Accessibility Services

Mission Statement

Accessibility Services (AS) facilitates and promotes the ongoing development of an inclusive and accessible learning environment in which students with disabilities can participate in all aspects of campus life.

The purpose of Accessibility Services is to provide equal access to educational opportunities for students with disabilities at Okanagan College.

Eligibility

To receive academic accommodations, students are required to self-disclose their disability and request supports to Accessibility Services.

We support students who live with disabilities that can include:

  • ADHD
  • Blind or low vision
  • Chronic/systemic health impairments
  • Deaf, deafened or hard of hearing
  • Learning disabilities
  • Mental health disability
  • Mobility/functional impairment
  • Neurological disabilities

Definition of disability: According to the Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development, a disability is defined as a "permanent disability." Which means: "a functional limitation caused by a physical or mental impairment that restricts the ability of a person to perform the daily activities necessary to participate in studies at a post-secondary school level or labour force and is expected to remain with the person for the person's expected life." However, we do provide accommodations to those students who experience longer term but likely temporary disabling issues: i.e. recovery from an injury or surgery.

Temporary Disabilities

Students with a temporary disability (e.g. a broken arm) should first contact instructors to discuss temporary and reasonable accommodation and whether the instructors can provide them. If instructors are unable to provide the accommodation or if the prognosis for the temporary disability proves to be longer than expected (more that one semester), the student should contact Accessibility Services.

Depending on the disability, documentation should:

  • Be current
  • Outline the nature and extent of the disability
  • Explain how the disability impacts the student in an educational environment
  • Outline the functional capacity in an academic setting
  • Provide recommendations for supports that mitigate the impact of the disability in an educational setting

When a service dog is required, the student may be required to show evidence of BC certification for the dog. The student will also be required to provide medical documentation to support the need for a service dog.

Accommodation Definition

An accommodation involves the removal of barriers (physical or instructional).

An accommodation may involve an adaptation to the physical and/or instructional environment. An accommodation may include alternate formats and methods of communication, the use of adaptive technology and/or adaptations to the examination environment.

An accommodation does not usually involve modification of curriculum or evaluation; a student must still meet the learning objectives and essential requirements of the course.

Accessibility Services Intake Process

  1. Make an appointment to meet with an Accessibility Services Coordinator on your campus approximately 3 months prior to the commencement of your program.
  2. Gather relevant documentation on your disability to bring to your appointment.
    NOTE: Current documentation is required to receive accommodations. See the documentation section for guidelines.
  3. Meet with your Accessibility Services Coordinator to discuss what you may be eligible for while you are attending school.

Whenever possible it is best to register and establish accommodations prior to the beginning of the academic semester, however a student may initiate the process at any point.​

Should you have any questions or concerns about this intake process, please contact the Accessibility Services Coordinator on your campus.

Types of Academic Accommodations

Accommodations are provided based on the academic functional impact of the disability provided by a medical professional. Services and accommodations may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Access to technical aids and adaptive equipment
  • Accommodated tests and exams
  • Alternate format text material
  • Assistance with funding for students with disabilities
  • Facilitation with note taking
  • Instructor liaison
  • Mobility and physical access assistance
  • Orientation to OC
  • Referrals to support services
  • Sign language interpreting

Once accommodations are determined, a letter is sent to each of the student's instructors/professors outlining the approved accommodations. Notify your Accessibility Services Coordinator if any changes need to be made to your accommodation letter.

How to Access Services

  1. Contact Us - If you are thinking about becoming an OC student, or have applied to a program or course
  2. Meet with Us - Make an appointment with an Accessibility Services Coordinator, preferably three months before you start. Make sure you bring with you Medical Documentation. If you do not have medical documentation, the Accessibility Services Coordinator will provide you with a medical form for your doctor to complete.
  3. Continued Services - For a student to continue receiving services, they must contact the Accessibility Services Coordinator each term.

Medical Documentation

Acceptable documentation must be obtained from a certified health care professional who has specific training, appropriate professional designation, and expertise in the diagnosis of the conditions for which the accommodation is being requested. Examples of appropriate health care professionals include the following:

  • Certified audiologist
  • Certified school psychologist (CVASP registered if in BC)
  • Neurologist
  • Neuropsychologist
  • Ophthalmologist
  • Physician or medical specialist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Registered clinical psychologist

The documentation we require for a learning disability must include a psychological-educational assessment from a registered clinical psychologist or certified school psychologist. The psychological-educational assessment must have been completed in the last five years or the assessment must have been made after age 18.

The documentation must speak to the degree and extent of the functional impact of the disability. It must also provide recommendations on what would be deemed appropriate and reasonable and/or services. When consulted, an Accessibility Advisor and the Manager of Accessibility Services will review the documentation and discuss with the student the appropriateness and reasonableness of the recommendations in relation to the university's academic standards and the essential requirements of the course and/or program.

Transition Planning

Accessibility Service provision is a key element of transition planning for students with disabilities but is only one piece of a much larger transition process into the university environment. The transition to the post-secondary environment signals a significant shift in the student's academic life whereby the student becomes an equal partner in his/her education as a self-directed, independent learner.

There are differences between services and accommodations provided at high school compared to services and accommodations provided at university for students with disabilities. Please see the table below as well as the frequently asked questions that follow.

High School College
High school is a right and usually free College is a choice with a cost attached to it
Time is structured by school and parents Students manage their own time
Teachers will remind students of their responsibilities and help them set up priorities Students are responsible for balancing their priorities and responsibilities
Days have a structured schedule Days may be more open with gaps between classes
School arranges schedule Student may be responsible for arranging their schedule
Students are told about graduation requirements Student is expected to know their programs graduation requirements and is responsible for making sure they meet the requirements
Students are usually told what they need to learn from assigned readings Student is responsible for reading and understanding course material and assigned readings; it is presumed that the student will have done so for the next lecture
Teacher will check if homework is complete and remind them if they have not completed something Instructors may not check for completion of homework but expect the student understands that material
Teach will approach students that they think may need assistance Instructors are willing to help students but may expect the student to initiate contact if they are struggling
Teachers often present material to help students understand the textbook Instructors may not follow a textbook and may use other materials in addition to a textbook

Contact Information

Campus Phone Number Campus Coordinator
Kelowna 250-862-5451 Angela Checkley - Accessibility Services Coordinator
acheckley@okanagan.bc.ca

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Piper Yacheson - Access Liaison
pyacheson@okanagan.bc.ca
Vernon 250-545-7291 Kim Bailey - Accessibility Services Coordinator
kbailey@okanagan.bc.ca
Penticton, Oliver 250-492-4305 Paula Faragher - Accessibility Services Coordinator
pfaragher@okanagan.bc.ca
Salmon Arm, Revelstoke 250-832-2126 Shannon Kiehlbauch - Accessibility Services Coordinator
skiehlbauch@okanagan.bc.ca