For your Tool-kit: Letter to my University Residence Coordinator
I’m on a variety of mailing lists dedicated to people with disabilities across Canada, and students are looking for university information. This can vary from what services are offered through Student Accessibility Services, how accessible a campus is, and what residence options they have available.
I only learned two days ago, by chance, that my university offers on-campus accommodations for (some) students with mobility-related disabilities. This information is not available on their website.
So, I drafted an email about it, and I thought it may be useful for others to adapt to their needs.
Dear [Residence Coordinator]
I was very surprised to hear that there are options for students with physical disabilities to live on campus at [Uni]. It was indicated to me that many of the residences at [Uni] have a room set aside on every floor that is larger than most, to accommodate mobility aids, and a private washroom with grip bars. I was very happy to learn of this, although it is not something I would now be able to take advantage of.
I’m writing because I think that this information, along with other information that would be relevant to students with disabilities coming to [Uni], should be available on the Residence website. A search through the Residence site does not bring up any references to students with disabilities or disability-related accommodations.
As well, [Person I spoke to] was unable to tell me about other accommodations that might be necessary for students with disabilities. For example, what policies are in place for students who work with service animals? Is there a way to adapt “general” rooms so that students who are Deaf can get visual alerts for alarms rather than relying on someone else to fetch them in case of an emergency? I understand from the website that [Uni] can accommodate vegan & vegetarian meal plans. I suspect that [Uni] can also accommodate food allergies or intolerances, but I feel this should be highlighted as part of the meal plan in a similar way to vegan* options.
As a student who is affected by disability, I am required to do a lot of advocating for myself and other people with disabilities. Frankly, one gets tired of having to navigate through levels of website to find out information, and I know I’m not the only student who has chosen to assume that, if information for students with disabilities isn’t available easily, then there probably isn’t any. I think making a section of the Residence website discussing explicitly what residences can accommodate students with disabilities, what is required to take advantage of these residences, what services [Uni] is able to provide to assist students with disabilities who wish to live in Residence, and a specific contact for students with disabilities to discuss any additional accommodations required would be very helpful. As well, contacting the Student Accessibility Services department and having them put a link to this information on their website would make it even easier for students with disabilities to know that [Uni] residence halls are happy to accept them.
Feel free to use & adapt this letter for your needs.