What To Do if You Need Academic Accomodations at Carleton

I was nervous about starting university four years ago. Not only about classes and meeting new people, but I was also worried that the accommodations I had in high school which helped me succeed would not be carried over. There is a legal duty to accommodate students with disabilities; that doesn’t mean it didn’t feel like a totally new world starting university and trying to access those accommodations. Sometimes professors can put up a fight or you can feel like you are not being accommodated properly; just remember to advocate for yourself and what you need in order to fully participate in this process.


It is important to realize that everyone is different and therefore their accommodations will be too. However, here are the four things that I have learned over my years at university about disability accommodation that I wish I had known my first year.


  1. 1. Check-in with the Paul Menton Centre  

    Registering with the Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities and getting a coordinator is the place to start organizing accommodations for the semester. Make an appointment by calling them at 613-520-6608 or stopping by the centre at 501 University Centre. Bring the proper documentation to the appointment and you will be able to get started with your coordinator going through your classes and required accommodations. Not all of your accommodations may transfer over from high school, but they willl be able to work with you to set up a plan for success.

    You can be set up with assistive technology if you require that and you can learn about other services the university has to offer. You can meet with your coordinator throughout the semester if anything comes up and they are able to help answer any other questions you may have. The PMC even has a handy new term checklist to follow.


  2. 2. Introduce yourself to your professor

    Coordinators will recommend that you introduce yourself to your profesors early in the semester to discuss your accommodations. This is especially important in classes where there are no official tests or exams. In these sorts of cases, you are expected to speak to your professors about coming to an agreement about academic accommodations. The earlier you introduce yourself to your prof in the semester, the more you can build a relationship with them so they are better able and more willing to help you when you need accommodations or an extension for a project later in the term.  

  3. 3. Look into all the extra services that are on campus to help  

    There are plenty of services on campus that a lot of students simply are not aware of. It is not only important to be accommodated in class if you need, but having connections with a network of supports on campus can also make a huge difference. Ask your coordinator at the PMC or your academic advisor if you need support in a particular area. Otherwise here is a quick list of some of the basic services Carleton has to offer:

    - Carleton Learning Support Workshops (Including writing services, and peer assisted study sessions.)- 

    - Learning support sessions

    - Health and counselling services.

    - Empower me counselling services.

    - Therapy dogs 


  4. 4. Reevaluate after a month  

    Reevaluate your class load and accommodation plan after a month. This is very important because chances are you are not necessarily going to nail it the first time around. Maybe after writing your first midterm in the exam centre, you realize that you are going to need a computer to write the exam, or maybe instead of 50 percent extra time you need 66 percent extra. These are all things that you can bring up to your coordinator at the PMC and make sure that your accommodations are right for each class. In fact, each class might have different accommodations because of its breakdown and content.

    It is also important to reevaluate your workload and see if you may need to drop a class. It is not about the pace of getting your degree, it’s about being able to succeed in all of your classes. 


Hopefully, some of these reminders will help you navigate accommodations at university. The process repeats itself when a new semester brings new classes and professors so by the end of your degree you will be a pro. Also, remember you do have a legal right to be accommodated, so don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself.