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My journey into Accessibility Services

This article was originally written by Alyson on the Life@UofT blog.

I’m a blogger for Accessibility Services, except I’m not yet registered with them. Why not? Because I’m still on my journey into getting the services I need, despite being in my third year.  In order to register, I need to gather required documentation, complete a Student Intake Form, submit an Intake Package, and lastly, attend an intake appointment with an Advisor to discuss my needs. I have only partially finished this list, for various reasons. I thought it may help some of you to hear about my journey and what I’ve learned along the way, in case you’re in a similar situation!

First Year

I didn’t realize that there was such thing as Accessibility Services when I first started at U of T. In the first two months of school, I fell ill with pneumonia and was suggested by a doctor on campus to register with Accessibility Services for support around deadlines. I received my diagnosis after I was feeling better, so I no longer felt the need to get my paperwork done. However, I knew that if need be, there would be an office on campus for various needs.

Second Year

Toward the end of first year I was getting severe headaches and anxiety-related symptoms (e.g. panic attacks) that affected my day to day life. During that summer, I gained the courage to see my family doctor and got a proper diagnosis and medication for both migraines and anxiety.

As both conditions were directly affecting my academic life, such as drowsiness-inducing migraine medication taken when writing a midterm or a decrease in memory retention, I was determined to get my accessibility forms in. I was feeling better from having gotten help but needed that extra boost to get my academic needs going.

Unfortunately, I missed deadline after deadline and struggled to find time for appointments with my family doctor, who was working part-time. Having an intense class schedule and part-time work meant I wasn’t home when most clinics or my doctor were open. Yet, I finished second year knowing my grades didn’t define me and that I had tried my absolute best anyway. I had started prioritizing my health.

Third Year

This past summer, I was one signature away from my forms finally being signed, but then my family doctor retired. I lost access to any medical care that had my full history.

But I didn’t give up. This past week I finally went to Health and Wellness, a place I never really visited apart from first year. In order to get any of my forms signed, I knew I would have to miss classes to attend appointments. I realized that my own health and my own ability to access supports are superior and would benefit me most. I have missed deadlines for over two years but I am finally going for it!

Everyone’s journey through their degree is different and it’s never too late to get any assistance you need. The university has services for you, and ways to go about getting them. If you are unsure of what documentation you need, or if you think you are missing information, Accessibility Services has an Intake Coordinate who can help you out at any time during your process!

Republished: 23 February 2020