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By Seema Persaud

University launches new policy to help disabled students and those with learning disabilities.

Students with disabilities now have a policy to help them out.

The university’s academic council passed the new policy on academic accommodations last week, approving an eight-page code of conduct for students, faculty and administrators to accommodate the needs of students with disabilities through learning support systems.

Saburah Murdoch, student advocacy coordinator for RyeAccess, feels a lot of people don’t understand that students with disabilities need support here at Ryerson.

By having this policy, she said, people will learn more about what changes need to be made, and that people will adhere to them.

“(It) allows for people to have more freedom to succeed rather than struggling,” she said.

Diane Schulman, director of the office of the provost, said accommodations were already in place. Last week’s meeting put any practices on paper, making it official policy.

“There should have been a policy before, outlining (the accommodations for students with disabilities),” she said.

The Access Centre hopes the policy helps students with disabilities use different ways of demonstrating their knowledge, said coordinator Tanya Lewis.

With the use of adaptive technology, the centre will help, among others, those who are blind or visually impaired using computers that convert text to either speech or braille.

Not only does this policy help those who are visually impaired, those with learning disabilities will benefit.

“If you give a regular student more time to do a test, it has been proven that their scores will not go up where as if you give a student with a learning disability more time, their performance goes way up,” Lewis explained.

“A lot of their work is about reading and figuring out what the question is asking — they need additional time for processing pieces, then they can answer the question like everyone else,” she said.

Helping the visually impaired and those who have learning disabilities are only two examples of who this policy will help.

The guidelines put into effect as of last week and over the next year, the Access Centre will educate faculty about the policy so that they’re clear as to what they’re responsible for.

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