Holland College’s Unfortunate Accessibility Policy

Oliver and I had the chance to learn about my nephew’s plans for community college this fall, where he’ll enter the Community Integration Through Co-Operative Education program at Georgian College in Orillia, Ontario. The program is described like this:

This program is designed for students with diverse learning challenges who require academic accommodations and modifications. Students enhance their academic and vocational knowledge and skills in both core and integrated courses and practice this learning on field placements. Learning Facilitators modify integrated courses to students’ specific strengths and abilities, and provide accommodations, tutor and support sessions to ensure the work is challenging and achievable. Students prepare for success in entry-level work, and build independence and self-advocacy skills for adult life.

He’s very excited about attending, and Oliver got excited about the possibility of a similar program here on Prince Edward Island.

Unfortunately, no such program exists and, indeed, Holland College does not offer modified programming at all.

Reading Holland College’s Students with Disabilities page, I can understand why this is the case:

Holland College is committed to providing a fair and consistent admission process for all students, including students with disabilities, in accordance with their distinct needs and in a manner consistent with academic principles.

The college will attempt to accommodate your disability. An accommodation is reasonable providing it would not pose undue hardship to the college community, giving due consideration to budgeting requirements, outside sources of funding and support, and health and safety requirements, and would not in any manner reduce the standards, academic or otherwise, of the college.

If you have any kind of disability and wish to seek accommodation from Holland College:

  • when you fill out your application, explain your training and academic needs
  • provide relevant documentation of your disability to the Student Academic Supports department

You may be required to undergo an assessment to assist in the processing of your application.

Rather than embracing accessibility, Holland College, in essence, says “it’s okay if you have a disability, just don’t expect us to substantially change the way we do things.”

As a public institution, the college needs to do better than this.


Lori's picture
Lori on June 14, 2018 - 22:48 Permalink

Contrasted with the services offered at UPEI's Webster Centre for Accesibility, Holland College is severely lacking. Their unwillingness to accommodate is a disappointment. Holland College can, and should, do better.
I have one daughter with an LD entering a competitive Masters program this fall (after receiving an honours degree with two additional majors) and another who is a social worker, who happens to have a hearing loss. Neither would be where they are had they not had access to various adaptations and accommodations along the way. There's a place for everyone if we, as a society, make room.

David Ross's picture
David Ross on June 27, 2018 - 15:37 Permalink

It's possible that you are judging them too harshly. I don't know what the official policy was at the time or whether things have changed since, but when my visually impaired wife was attending Holland College a few years ago a fair bit of thought, time, and effort was taken by the staff to accommodate her disability, from providing her with electronic copies of the textbooks to finding and maintaining a toileting area for her service dog to providing time and staff to help get her oriented in the building, and on and on. Based solely on her experience I'd suggest it's a mistake to view the lack of a specialized "storefront" for such services as meaning that the services aren't there.