Whether it is straight after high school or later in life, heading off to college can be an exciting yet nerve-racking process. There are so many questions:
- Where should you go to college?
- Can you afford to go to college?
- What degree should you obtain?
Although these are all necessary questions a person must consider, some prospective students need answers to questions beyond these topics. For people with learning, mental, or physical disabilities, the decision to pursue a post-secondary education is a complicated one.
As someone with a physical disability, I had questions of my own. I was a single mom, I was 25 years old, and I am blind. Most people would ask the typical college questions first but not me. I needed to find out if it was even possible for me to attain a degree with vision loss. I lost my vision when I was 22 years old, so I had never experienced school with a disability.
All these questions and concerns can be answered by the Accessibility Supports and Disability Services (ASDS) department at the Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC). Despite my fears, I decided to contact them. After my first appointment, I felt at ease. I was informed of all the accommodations and services they could offer me:
- An educational assistant (EA) to assist me to and from my classes, take notes, and guide me anywhere that I need to go on campus.
- A tutor who helps me with studying, formatting my written assignments, and tackling my extremely challenging math courses.
- Converting all my textbooks, class handouts, and assignments into an accessible digital format.
- Provide me with any accessible technology, like a talking calculator or hand-drawn 3D graphs, and note taking software for my EA.
- For every exam, they provide me with a qualified reader and scribe as well as a distraction-free room.
The ASDS department is full of an incredible caring, understanding, and encouraging group of individuals. With every challenge I have faced over the past three and a half years, the ASDS staff have been there to help. Thanks to their ongoing support, I am in my fourth year at the college and second year in my program with a 3.88 GPA. If you or someone you know are considering making the jump to post-secondary, and have a learning, mental, or physical disability, I strongly encourage you to book an informational meeting with the ASDS department and bring a list of questions and concerns.
To find more information on Accessibility Supports and Disability Services, visit the Grande Prairie Regional College website: https://www.gprc.ab.ca/services/accessibility/ or phone: 780-539-2017.
Submitted by GPRC Student Ambassador, Lyndsie Mcleod.