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Accessibility at FIFSW: What You Need to Know

At FIFSW, we believe in inclusive student success and are ready to support your accessibility needs.

This webpage has been organized to help streamline key processes, information, and resources for both new and returning FIFSW students seeking assistance in navigating disability-related barriers to academic success. For more information, the Accessibility Services’ Graduate and Professional Program Student Handbook is also a valuable resource.

The University of Toronto’s central Accessibility Services team is the first point of contact for students seeking disability-related accommodations. An accommodation refers to any service, equipment, or special arrangement put in place to support students with a documented disability that affects their success in an academic or practicum setting. FIFSW staff and faculty will work closely with you and Accessibility Services to ensure that you have access to learning and are supported through services and resources. The steps to receiving support for your accessibility needs is outlined below.

Steps to receiving support for your accessibility needs

FIFSW students who require academic accommodations to overcome disability-related barriers should take the following steps.

  1. Register with Accessibility Services
  2. Meet with you Accessibility Advisor to prepare Letters of Accommodation
  3. Share your Letter of Accommodation with your course instructors
  4. Share your Letter of Accommodation for the OSCE with FIFSW’s Simulation Program Coordinator (Year 1 students only)
  5. Share your Letter of Accommodation for Practicum with FIFSW’s Practicum Office
  6. Consider additional support from a U of T Learning Strategist
  7. Explore other resources and opportunities

Detailed information on each step is provided below. (Click on any of the steps above to jump to more information.)

Step 1: Register with Accessibility Services

All students who would like to receive support navigating barriers to an on-going or temporary disability are required to register with Accessibility Services.

What you need to register

To register with Accessibility Services, you will need:

  • Your UTORid or JOINid student identification which you should receive upon official acceptance of your admission offer.
  • Disability Documentation. Disability Documentation is the most important official document you will need to access support through Accessibility Services. If you do not have a family physician or a care provider and you require disability documentation for academic accommodations, U of T Health & Wellness can help. Disability documentation helps establish the exact type of barriers and challenges to learning and assessment that a student might encounter, which helps Accessibility Services specifically tailor accommodations to those challenges. Providing documentation that is as detailed as possible supports this process. For this reason, students are encouraged, where possible, to engage with the attending physician who has known them the longest or best.

Note that your personal and medical information is held confidentially by Accessibility Services and only shared on a need-to-know basis through a letter of accommodation.

New students

New students are strongly encouraged to register with Accessibility Services for academic accommodations as soon as they receive their offer of admission to the University of Toronto. Because the process will take time to complete, registering well in advance will ensure your accommodations are in place for the start of the session; however please note that students are welcome to register anytime throughout the year.

Visit the Accessibility Services site for instructions on how to register or to ask questions. Upon successful registration you will be assigned an Accessibility Advisor who will help you navigate next steps.

Returning students

Student accommodations end each academic year at the end of winter session (April 30). If you are a returning student for the summer, fall, or winter session and you need to change your accommodations, you will need to reconnect with Accessibility Services.

If you are a returning student, and do not require changes to your accommodations, simply renew your accommodations online or by emailing your Accessibility Advisor directly.

Accessibility supports for Indigenous Students

Accessibility Services for Indigenous Students is an additional pathway available to Indigenous Undergraduate and Graduate students that aims to provide support by applying culturally responsive and reflective approaches. Accessibility Service’s Indigenous Liaison can be contacted to guide your registration process.

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To guarantee that you will have accommodations in place before the start of the fall session, register by July 12, 2024 . (Please note that registrations will continue to be accepted after July 12.)

Step 2: Meet with your Accessibility Advisor to prepare Letters of Accommodation

After registering with Accessibility Services, you will be assigned an Accessibility Advisor, who will work with you to prepare the necessary Letters of Accommodation. A Letter of Accommodation is an official document provided by Accessibility Services, through your Accessibility Advisor, that outlines accommodations approved for the classroom. Once it is prepared, students are expected to provide their course instructors with the Later of Accommodation.

FIFSW students will need three separate Letters of Accommodation to address:

  1. day-to-day in-class learning and assignments
  2. accommodation for the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), which is a required assessment for MSW Year 1 students
  3. practicum, a requirement of MSW Year 1 and Year 2 students.

You are strongly encouraged to discuss these accommodations in your first meeting or schedule a follow up meeting with your Accessibility Advisor to ensure time for processing to address your needs.

Please be sure to carefully read the sections about accommodations for the OSCE and Practicum below.

