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Thursday, June 19 • 10:30am - 11:20am
CON4.11 – Developing Documentation Standards and Guidelines for Academic Accommodations for Students with Mental Health Disabilities in Post-Secondary Education (Room A207)

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This presentation will provide an overview of a three-year project that is funded under the Mental Health Innovation Fund (MTCU) and is a joint venture between St. Lawrence College and Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Over the last five years, the number of students registered in Disability Service/Access Offices in the post-secondary sector in Ontario has increased by 32%.  Over the same period, the number of students with mental health disabilities has increased by 67%. The current model of accommodating students with disabilities being used across the province faces major challenges in accommodating those with mental health disabilities.  For example, the episodic nature of some mental health conditions and the variability in guidelines for documentation both create difficulties in providing an equitable accommodation process.  As well, members of faculty and staff lack adequate information regarding how they can support students with mental health disabilities.

The goals of the project are: (a) To develop province-wide documentation standards, taking into consideration the specific needs of students with mental health disabilities (b) To develop training for students, faculty and staff on how best to accommodate students with mental health disabilities (c) To develop an information and resource handbook for students with mental health disabilities.

In the winter of 2014, the research team carried out a provincial environmental scan, gathering input from a range of stakeholder groups – students with mental health disabilities, faculty, disability advisors, administrators and campus physicians. Stakeholder input was collected via (i) a series of focus groups held in five sites in the province and (ii) an on-line survey.  Both methods of data-collection focused on stakeholders’ experiences in seeking, recommending or providing academic accommodation, as well as their suggestions for improvements to the current system.  The researchers will share preliminary data from the environmental scan and discuss emerging themes and their implications for developing best practices in accommodating students with mental health problems and disabilities.

Thursday June 19, 2014 10:30am - 11:20am EDT
A207 McArthur Hall

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