Langara announces online system for disability services

College offers new disability service, but new legislation could bring even more

Entrance of the A building, a place on campus that has been tough to visit for students living with disabilities. Ray Chopping Photo
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Reported by Ray Chopping

Langara College has announced an online system for students with disabilities to arrange appropriate support services at the school.

Director of accessibility services, Suzanne Munson, told The Voice that they recently launched a new case management system.

“Our students are now able to do certain things online like submit requests for semester accommodations, accommodation letters, and book exams,” Munson said.

The student management system, called Accommodate, is an American product, which is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Munson explained they chose an American system because the Accessible Canada Act is still in its infancy.

 “So that’s why we went with the US product because we knew it would be accessible,” she said.

The news comes after the provincial government announced a series of public consultations on accessibility.

Accessibility for all

Shane Simpson, minister of social development and poverty reduction, said at a Vancouver community consultation on Nov. 1, that the government wants to ensure future spaces are designed to be accessible to everyone and not just aim for ramps and accessible doorways.

“We need to work on changing the culture of how we view disability,” Simpson said. “That may be the most important thing of all.”

Call for more

According to visually impaired, psychology and philosophy student, Samaneh Nikmanesh, navigating the Building A can be hard when it’s so loud and crowded.

“This is supposed to be a college, not a market,” Nikmanesh said.

Building A is one of the original campus buildings not built under the same regulations as the college’s newer T Building.

 “The A building gets very full at certain times of the day,” said visually impaired, creative writing student Gabor Bene, who takes the majority of his classes there. “I tend to avoid it during those times.”

Navigating the older buildings is not the only challenges some Langara students face.

“Langara’s accessibility services are not current. They are not up to date on blindness,” Nikmanesh said.

‘A process’

Langara College does offer an in-house transcription service through the Centre for Accessible Post-secondary Education Resources BC, for visually impaired students, but issues can still arise when access to course material is delayed, according to Bene.

“It’s a process,” Bene said.

The provincial government is hosting a series of community meetings to learn what the residents of B.C. want from provincial level legislation in regards to accessibility.

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