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Disability Funding and Support at MaKami College

Nicole, a young caucasian girl iwiht dark brown hair tied up in a bun and a long brown sweater, standas with her arms clasped in front of her in front of grey lockers at MaKami College's southwest campus in Calgary, Alberta

When Nicole started her first day as a massage therapy student, her ears perked up at the words “disability funding.”

“I was in orientation and they mentioned that they help students with disability funding and services,” says Nicole, who was diagnosed with dyslexia as a young adult. “So right after orientation I went and spoke with someone from MaKami’s Strategic Academic Learning Team (SALT) and they helped me get academic and financial assistance which has really changed my experience at the school.”

For Nicole, that meant funding for extra equipment to help her study like flashcards and printed materials, as well as academic assistance through sessions with a Learning Strategist and one-on-one tutoring.

Nicole is one of hundreds adult learners at MaKami who struggle with learning disabilities, says Melissa, MaKami’s Student Advisory Services (SAS) Administrator & Disability Support. “We have students with a wide range of learning disabilities, from physical disabilities such as hearing or vision impairments, to cognitive impairments as well as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), depression, anxiety and dyslexia.”

Melissa is MaKami’s Student Advisory Services (SAS) Administrator & Disability Support at MaKami College.

Like Nicole, students with disabilities can be eligible for funding to help with day-to-day living expenses as well as funding for services and equipment that can help them succeed in their academic studies. This can include computers, software, apps, learning assistants, tutoring and more depending on their needs.

While some students may be aware of their disability and already have a formal assessment letter, others may not even be aware of their learning challenge. “There have definitely been instances where a student or one of the faculty may suspect they have a learning disability while they’re attending school. Not everyone with a learning disability necessarily knows they have it, even as an adult.”

But whether they are already aware of their disability or not, MaKami can help guide them through the disability assistance process.

“If they have a disability and they are diagnosed they can bring their assessment papers or a doctor’s note to Student Advisory Services (SAS) or SALT we can use that to proceed in funding,” says Olakunle, SALT Manager. “If they suspect they may have a learning disability but they are not yet diagnosed, we can help walk them through that process. Usually that includes having them get a formal assessment or a doctor’s note.”

Once SAS or SALT are aware of the student’s disability, the student will have an introductory meeting with one of the school’s Learning Strategists, who will review their files and academic records and meet with them to discuss their specific challenges. They will work together to create a learning plan, which often includes study tips, tools and follow up sessions with tutors.

“Regardless of how they come to SALT, the goal is to find out why they are struggling,” says Andre, one of MaKami’s Learning Strategists. “It can be any number of things, maybe they aren’t able to keep up with the class, maybe it’s their mindset, maybe it’s personal issues they’re having. We identify the main issue(s) and create a catch-up plan with goals.”

Andre is one of four Learning Strategists who work one-on-one with students to help provide them with the tools and strategies to succeed in their studies.

Learning Strategists at MaKami are unique in that they work closely with the student, tutors and faculty to help provide tools and strategies to help the student succeed. “In many other schools, learning strategists are completely separated from faculty, so it leaves it up to the student alone to connect the dots and try and piece together their struggles with their solutions,” says Andre. “At MaKami, we will work with their instructors and tutors to monitor the progress of the plans and change them as needed.”

If you are seeking disability funding or suspect you may have an undiagnosed learning disability that may be affecting your studies, visit SAS or the SSC on campus, go the Forms section of you MaKami Toolkit, select SALT Support Services and fill out the SALT Support Services Form.