DC to get new disability exam centre

Disabled students at the University of Calgary will have an easier time with exam accommodations with the promise of a new dedicated exam centre.

Special advisor to the president on student life Sheila O’Brien said the new centre will be constructed in the Dining Centre in a space currently used by Chartwells.

“We’re pretty stretched for space,” said O’Brien, noting the space was identified in consultations with Residence Services and donated by Chartwells for the project.

Exam accommodations are granted to students in cases of disability, illness and for religious reasons. O’Brien said the exam centre will function in conjunction with a few dedicated classrooms and the Nat Christie Centre in order to accommodate exams. The new centre will be able to accommodate 20 students at a time and will allow disabled students to write exams at the same time of day as other students.

“This space will be for students that need a distraction free environment, extra time and things like that,” she said.

The project has partly grown out of a push from a group of disabled students who garnered over 300 signatures on a petition to support an exam centre.

“When they defer an exam right now, we’re supposed to ask the faculty to accommodate us,” said first-year humanities student Miles Motture. “They don’t always have the space or the time in the Disability Resource Centre.”

Motture helped spearhead the petition and said his disability requires him to take approximately 1.5 times longer to write tests than most of his classmates. Motture is legally blind and requires the assistance of a magnifier to read.

“The onus is on the student and there’s no sort of mechanism in any department to deal with this,” he said, noting students have had to take exams in the evening and in freezing portable trailers in the past. “We’re trying to get the U of C to prioritize an exam centre where we can take them at a decent time, under decent conditions on a level playing field with other students.”

Assistant vice-president student services Jim Dunsdon said the project will address a long-standing issue at the U of C. He noted the plan is to renovate the DC red room and equip it with anything the DRC deems necessary.

“The DRC have given us a list of requirements,” he said. “Whatever they need for that space they’re going to get it.”

O’Brien said the space will be available April 1, in time for winter final exams.

Motture was pleased with the announcement, but had hoped for more.

“I am concerned it’s not going to be enough space,” said Motture. “But I’m glad they’re doing something.”

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