grades. That expectation did not work out.

Writing this post feels weird. I feel like I’m admitting to receiving something that is secretive or unfair. This is the opposite of what accessibility accommodations actually are.  They  patch the holes in the school system to allow people like me to participate. They are intended to aid me to fulfill my academic potential. Not sure exactly what that means, I’d like to think given the correct circumstances I don’t have a limit to my potential, but I’ll take it.

My accommodations are standard. I have access to notes, sit in different exam rooms, and can request extensions if needed. My process to acquiring such accommodations was long, and I’m going to need to prove again that I require these services. This is what I did:

  1. I regularly visit a psychologist, and have been doing so since last year.
  2.  I asked my medical professional to complete my forms for accommodations. They did, and recommended specific things.
  3. I took my completed paperwork to the Accessibility Services office after following the steps outlines on their website.
  4. I followed the procedure outlined to me, which was specific to my case.

Registering for Accessibility Services took a lot of time.  After many sessions with medical professionals, many hours spent in various administrative offices, and an intake appointment, I was allowed certain accommodations. I now have access to my accessibility advisor for 30 minute sessions at a time.

Reflecting on the process, I think it would’ve been easier had I started school in first year with the accommodations in place. However, the mental health stigma I grew up around prohibited me from even thinking about it. I’m glad I have access to the services now, and have been improving drastically since.

 

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