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Graduate Studies

Dean’s Task Force on Graduate Students with Disabilities— Meeting Minutes November 29, 2012

Barbara Crow, Chair, Dean’s Task Force on Graduate Students with Disabilities,
Sofia Kirschner, Student Affairs Officer, FGS,
Geoffry Reaume, GPD, Critical Disabilities Studies,
Markus Reisenleitner, GPD, Humanities,
Kaley Roosen, Student Representative,
Tanya McFadyen, VP Gender, GSA
Barb Wells, EA, Faculty of Graduate Stuies

Jenna Reid, Student Representative,
John McDermott, GPD, Biology,

Opening Remarks/Updates [Barbara Crow]

  • The Jan. 24th meeting will move to Jan. 31st so that (Vice-Provost, Students) Janet Morrison is able to attend to join our meeting.
  • Barbara Crow is looking forward to working with Janet to find ways to move things forward.
  • Item to note: Institute for Research on Learning Technologies upcoming speaker series. All members of the York Community are invited to attend.
    What EVERY faculty member needs to know about the accessibility standard for information and communications technology talk by Benjamin Sommers, Accessibility Directorate of Ontario.
    When: Monday December 10, 2012
    Time: 10::30 am to 12:00 pm
    Where: TEL 1004

Inventory o the disability related services available campus wide [All]

Recommendations/Items to examine

  • There is still a lot of information gathering happening, with Sofia making contact with Access York members.
  • The suggestion was made that we be sure to include in our inventory, information about housing and the library.
  • It’s critical to note what support is available for Grad Students, not just undergrads, as it’s important that we note items like Grad Students who engae in independent research.
  • We need to know what the protocols are for Grad Students with disabilities. Professors receive an Accommodation form letter, and it’s often not outlined what is required to accommodate that particular student.
  • These letters are meant to be individualized; goal is to have a discussion between the professor, student and disability counselor to put the accommodations in place for that student.
  • Discussion about having/creating more than one booklet; one for faculty and staff and another version for students.
  • Concern raised, do we really need another booklet that won’t be read.
  • Question around for whom this handbook is destined for? we need education to support both faculty and the students with disabilities too.
  • Faculty need clear direction on how to accommodate students with disabilities.
  • We need to know what is out there for students with disabilities, then how to take this information and institutionalize it.
  • Also want to look at FGS regulations and make changes to accommodate Grad Students with Disabilities.
  • Want to see disability issues integrated in the mainstream handbooks, and not a separate booklet.
  • On the undergrade side in Admissions there are dedicated people who look at files of the students who self-identify with a disability, these folks examine the file if a student is falling short on the basic Admissions process, there is nothing like this in Grad Studies. Maybe we can examine what accommodation could look like for Grad Students.
  • An area of concern is the difference between full- and part-time students with disabilities. Full-time students have access to funding, part-time students have no access to either funding or resources.
  • Another concern is that Tri-Council/OGS does not provide any funding outside the regular length of a program, even if a student with disabilities takes longer to complete.
  • Suggestion to a process and information available to those students who will take longer to complete a program.
  • Question about how a student’s status as either part-time or full-time affects them in regards to the Health Plan.

Action Items:

  • Want to take a look at both the Senate Policy and the FGS guidelines and have a policy in language that is supportive.
  • An area that we can look at is the Research Cost Fund and add a line about students with disabilities and their research needs.
  • Another area to examine is to be able to provide funds for students with disabilities who are refused OSAP, an area where Janet Morrison might be involved.
  • Concern about students who have to withdraw in year seven (7) of PhD due to mental health issues, what can be done to re-instate?
  • There is a Tool Kit for Accessibility, on how to make class rooms more accessible for students with disabilities, it contains six or seven modules, is available online on he Council of Ontario Universities at: There is also a pdf document available here.
  • Want to examine funding and what funding is available for students with disabilities, and to collect this information into one place.
  • Want to be able to accommodate grad students outside the classroom i.e. those with internships and practicums.
  • Kaley and Sofia will see what Access York is doing.

Additional Task Force members

  • Marc Wilchesky, Executive Director, Counselling and Disability Services;
  • Sheila Wilmot, Equity Officer, CUPE 3903;
  • Adrie Naylor, GSA Student Services Coordinator.

Next meetings:

  • Jan. 31st, 2013 10:00 am to 12:00 noon Room 232 YL
    Janet Morrison, Vice-Provost, Students, is able to join our meeting.