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Letter to the editor: Disability resource centre

I’m writing to complain that I’ve seen a steady decline in the amount of quality and functionality of the disability “resource” centre over the 4 years I’ve attended UFV. It’s gotten to the point that I think a great many students with learning disabilities are unable to obtain the resources that they should be guaranteed to receive under human rights. I think the university has been putting this particular service at the lowest priority.

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I’m writing to complain that I’ve seen a steady decline in the amount of quality and functionality of the disability “resource” centre over the 4 years I’ve attended UFV. It’s gotten to the point that I think a great many students with learning disabilities are unable to obtain the resources that they should be guaranteed to receive under human rights. I think the university has been putting this particular service at the lowest priority.

The problem with this is, they open themselves up to being sued because students have a right to fair accommodation. I bring this up because the system of exam accommodation requests is archaic: two weeks’ notice for a (redundant form) midterm, and four weeks’ notice for a final exam. The problem is as a student with ADHD it’s difficult to maintain organization and planning this much in advance. The other complaint I’ve had is that this could be accomplished via email, between the professor, student, and DRC without using paper and adding another step to an arduous process.

The next issue I have is their laying off of the DRC secretary who managed bookings, and was someone who was knowledgeable. This then left little time and energy available among the advisers to help students, get the rights they deserve, and access to forms and funding. This is because the three advisers were told they had to take over the job of the secretary and their own jobs for no more hours or pay. Now today I found out my adviser (one of three) is on extended leave.

The DRC also has blocked access to just physically speaking with advisers via a locked corridor. This makes me feel very unwelcome and can’t be very helpful for blind students, or students with difficulty communicating in written format.

I find the DRC disappointing, and frankly becoming increasingly useless. The staff are overworked, the process of accommodation is outdated (resistant to being changed despite many better suggestions being made), the center itself is isolated and unapproachable, and in the end this is resulting in students not being able to access resources that are their right. I’ve personally witnessed their decline in service over the years, and it saddens me. This is why I’m writing to The Cascade, because I believe this is going on in silence, and no one is talking about it. Perhaps because those with disabilities are often under-represented, and few people know what it’s like, nor care to.

—Erin Harris, UFV student

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