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Information for Parents & Guardians

As a parent/guardian you likely have questions and concerns about how your son's/daughter's needs will be accomodated and what role you can play in their success at Queen's. We hope the information on this website is useful to you in answering your questions, and we encourage you to contact us with any further questions. Below you will find responses to some of the most common questions we receive from parents.

Transition from the high school to university setting with a disability - what are the similarities and differences, and what can we expect?

Often when students come from high school into post-secondary education, there is a difference in what accommodations can and will be provided. This occurs for several reasons:

  1. The academic mission and context is different.
    The mandate in post-secondary is not the same as high school. The academic requirements begin to be based on expectations of higher education such as developing independent scholarship, analytical thinking skills, or professional standards from program accrediting bodies or professional practice requirements.
  2. The pertinent legislation is different.
    Inclusive education at the secondary level is governed by provincial education legislation aimed at providing integrated, public education. Access to post-secondary education for students with disabilities is governed by the Ontario Human Rights Code, and is based on eliminating discrimination based on disability - this is different from "identification" at the secondary level. Particularly with respect to learning disabilities, more specific documentation of the functional implications is required, to understand what bridges should be built to enable the student to have an equal opportunity to participate in learning and demonstrating knowledge. This does not include curriculum modification; rather, finding alternative means to the same end is the objective.
  3. The program requirements are different.
    Expectations are not "modified" in post-secondary, and the learning objectives are defined differently, in many cases. If accommodations are seen to be "modifying" the curriculum requirements, those particular accommodations may not be provided. Because accommodation is specific to the disability in a particular context, and post-secondary is a different context, we often see changes in what accommodations are provided.

What documentation of disability will be required?

Documentation of disability for accommodation planning purposes needs to address the functional implications resulting from the disability, and how it impacts on participation in education-related activities or residence life. The presence of a diagnosis is not a sufficient condition to require accommodation. There must be a direct relationship between the disability-related function and the course/program requirements that results in an impact on participation, and an inequity of opportunity. For example, students who have certain medical conditions which are well-controlled by medication may not require any accommodation. A student with a math-based learning disability may not require accommodation in literature or studio art courses.

For more information on documentation requirements for specific conditions, please refer to the Documentation section of our website.

Consent to speak with parents.

Many parents want to speak with their student's disability advisor directly, to understand accommodations, to unravel problems or misunderstandings, or to know if their student has attended appointments as needed, or just to obtain information about how to navigate the university environment. Generic procedural questions can be addressed by any member of the Disability Services Office staff. Questions or conversations specific to an individual student require the studentís consent, in writing, on file in the office.

Consent to release information to anyone outside the university requires a specific form to be completed by the student every year, even if the student is under 18 years of age. This reflects our commitment to protecting confidentiality of student information, and to promoting the autonomy of our students in learning to deal independently with their accommodation needs.

If you have a question or concern, please feel free to contact us. We will do our best to answer your questions to the extent that we can, and we will contact your student to discuss their consent when needed, if no consent is on file already.

Parent Resources

There a number of sources of important information for both students with disabilities and their parents. We encourage you to read the information found at the following websites, and contact us if you have further questions.