A Lifeline For Disability Accommodation Planning: How Models of Disability and Human Rights Principles Inform Accommodation and Accessibility Planning
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Implementing the legal mandate to accommodate students with impairments in higher education, particularly in fieldwork settings, poses a significant challenge to retaining academic integrity (Pardo, 1999). Currently, there is no consistent way of determining which academic requirements are “bona fide” (OHRC, 2004), and might not be altered for students with disabilities, and those which can be accomplished using a different method. Situating accommodation and accessibility within the Environmental Factors domain of the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Function, Disability and Health (ICF) as a theoretical framework, a set of questions are presented to determine whether academic requirements in fieldwork can be accommodated or not, and why. Combining an occupational therapy perspective on the importance of task analysis (Ashworth, 1995) with the means of identifying discrimination laid out in the human rights case law provides the required tools for such an analysis. This dissertation examines the intersection of legislated mandates for accommodation and academic integrity, by applying human rights legislation to higher education. Using the three-step test of discrimination set out in Meiorin (1999) and an additional question based on Granovsky (2000) to analyze academic tasks and requirements of fieldwork, bona fide requirements can be determined. The resulting model for determining accommodation for students with impairments is applicable to accommodation of disability in primary and secondary education, as well as in the employment sector and accessibility planning, and contributes to standards of practice in academic accommodation planning, a need identified by Reed, Lund-Lucas, & O'Rourke (2003). Following the introduction, six distinct chapters explore 1) the background of accommodation in post-secondary education, 2) the weaving together of models of disability with legislated requirements and curricula, 3) the human rights paradigm itself, 4) accommodation policies, 5) an experimental focus group investigation of the proposed model, and 6) an explication of when accommodation might not be appropriate. The conclusion draws these various threads together into a lifeline for accommodation analysis and planning.