System approach shifted, now students struggling to self-advocate for their needs
The University of Regina provides services for individuals requiring accommodations, which includes services for students with disabilities, health conditions, illnesses, and injuries. The Centre for Student Accessibility is responsible for providing consultation and appointments to discuss accommodations with students. An advisor will help to discuss accommodation options that best suit an individual.
The implementation of accommodations has changed since the global pandemic. Prior to 2020, a student would request that an email be sent to their professors and the professors would then be responsible for providing accommodations, including booking quiet exam spaces for students – thereby putting the onus on the professors instead of on the student.
Since then, the U of R has created the Brad Hornung Accommodations Test Centre (ATC), located in College West right beside the campus bookstore. The centre was named after Brad Hornung, an athlete who became a quadriplegic after being checked from behind into the board during his time with the Regina Pats on March 1, 1987. On February 8, 2022, Hornung died of cancer, just shy of his 53rd birthday.
The testing centre provides individuals the accommodations they need outside of the classroom, such as providing quiet exam spaces, readers, and scribes for individuals who need them. The testing centre allows students to write quizzes, midterms, and finals within the testing centre. However, students must book at least seven days in advance of their exams.
Students requiring the testing centre must log into their account on UR Accommodated and book a room, either private or shared, through the Testing Room Booking Request section. This shifts the responsibility back onto the student instead of having the responsibility being put on the professor. This has pros and cons, as students may feel overwhelmed or have advocacy fatigue about booking time slots, especially when there are no more rooms available.
I have dyslexia and have been using the Centre for Student Accessibility since coming to the U of R in the fall of 2019. I personally feel that the old and new systems have their pros and cons. The old system in some ways was more convenient for the student, whereas the new system requires more from the student receiving the accommodation which can add more stress. I think when it comes to having a learning disability, one of the hardest things is being an advocate for yourself and for the accommodations that you require; it can be extremely draining.
I think it’s important that there are services in place to help minimize this type of fatigue that many students deal with regarding self-advocacy. I have noticed as the years have gone on that the testing centre is being used more, which means that getting a room for scheduled final exam slots is becoming more difficult. For example, this semester I went to UR Accommodated a month and a half before my final exam in order to book a private room and none were available.
This is a new trend that seems to be taking shape more recently with the testing centre as demand for the centre increases and the staffing at the centre has decreased since its recent creation. It’s important that students know that they have access to accommodations, but also understand that the increase in students using the centre has made it more difficult for students to have access to the centre during exam periods. The university should look into expanding the testing centre to make sure that students have access to their required accommodations, especially during exam season.