Step 3: Share your Letter of Accommodation with your course instructors

After registering with Accessibility Services and receiving a Letter of Accommodation from an Accessibility Advisor, students should connect with their course instructors at the start of the session to provide them with their letter and discuss how their needs can be addressed in the classroom. This discussion may include disability-related extensions on assignment outlined in course syllabus. Meeting with your instructors at the beginning of the year will set you up for long term success. In cases where you may require support beyond the instructor, students should reach out to the MSW Program Director or PhD Program Director.

Step 4: Share your Letter of Accommodation for the OSCE with FIFSW’s Simulation Program Coordinator

MSW students in year one of the MSW program participate in a simulation assessment known as the OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) in the course SWK4105H Social Work Practice Laboratory. The OSCE involves students participating in a 15-minute interview a simulated participant playing the role of a client. A course instructor or PhD student rates the student’s performance and students receive a pass or a fail on the OSCE.

Academic Accommodations for the OSCE could include:

  • Additional reading and/or writing time
  • Noise cancelling headphones
  • Technology requirements
  • Break between activities or after specific amount of time

It is important that at the start of the course, both the Simulation Coordinator and your course instructor review the Letter of Accommodation for the OSCE prepared by your Accessibility Advisor.

Step 5:  Share your Letter of Accommodation for Practicum with the Practicum Office

Social Work practicums can vary in nature, including physical demands and location. Depending on your needs, accommodations may be required as a part of the selection process for practicum placement as well as for learning success.

To formally access accommodations for practicums, students must first be registered with Accessibility Services and obtain a Letter of Accommodation for Practicum from their Accessibility Advisor. Once your accommodations are confirmed, Accessibility Services will send a copy of your Letter of Accommodation for Practicum to the Practicum Office. The Practicum Office will acknowledge receipt of the Letter and provide you with information on next steps.

Deadlines for your Letter of Accommodation for Practicum

  • Year 1 MSW Students: September 30, 2024
  • Year 2/Advanced Standing MSW Students: March 29, 2024

For more information, a comprehensive guide on accessibility  can be found in the Practicum Manual. An FAQ for students who require accommodations at practicum is also available on our website in the manual section.

Need more information about practicums and how you might be impacted?

While waiting to meet with your Accessibility Advisor, you can also meet with a Practicum Coordinator from the Practicum Office to discuss potential practicum accommodation needs. In some cases, the Practicum Office can make plans while a formal Letter of Accommodation for Practicum is in progress.

Step 6: Consider additional support from a U of T Learning Strategist

There are many resources available to help support the development of your personal and academic strategies and approaches in addition to academic accommodations.

Accessibility Services has learning strategists that work specifically with students registered with their office. Any registered student can meet with a learning strategist for individualized support.

A learning strategist works with students one-to-one or in a small group to help:

  • Identify the impact of your disability on your learning
  • Discover how to use your learning strengths for university-level work
  • Learn to manage time and address procrastination issues
  • Develop new strategies for reading, writing, and active studying to help achieve academic goals

Step 7: Explore other resources and opportunities

Accessibility Services, with Health and Wellness and other U of T partners, is constantly evolving aiming to actively meet students where they are while being responsive to trends and needs within diverse accessibility spaces and communities. Keep yourself up to date and informed with the latest from Accessibility Services by considering any of the following opportunities.

Get Started Sessions 

Hosted by Accessibility Services, Get Started Sessions are 2-hour workshops offered during the summer. They are designed to introduce Accessibility Services for new and/or returning Undergraduate and Graduate students. Learn more about Get Started Sessions and how to register.  

Orientation Events 

For a more in-depth and detailed overview of Accessibility Services, a full one-day orientation session specific to graduate students is available in the summer. This one-day event will include a campus tour, social networking opportunities, and introductions to other services and resources available. Breakfast and lunch are included in this event. Interested in registering? Visit Orientation Events at Accessibility Services.

Student Life- Health and Wellness 

Health and Wellness is an important partner of Accessibility Services and supports many student accessibility needs outside of direct learning activities. Health and Wellness not only promote and provide resources for mental health, but also provide networking opportunities responsive to intersecting identities, as well as supports for students including (but not limited to): disability documentation support, immunizations, sexual & reproductive health care, nutrition counselling & education, skills-building workshops, and group therapy.

Wellness Counselling for BIPOC Students

If you self-identify as Black, Indigenous and/or a Person of Colour (BIPOC), you can make a same-day counselling appointment with a wellness counsellor who self-identifies as BIPOC and has expertise in supporting students from these communities. These services are tailored to BIPOC students and offer a safe and collaborative space that supports healing from racial stress, trauma, and experiences of discrimination.

Requesting Consideration for Illness or Injury- Non-Disability Related 

For non-disability-related considerations, the University of Toronto’s Verification of Student Illness or Injury Form must be completed by all students requesting special academic consideration for a missed academic obligation based on illness or injury.  For more information, please refer to your course syllabus for details.