Making the Impossible Tasks Possible Again
By: Brittany McQueen, Contributor
Chances are you’ve passed this office while walking down the tunnels at LU’s Thunder Bay campus or you’ve heard about contacting them during introductions in every first class you’ve ever attended and maybe you’ve wondered what exactly is SAS? Well, you’re not alone and there are many other students who are thinking the same thing. At Lakehead University, it has been noticed that a lot of students are not aware of what SAS is and the excellent services which they provide.
SAS stands for Student Accessibility Services and it is offered at both university campus. The purpose of these services is to create a university experience that is inclusive for all individuals. It accomplishes this by ensuring that its services, supports, and spaces are accessible for persons with disabilities and/or medical conditions. The specific services offered include: learning how to understand your disability, reviewing assessments, facilitating the provision of academic accommodations, arranging a volunteer notetaker, demonstration and/or training available for assistive devices and/or software programs, developing learning strategies, arranging test and exam accommodations, and collaborating with staff and faculty.
Student Accessibility Services not only assists students with documented disabilities, it also helps those seeking documentation. If you believe that you require an accommodation for your classes, you can simply make an appointment at their office to find the necessary steps to begin documenting your disability. A disability does not just have to be permanent, it can be a temporary disability as well. Also, students with functional limitations which impair academic functioning, may request interim accommodations pending the submission of disability documentation.
It is the student’s responsibility to initiate all involvement with SAS. For each term that you require accommodations, you must make an appointment with their office and while arranging your appointment you will be assigned an advisor. The advisor will be chosen based on your needs. During this appointment your accommodations will be reviewed in detail with your advisor. If you have any questions about specifically what your accommodations are, this is the time to ask. Also, if you have any other questions regarding your university career while receiving support, advisors will be happy to help you to the best of their abilities.
Accommodations are meant to eliminate barriers and level the playing field for students with disabilities and/or medical conditions. Having accommodations does not mean that you are lesser than any other student. It also does not mean that you have an advantage over your colleagues either. Examples of some accommodations offered are: extra time for assignments, more time to complete tests/quizzes/exams, breaks during exams or simply just having a note taker. Having these accommodations can greatly improve a student’s experience at university. It can make normally impossible tasks, completely possible again.
It is important to remember that SAS considers the privacy and confidentiality of students to be of paramount importance. When signing up with this service, it will not be reflected on any student’s official university records, test results, academic transcripts, or graduation documentation. You also have no need to worry about your professors treating you differently. It is completely up to you to disclose your disability. The professors that you have will be contacted by SAS. The only information that they will be given is your name and the accommodations you require. All the information that they receive will be approved and signed off by you, the student. If they have any problems, you are not required to explain anything to them. In this type of case, all you would have to do is contact your advisor at SAS and they would take care of the rest. If you ever feel like you were treated differently you can always email, phone, or stop by the office to talk about what happened. Your advisor will be more than happy to help you.
SAS is a safe place where you can get help making your university experience better if you have a disability. The Thunder Bay campus hours are: Mon, Tues, Thurs, & Fri 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Wednesday 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Closed: 12:30pm-1:30pm May 2nd to August 31st. The office can be found in SC 0003 and their phone number is +1 (807) 343-8047. The Orillia campus has the same hours and is closed during the same period of the year. Their location is OA 1030, 500 University Avenue and their phone number is (705) 330-4008 ext. 2103. Additional information can be found on their website.