being

Learn to Be Your Own Advocate

Self-advocacy is one of the most important skills you need in order to be successful in college and university. No one is looking out for you, and you will only get information, services and academic accommodations when you take control of your own situation.

It’s your responsibility to:
  • Register before class begins at the disability services office.
  • Provide documentation of your LD and/or ADHD. 
  • Find out what kinds of academic accommodations and supports you will need in all aspects of your program (including classrooms, labs and field placements).
  • Know how to ask and who to ask for these services and supports.
Becoming an effective self-advocate starts with:
  • Knowing and understanding your learning disabilities.
  • Knowing your strengths and challenges, both personal and academic.
  • Being able to explain what academic accommodations and strategies you use for your learning disabilities.
  • Understanding disclosure. 
  • Understanding your rights and responsibilities as a student with a disability.
  • Keeping a portfolio of all of your transcripts, any recent standard test scores, up-to-date psychological assessments, letters of recommendations, your résumé, correspondence from the disability services office, etc.
Try this checklist:
  • Do you understand your learning disability yourself before you try to explain it to others?
  • Can you comfortably and clearly explain your learning disability to others, particularly your professors - in simple terms, not in medical language? 
  • Are you aware of and understand your learning strengths and weaknesses?
Suggestions:
  • Visit the disability services office and make use of the help it provides. 
  • Make an appointment to see your professor in his/her office - identify yourself and which class you attend.
  • Be able to explain what assistance you will need from your professor.
  • Let your professors know that you are receiving help from the disability services office.
Disclosure:
  • You do not need to provide information about your learning disability to anyone other than the disability services office. The information you provide to them is confidential. The office cannot share it without your written consent.
Adapted from:
The Meighen Centre, Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick.
Your Education - Your Future, Canadian Mental Heath Association: www.cmha.ca/youreducation.