Disability Resource Centre Creates Inclusion Around Campus, Online and Offline by Yasmeen Kaila
Everyone needs extra support in their life.
Whether it is mental health, physical health, or accommodations, the Disability Resource Centre (DRC) at the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO) helps create a safe space for inclusion and diversity around campus both in person and online.
The DRC’s role is to support those with ongoing medical conditions and varying abilities through their university career. Allowing all students to get a fair education without drawbacks one might face. Having the DRC as a resource is a benefit for those who may be at a disadvantage. The list of conditions the DRC can assist with includes mental health conditions, neurological disabilities, chronic health conditions as well as physical or sensory disabilities.
Individuals are assisted through many accommodations such as, note takers, assistive listening devices, medical equipment/supplies, distraction reduced environments and extended time for exams. Those are just a few of the many accommodations the DRC provides for students at UBCO. Accommodations are granted after a meeting is conducted with an advisor from the DRC and the student. The meeting consists of figuring out which accommodations one would best benefit from and meet the student’s specific needs. Once accommodations are finalized, students are required to inform instructors, so they can include accommodations to one’s class in a way that respects their dignity, privacy, and autonomy.
As someone who is a student working with the DRC, I have found my education has less barriers and more flexibility to accommodate my learning. I was worried about my first-year education as everything was online due to COVID-19. The support and accommodation I was given due to the circumstances, were phenomenal. I felt like someone with disadvantages was still given a fair shot at education. As everything was online, accommodations were a little different than how they would normally be set up. The DRC organized private zoom calls during exams for those needing accommodations, allowing for a distraction reduced environment for those online.
Simple accommodations give someone a big sense of inclusion.
The UBCO website states that “seven to eight percent of the student population, which is up to 800 students, are associated with the DRC at any given time. 800 students needing accommodations get assistance and access to fair education daily because of the DRC.”
After talking to other students in the DRC about their experiences and thoughts, the feedback I received corresponded with the DRC’s capability to provide a welcoming space . Students have asked for their names not to be included in this article for privacy reasons, therefore, I will refer to them as “Student 1” and “Student 2”.
Student 1 explained that the DRC helps UBCO by implementing equity into the academic system. The DRC allowed this student with ADHD and Dyslexia to succeed with accommodations such as a note taker, time and a half for test taking and other accommodations to fit their needs.
Student 2 explained that the DRC has helped them with their university experience. They learned at their own pace and had the help they needed. The DRC gave them an opportunity to understand concepts and materials in different ways so that they are able to understand better.
The DRC also boosted students’ confidence in classes. With the guidance of the staff from the DRC students feel comfortable with class material so they feel prepared to answer any questions. They continued to say they do not feel ashamed about asking for help and being judged. Students can be open about what they need. When asking student two about their experiences with the DRC. Yearly checks performed by the DRC to see how us students feel about the upcoming year was seen as reassuring. Students were able to have a great conversation about classes and challenges from the previous year.
It is very clear, through personalized accommodations and amazing staff, that the DRC at the UBCO allows for a more inclusive and safe place on and off campus for students with different challenges.. If you, or someone you know who might benefit from the DRC, please visit the Disability resources website. If you feel you are someone who can help those at the DRC, please visit the website as well to see how you can help students around you.
Accommodations information for faculty. Student Services. (n.d.). Retrieved October 24, 2022, from https://students.ok.ubc.ca/academic-success/disability-resources/information-for-faculty/
Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash