Academic Accommodations for Students with Mental Health Disabilities
The impact of mental health and other disability related concerns can affect many aspects of a student’s academic performance including attendance at class, studying, preparing and completing assignments, papers and labs, participating in group work, reading texts, and so forth. Students with disabilities are encouraged to consult with Student Accessibility Services (SAS) on their difficulties, to seek assistance and accommodations for managing school related obligations.
What is the overall purpose of academic accommodations?
The accommodation process at McMaster is designed to help students develop self-advocacy skills necessary to implement accommodations both at University and in their future careers. An accommodation does not provide an advantage nor does it guarantee a student any level of perceived or desired outcome. An accommodation is about leveling a playing field where the impact of and intersection between disability and the learning environment can be a barrier to participation.
What is the process to seek or activate an academic accommodation?
Students who experience difficulty and feel that their difficulty is rooted in disability can contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to explore need for and, if appropriate, implementation of accommodation. Students will work with an SAS Program Coordinator to determine what accommodations may be needed, what specific supports should be accessed and, if necessary what academic accommodations should be put in place.
What do students have to disclose regarding their mental health status and to whom?
SAS may request that students provide documentation pertaining to the nature of their disability and how it impacts their functioning in academics and, from time to time, may request consent to consult directly with the health professional providing information related to the nature of the student’s disability. At times there may be need to update documentation on a case by case basis.
At no time would a student be required to provide either medical documentation or disclosure of disability diagnosis to their Faculty or an instructor. It is best to meet with an SAS Coordinator to first explore the issues, then determine what additional documentation may be needed, if any.
Every course, program level/degree and Faculty can operate very differently, therefore students are strongly encouraged to keep in touch with SAS from the outset on how to best ensure accommodations are in place.