Once you have narrowed down your list of potential colleges or universities and determined your top choices, check out what type of services each provides for students with learning disabilities.
Many post-secondary institutions provide services to students with disabilities through a Disability Services Office (DSO), which may also be known as Accessibility Services, Office for Students with Disabilities, or a similar name.
Other institutions offer services to students with disabilities through their student health, counselling, mental or financial services.
It is very important to contact the DSO (or the staff assigned to assist students with disabilities) at the institutions on your short list, about a year in advance of the start of your program. Meet with them in person, if possible.
The DSO will help you:
- Understand admission requirements.
Apply to the program. Application procedures vary between provinces/territories and institutions, and will also vary depending on whether you are applying directly out of high school or as a mature student. Colleges and universities now encourage prospective students to apply on-line. Their websites include information about the documentation you require (e.g. transcripts, letters of reference), and detailed instructions on how to submit your application. You will require a credit card to apply on-line. College and university admissions offices can also provide you with admissions information, applications and course calendars if you prefer to apply by mail.
- Determine an appropriate course load.
Identify documentation and learning assessments you may require for accommodations or assistive technology.
Arrange this support.
- Identify scholarships, bursaries and grants to apply for.
- Apply for funding.
- Advocate, as necessary.
- Deal with disclosure issues.
- Connect you with groups and other kinds of support on campus.
- Provide you with details regarding priority enrollment (early registration for classes).
When you speak with the DSO, you need to ensure that:
- The institution can arrange the accommodations and supports you require.
- You understand the formal or informal appeal process, if you are not admitted and /or if your application for accommodation is not successful.
Transition Planning Guide for Students with Disabilities and Their Families, Alberta Learning. Your Education-Your Future, Canadian Mental Heath Association, www.cmha.ca/youreducation.