Student Accommodations: A Question & Answer Session

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Sally Greenough defines Reasonable Accommodation

Sally Greenough defines Reasonable Accommodation

On October 30th, 2013, Sally Greenough, Laurie Carcia and Kim MacKinnon, Educational Psychologists, Student Development discussed the Reasonable Accommodations Policy G-3.5 at SIAST and answered questions that faculty had regarding how the policy and accommodation strategies translate into the classroom, clinical and workplace.

It was noted that the Reasonable Accommodations Policy is a requirement of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.  Sally stated that it was a legal duty for SIAST to accommodate to the point of “undue hardship” and that this applies to both SIAST students and employees.  The definitions of discrimination, reasonable accommodation, the duty to accommodate and undue hardship were discussed as well as the limits on the duty to accommodate.

 

Kim MacKinnon speaks to the Program Admission Requirements.

Kim MacKinnon speaks to the Program Admission Requirements.

Students come to SIAST either with an assessment already done (that is they bring their medical documents or psychologist report from High School) or the psychologists at SIAST do the educational tests to confirm the diagnosis.  The Psychologist report is only valid for five years and then another one is required.  There was a discussion on admission requirements and that perhaps programs needed to review their admission requirements if there are work-related requirements that are not noted in the program admission requirements i.e. lifting heavy loads.

SIAST Psychologists and instructors discuss recording devices.

SIAST Psychologists and Instructors discuss recording devices in the classroom.

The discussion on recording devices in the classroom was engaging as the development of the SMART pen and other assistive technologies has mushroomed. These technologies are being used by a variety of users including those who have a learning disability. Many instructors were not aware of the Smart Pen and that the pen can record the lecture and is used on pixelated paper so that the recorder will automatically go back to the section of the recording that the person wants to hear again.  The student who has a Smart Pen as an accommodation signs a waiver so that the information is only for their use in learning and is not to be shared.  It was noted that the student is not only recording the instructor but also other students  and in some courses there might be personal information that is shared.  Sally noted that the instructor would instruct everyone to shut off any recording devices during any personal or confidential discussions.  Instructors need to be aware that they will be informed of any student who requires recording as an accommodation however all students have access to this technology and they are not likely to be informing the instructor that they are recording the session.

While instructors are informed by the Program Head of any accommodations that a student requires they are not informed of the learning issue or disability: this is a confidentiality issue and unless the student agrees the information may not share.   In this sense, many instructors noted that they are not educated on how to help the student learn.  This was a major discussion point with instructors underlining their frustration with the current system.

The question regarding students being weaned off of accommodations was discussed.  Sally stated that in most cases a disability is permanent: that is the person would live with it all of their lives however they may develop better coping skills as they deal with their disability.

You may wish to listen to the Student Accommodation Podcast.

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Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

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Garry speaking about Recogniton of Prior Learning

On February 15th, Garry Ayotte spoke about the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) process to faculty.  He discussed that adults gain skills and knowledge through work and educational experiences.  The RPL process is a way of recognizing this knowledge in a formal way.  He noted that SIAST recognizes prior learning through two process: transfer credit and prior learning assessment and recognition (PLAR).  The transfer credit process is for educational experiences that you have had within the past five years where a course or courses cover 80% of the FCP course material.  It is up to the RPL candidate to find the relevant course outlines and write a letter showing that their prior education covers the FCP Course.  In the PLAR process, the candidate must gather their life experiences and/or teaching materials together to cover the FCP course.

For further information on the RPL process you may contact Garry or access the Recognition of Prior Learning Guide at the ILDC Channel on My SIAST http://programs.siast.sk.ca/ildc/schedule.htm or you can click on this link: RPL Guide .

You can listen to the session podcast here: RPL Podcast