Burden of Proof

 

Masters Paper –  Burden of Proof: Inaccessible Support for Invisible Disabilities

When I went back to school for my Masters I had to get new documentation to prove I had a learning disability.  My ‘Learning Disability’ (or my neurodiversity) is permanent. This means that no matter how much support I access I will never develop ways to learn and prepare information in the same way that the education is setup to teach and take information in.  Thus, I will always need accomidationis since the education system makes it more difficult for me to succeed.

A flow chart that shows how the Federal Government influences universities in the access of accommodations
A flow chart that shows how the Federal Government influences the provincial government, which influences universities in the access of accommodations

Upon my return I was struck by how much time I had to spend to access accommodations I needed. That is where this project came in.

I created a series of visuals to show the time and financial expenses involved in this process.  I also have a visual that shows the systematic structures that create the burden of proof of the need of accommodations.

Time Calendar from May to October 2012 that I spend in order to access accommodations.
Time Calendar from May to October 2012 that I spend in order to access accommodations. The least amount of time spent was 0 to 30 minutes and the most was 14 hours

Two things really still stay with me about this project.  The first is that I started the process of burden of proof four months before I re-entered school. The second if the amount of time that I personally have to put into access the accommodation I need.  It is true that this was at the beginning of my entry into graduate school. In theory I spend less time now accessing the accommodations I need.

But that is in theory. In practice, there is an idea that since I am a graduate student I should not need as many accommodations. When I do have to make requests this results in a barrier of me having to justify why I need access to an accommodation that is clearly outlined on my  official assessment. To know for sure the amount of time and finances I devote to gaining accommodation now I would have to re-do this project.

Two financial Expense flow charts to show the limited financial gain for accessing accomidations
Two flow charts that show the financial expenses. One shows the cost of accessing a Learning Disability Assessment. The other shows the financial support accessed through accommodations.

No matter what the time needed to access any degree of accommodations within the education system is difficult. This project is just a first step in showing just how much time, effort, and expense is connected to the accommodation process.

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