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Graduate Studies

Dean’s Task Force on Graduate Students with Disabilities— Meeting Minutes December 10, 2013

Barbara Crow, Dean, Graduate Studies, Chair, Dean’s Task Force on Graduate Students with Disabilities
Karen Krasny, Associate Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies,
Heather Moore, Student Affairs Officer, Faculty of Graduate Studies,
Marc Wilchesky, Executive Director, Counselling & Disability Services,
Markus Reisenleitner, GPD, Humanities,
Sheila Wilmot, CUPE 3903 Equity Officer,
Adrie Naylor, GSA Student Services Coordinator,
Danielle Tucker, VC Student Access York,
Barb Wells, EA, Faculty of Graduate Stuies

Updates since last meeting

CSBO will be conducting a housing audit as part of their $70 million renovations.

  • No class room audit exists and there is a need for one.

AODA Implementation Committee

  • Marc is on the committee and thay meet every couple of months
  • Lianne DiPhillipe is the head of this committee

Who is required to meet the Web Accessibility standards for York?

  • Susan Webb’s group–and they are using a Vendor to provide web accessibility support
  • Grad Studies website will need to meet the standards
  • FES Associate Dean Ravi DeCosta has been working around site licensing to make accessibility related software more widely available on campus. FES has an Accessibility, Community and Equity Committee that meets on these issues.

Next Steps / moving forward

How do we communication our good intentions?

  • FGS–graduate studies news
  • Notify GPDs/GPAs and directors
  • FGS representatives on CUPE management

How do we do better?

  • Is the pre-existing committee sufficient?? Do we issue an open invitation to join the committee?
  • We need an OPS accessibility button, and landing page from our website
  • Grad Studies website needs specifically have messaging from task force, we need links to the Task Force, Access York, AODA , always there & always in the same place.
  • Want a header showing Task Force items done to date
  • Also to provide a space if interested for people who have something to contribute can link in with us and how to be involved
  • Extend invite to Grad Students to take part in Focus groups
  • Also want to provide a Feedback Mechanism in the handbook

Other Business

Cooper Commission report to University of Manitoba Senate
The link provided is for the February minutes of the University of Manitoba Senate meeting where the recommendations of the Cooper Commission were summarized (they're on pages 3-10). (Adobe .pdf file)
Discussion about what is a bonafide academic requirement

Guest Speaker *Roxanne Mykitiuk (Chair Equity Subcommittee of Senate) joined the meeting

  • Handout of current policy on academic accommodation for students with disability
    Mandate of this committee to redraft Senate policy on accommodate academic students with disabilities
  • Current policies are narrow
  • Last year–consulted with groups at York also looked at relevant law, AODA & human rights code in the context of higher education


  • No distinction between grads and undergrads
  • Current policy not AODA friendly
  • Enforcement mechanism is aimed at undergrad
  • Current policy fails to take into account the distinct needs of grad student experience

What are the issues?

  1. Undergrad course based whereas Grad courses involve primary research in labs and field work
    • Dissertation analysis/ writing is varying & fluctuates over time
  2. Other issues that need to be addressed
    • What are the essential requirements and knowledge skills of the grad program?
    • How to separate out knowledge skills and still meet the learning objectives
    • Issues of academic integrity

Question: What is Senate committee doing to address these issues? How do we identify the academic essentials?

We need to address what constitutes essential requirements.
The issues raised by the Cooper Commission from University of Manitoba provide clear understanding of the essential requirements.

Guidelines–what are the bonafide requirements of/for academic accreditation?

  • Document for essential skills to be developed
  • Develop academic requirement for non-accredited programs
  • Need some oversight internally and externally

Suggestion: Redraft Senate policy where FGS mandates fall under policy

Roxanne noted that this will be hard for Senate to push through a separate grad policy. The Re-designed procedure will be easier to create if itís an umbrella policy and one specific to grad students. Grad could have a separate section of same policy.

Guidelines for grad students

  • We want a relationship between outcomes and expectations
  • We need language around this to help articulate our needs
  • Language around the learning outcomes and the essential skills and objective
  • Grad policy-broken down by different course accommodations and field work
  • Concern that outcomes are not same thing as essential skills

Roxanne wants to know How to put these ideas into a policy?

  • Need autonomy, need oversight by some governance body
  • Need to go back to senate in terms of oversight
  • Who is tasked with oversight and development and implementations
  • Concerns about 2 issues 1) Support student & 2) Official Policy