Resources for Navigating University When You Have a Disability

By Anonycrip

When I started university, I believed that if I required help for things then I wasn’t a true university student, that I wasn’t a “good student.”  I remember my first Intro to Political Science midterm—I hadn’t registered for my exam accommodations by the deadline, so I was writing with pen in the classroom, when I needed to be using a computer with extra time.

I struggled my way through the exam, didn’t finish, and did not do well—an important, if not tyrannical, tough-love style lesson about obeying the deadlines of the Office for Students with Disabilities.

There are in fact so many more resources available through the school and province that I could have accessed had I known about them. As we start the new school year, a few of us anonycrips—everybody’s favourite crip vigilantes—want to be your proverbial crip* best friend, and tell you some of the resources that we know of so that you don’t have to jump through as many hoops just to experience more access to education. This non-exhaustive information is based on our experiences and research. We hope it can offer some direction in seeking out access.

Here are some things that we know of that can be covered by the province, for students with certain disabilities:

Tuition: If you are a student with certain disabilities and you are eligible for loans through the Québec loans and bursaries program, all the money you get in terms of loans are automatically turned into bursaries
Housing allowance
Accessible transportation if you live outside the reach of public transit

To access these things:

Apply for Loans and Bursaries on the Aide financière aux études website: and provide the required documentation of your disability (sorry it’s so medicalized)

The Financial Aid and Awards office at Concordia (or the equivalent at McGill) can help you apply.

Here are some things that we know of that can be covered by the province, that have to be accessed through the Access Centre for Students with Disabilities:

Equipment such as screen reading software, speech-to-text software, scanners, printers, and certain other kinds of technology Braille course materials Academic support such as tutoring, physical support in classrooms, note-takers (paid or volunteer – your choice), attendant (someone to assist you with personal care while at school) Translation into Québec sign language (langue des signes québecoise – LSQ) or American Sign Language (ASL) or signed French or English of the class contents

To access these things:

Contact the Access Centre for Students with Disabilities at Concordia or the McGill Office for Students with Disabilities and request an appointment

Ask what type of official documents you will need to register. Seek out the documents, attend first meeting. Follow up. Remind yourself before and after that it is not your fault the process is so hard, you deserve access to education!!!

If you feel like you might like an advocate to help you prepare or come to a meeting with you, please email us at: We will do our best to support you in preparing, or to accompany you and support you in a way that could help. We are happy to share document templates and tips based on our experiences and knowledge of the centre, accompany you to a meeting, or offer solidarity in the form of hanging and venting about the process.

If student / university events are not accessible to you because of any number of reasons such as the presence of alcohol, because there’s no child care available, or because there’s no ASL or LSQ, get in touch! Whenever possible we would like to work to remind organizers that access is in the mandate of the university and to increase accessibility at their events.

If you’re looking for gender-neutral / single-stall, wheelchair accessible bathrooms at Concordia:—hit the link under gender-neutral bathrooms.

We hope this information can be of use to you, and we support you in seeking out an education that’s as accessible as possible, including social events. Get in touch for any information or solidarity.

*“Crip” is a shortened version of the word “cripple,” a term which has historically been used in a derogatory way against disabled people, especially physically disabled people. Crip is a term that many disabled people have politically reclaimed (“reclaiming” a term in this sense means that a community or communities deliberately choose to refer to themselves using a word that has historically been used against them in a derogatory way; reclaiming words is a way of taking power back). Crip is considered to be a term that includes all disabled people; however, there are some physically disabled people who feel that the term should only be used by physically disabled folks.